Evolutionary Syntax

Paperback | July 4, 2015

byLjiljana Progovac

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In this book, Ljiljana Progovac proposes a gradualist, adaptationist approach to the evolution of syntax, subject to natural selection. She provides a specific framework for its study, combining the fields of evolutionary biology, theoretical syntax, typology, neuroscience, and genetics. Theauthor pursues an internal reconstruction of the stages of grammar based on the syntactic theory associated with Chomskyan Minimalism and arrives at specific, testable hypotheses, which are then corroborated by an abundance of theoretically analysed "living fossils" drawn from a variety oflanguages. Her approach demonstrates that these fossil structures do not just coexist alongside more modern structures, but are in fact built into the very foundation of more complex structures, leading to quirks and complexities that are suggestive of a gradualist evolutionary scenario. By reconstructing a particular path along which syntax evolved, Evolutionary Syntax sheds light on the crucial properties of language design itself, as well as on the major parameters of crosslinguistic variation. As a result, this reconstruction can be meaningfully correlated with both the hominintimeline and the ever-growing body of genetic evidence that is available.

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In this book, Ljiljana Progovac proposes a gradualist, adaptationist approach to the evolution of syntax, subject to natural selection. She provides a specific framework for its study, combining the fields of evolutionary biology, theoretical syntax, typology, neuroscience, and genetics. Theauthor pursues an internal reconstruction of ...

Ljiljana Progovac is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Linguistics Program at Wayne State University in Detroit. She received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, and her Ph.D. degree in linguistics from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Her research interests includ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.62 inPublished:July 4, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019873655X

ISBN - 13:9780198736554

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. The small (clause) beginnings3. The intransitive two-word stage: Absolutives, unaccusatives, and middles as precursors to transitivity4. Parataxis and coordination as precursors to hierarchy: Evolving recursive grammars5. Islandhood (subjacency) as an epiphenomenon of evolutionary tinkering6. Exocentric VN compounds: The best fossils7. The plausibility of natural selection for syntax8. ConclusionAppendix: Testing Grounds: Neuroimaging