Convergence in parametric phylogenies

Giuseppe Longobardi

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

Convergence in parametric phylogenies

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Longobardi and Guardiano (2009) argued that parametric grammar codes for history, showing that a comparison of the parameter values of modern varieties suffice to reconstruct successfully most European language families. For this method's (PCM) significance, it is important to show it correctly captures the vertical relationship between mother and daughter languages. Here, sister languages are expected to diverge progressively from the common protolanguage and each other. The grammars of modern Romance languages seem, however, more similar to each other than to Latin, instantiating a convergence effect. Convergence in parametric values of separate languages can result from three sources: chance, contact, or the structure of UG parameters. This chapter suggests that, within a theory of parameters and parametric phylogenies, Romance convergence can be explained through minimal appeal to areal contact, maximal reliance on the implicational structure of UG, and no need to invoke chance-based developments: hence, it poses no problem to the validity of PCM.

Keywords: parametric comparison; phylogenies; Romance; Latin; universal implications; homoplasy; contact

Chapter.  5630 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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