Prepositional genitives in Romance and the issue of parallel development

Chiara Gianollo

in Parameter Theory and Linguistic Change

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659203
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745188 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics

Prepositional genitives in Romance and the issue of parallel development

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The fact that the Romance languages appear to be, from the viewpoint of syntactic typology, much closer to one another than to their documented common Latin ancestor is often cited as a striking case of parallel development. This poses a serious challenge to non-directional theories of syntactic change. This chapter tackles this by focusing on the observed sequence of morpho-syntactic changes affecting the realization of arguments of nominal heads (genitives) from Latin to Old French. It argues that the source of the Romance prepositional construction can be traced back to various parametric features inherited from Late Latin, where the genitive was still realized inflectionally. Old French inflectional genitives are a continuation of Latin from a syntactic viewpoint: The chapter proposes that they represent the result of a reanalysis of the Late Latin construction, and that the coexisting, innovating prepositional realizations share the same structural source.

Keywords: Latin; Old French; genitive; determiner phrase; reanalysis; drift

Chapter.  8775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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