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LINGUIST List 17.3330

Wed Nov 15 2006

Diss: Historical Ling/Syntax: Gianollo: 'Constituent Structure and ...'

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        1.    Chiara Gianollo, Constituent Structure and Parametric Resetting in the Latin DP: A diachronic study

Message 1: Constituent Structure and Parametric Resetting in the Latin DP: A diachronic study
Date: 14-Nov-2006
From: Chiara Gianollo <gianollounits.it>
Subject: Constituent Structure and Parametric Resetting in the Latin DP: A diachronic study

Institution: University of Pisa
Program: Ph.D in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Chiara Gianollo

Dissertation Title: Constituent Structure and Parametric Resetting in the Latin DP: A diachronic study

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Greek, Ancient (grc)
                            Latin (lat)
                            Old French (fro)
Language Family(ies): Indo-European

Dissertation Director:
Pino Longobardi

Dissertation Abstract:

This work is an attempt to give a formal account of the structure of the
Latin Determiner Phrase (DP) within a framework of parametric typology and
to detect, during the history of the language, some crucial stages which
prelude to future pan-Romance developments. In particular, this research is
concerned with facts related to word order within the nominal phrase, such as:

-Case position(s) within the DP and the mechanism of genitive Case checking.
-Types of adjectival modification and ordering restrictions among adjectives.

This kind of investigation has a twofold goal: on the one hand, it aims to
add further evidence against the traditional descriptions of Latin grammar
as characterized by a sort of unconstrained word order, by showing that the
constituent structure of the Latin noun phrase can be reasonably described
in the same terms than that of other ancient and modern languages. This is
made possible within the framework of a theory of principles and parameters
of the nominal phrase, which is the outcome of an extensive typological
survey over a wide sample of languages.

On the other hand, the aforementioned facts regarding the order of
genitives and adjectives prove to be particularly interesting in a
diachronic perspective: different stages of the language have been
analyzed, in order to detect some crucial parametric changes from Classical
to Late Latin, which foresee subsequent developments in the Romance
languages, and --most interestingly-- bear witness of a complex chain of
parametric resetting which is likely to have occurred also in other
Indo-European languages.

The investigation focuses on the distribution of genitive phrases and
adjectival modifiers across a number of texts: for Classical Latin,
Cicero's Ad Familiares letters and Petronius' Satyricon have been taken
into account; as for Late Latin, the Vulgata and the Peregrinatio Egeriae
have served as an empirical basis for the collection of data. Also some Old
French evidence has been considered, by analyzing La Vie de Saint Alexis.

The main shift between Classical Latin and Late Latin concerns the
distribution of genitives: while in Classical Latin genitive phrases occur,
evenly distributed throughout texts, both in pre- and post-nominal
position, in Late Latin genitives are consistently post-nominal. This fact
does not seem to correlate with any difference in Case morphology, as the
Case system is substantially preserved in the texts under exam. The
proposed account, however, argues for a deep change in the syntactic
mechanism of Case checking due to a reanalysis of the post-nominal
construction, which is signaled by subtle evidence regarding the
interpretation of adjectives. These different stages are described in terms
of parametric resetting, essentially in the spirit of the Principles &
Parameters Theory; this way, Late Latin is shown to display some
significant correspondences with Old French nominal syntax.

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