This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
This book considers the synchronic and diachronic syntax of finite clauses in Medieval French from a generative point of view. Two salient and closely related features of Old French, the verb-second constraint and the limited distribution of null subjects, are followed through the Middle French period where they evolve in largely independent ways. The author argues, after consideration of several areas of controversy, that V2 in (late) Old French is triggered by topicalization in root clauses. Such questions as the position of postverbal subjects from the grammar of French are also addressed. The work further compares the syntax of Medieval French to that of Modern French and the Germanic languages and provides extensive documentation from Old and Middle French texts.