Chapter

Configurationality and the rise of constituent structure

Adam Ledgeway

in From Latin to Romance

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199584376
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741463 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199584376.003.0003

Series: Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics

Configurationality and the rise of constituent structure

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Developments traditionally falling within the realm of the synthesis-analysis parameter, as well as many more far-reaching and significant syntactic changes, find a much more promising and comprehensive explanation in terms of the rise of configurationality and, in particular, the concomitant emergence of functional structure. In this respect, it has long been noted that there is little evidence in Indo-European, and also in Latin, for fixed constituent structure. In the development from Latin to Romance, it is conventional to recognize a shift from a so-called free word order to a more rigid word order in which semantically related words are increasingly grouped together into syntagms. In light of such considerations, some researchers have claimed that the most significant innovation characterizing the transition from Latin to Romance is to be sought in the move away from a non-configurational syntax, in which the relationships between individual linguistic items is signalled through the forms of the items themselves (case inflections, agreement), towards an increasingly configurational syntax, in which the relationships between related linguistic items is encoded by their fixed positions relative to each other.

Keywords: Latin; Romance; free word order; rigid word order; syntagms

Chapter.  20965 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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