LINGUIST List 5.1484

Mon 19 Dec 1994

Disc: Comparative Syntax

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  1. "Valiquette, Philippe Luc", Comparative Syntax

Message 1: Comparative Syntax

Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 14:59:29 ESComparative Syntax
From: "Valiquette, Philippe Luc" <PHLCVALIVM1.ulaval.ca>
Subject: Comparative Syntax


On Mon, 12 Dec 94 21:04:31 EST (amrares.cs.wayne.edu) wrote:

)Subject: Comparative Syntax

)While I really like most of what Scott DeLancey had to say about
)syntactic reconstruction usually being based on clues buried in
)the morphology (or morphophonology), I don't think this is always
)the case. There is a rather famous example involving a rule of
)Ancient Greek and one variety of Old Iranian (the languages of
)the Gatha's, I seem to recall), whereby a neuter pl. subject
)triggers sg. agreement on a verb, a pattern which is often
)reconstructed for the proto-language because, as I understand it,
)of its apparent oddity. This reconstruction is not logically
)dependent, I don't believe, on the identity of the actual morphemes
)marking gender, number, and person in these languages.
)
)I would think that there are many such quirks of syntax which
)could be the basis of a reconstruction.

The phenomenon mentioned for Ancient Greek -- that can apply as well to
Latin -- doesn't appear to be a (<quirk of syntax)>. Rather than being
_apparently odd_ and motivated by a _rule_ of invariable agreement, it
should be regarded as a (<quirk of meaning)>. While neuter pl. subjects,
still showing in Ancient Greek and Latin evidence of an ancient collective
case, have *usually* triggered sg. agreement on a verb, numerous examples
show that this pseudo rule wasn't always observed, and that semantic
considerations, most of the time -- moreover, metrical reasons for poets
--, have governed the agreement (syllepsis).

Thus I do not believe (<quirks of syntax [at least this one in particular]
could be the basis of a reconstruction)>.

La plupart sont d'accord, n'est-ce pas ?(not literally: What about
French?)

Regards,
Philippe L. Valiquette
Universite Laval, Dep. Linguistique
(PHLCVALIVM1.ULAVAL.CA)
(PHILIPPE.VALIQUETTELLI.ULAVAL.CA)
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