This advanced course approaches syntactic change from a generative perspective. A popular idea in recent years is that the syntactic component of the human language faculty is invariant – but if so, how do we account for what appears to be syntactic change? Syntactic change is often considered to be closely linked to child language acquisition – but if so, how do we account for apparent long-term tendencies and directionality, given that children have no knowledge of the history of their language? Topics to be investigated in this course include the parametric approach to acquisition and its implications for change, formal approaches to pathways and grammaticalization, and how to combine generative syntax with variationist sociolinguistic methods.
Walkden – syntactic change