The correspondence problem in syntactic reconstruction

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WALKDEN, George, 2013. The correspondence problem in syntactic reconstruction. In: Diachronica. 30(1), pp. 95-122. ISSN 0176-4225. eISSN 1569-9714. Available under: doi: 10.1075/dia.30.1.04wal

@article{Walkden2013corre-38892, title={The correspondence problem in syntactic reconstruction}, year={2013}, doi={10.1075/dia.30.1.04wal}, number={1}, volume={30}, issn={0176-4225}, journal={Diachronica}, pages={95--122}, author={Walkden, George} }

Walkden, George Walkden, George The correspondence problem in syntactic reconstruction 2013 While considerable swathes of the phonology and morphology of proto-languages have been reconstructed using the comparative method, syntax has lagged behind. Jeffers (1976) and Lightfoot (2002a), among others, have questioned whether syntax can be reconstructed at all, claiming that a fundamental problem exists in applying the techniques of phonological reconstruction to syntax. Others, such as Harris & Campbell (1995) and, following them, Barðdal & Eythórsson (2012), have claimed that the problem does not arise in their frameworks. This paper critically examines the isomorphism between phonological and syntactic reconstruction, made possible by an ‘item-based’ view of syntactic variation as assumed within Minimalist theories of syntax as well as Construction Grammar and others. A case study dealing with the ‘middle voice’ suffix -sk in early North Germanic is presented in support of the approach. While the conclusion drawn is not as pessimistic as that of Lightfoot (2002a), it is argued that the ‘correspondence problem’ is real and that reconstruction of syntax is therefore necessarily more difficult, and speculative, than that of phonology.ResumeSi des pans entiers de la phonologie et de la morphologie des proto-langues ont pu etre reconstruits grace a la methode comparative, la syntaxe est restee, elle, peu touchee. Jeffers (1976) et Lightfoot (2002a), entre autres, ont emis des doutes sur la possibilite de reconstruire veritablement toute syntaxe, avancant un probleme fondamental dans l’application a la syntaxe des techniques de la reconstruction phonologique. D’autres, tels que Harris & Campbell (1995), et, par la suite, Barddal & Eythorsson (2012), ont fait valoir que ce probleme ne survenait pas dans leur systeme. Nous faisons ici un examen critique de l’isomorphisme entre les reconstructions phonologique et syntaxique, en nous appuyant sur la vision ‘par item’ de la variation syntaxique telle qu’elle est concue dans le cadre des theories de la syntaxe du programme minimaliste, des grammaires de construction et de bien d’autres encore. Afin d’etayer cette demarche, nous presentons une etude de cas portant sur le suffixe -sk en vieux scandinave. Si nous n’en tirons pas une conclusion aussi pessimiste que celle de Lightfoot (2002a), nous n’en pensons pas moins que ‘le probleme de la correspondance’ est bel et bien reel, et que, necessairement, la reconstruction de la syntaxe est plus difficile et plus conjecturale que celle de la phonologie. eng terms-of-use 2017-05-15T13:47:06Z 2017-05-15T13:47:06Z

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