Growing syntax: the development of a DP in North Germanic

Kersti Börjars, Pauline Harries, Nigel Vincent

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Grammaticalisation as standardly conceived is a change whereby an item develops from a lexical to a grammatical or functional mean- ing, or from being less to more grammatical. In this paper we show that this can only be part of the story; for a full account we need to understand the syntactic structures into which grammaticalising elements fit and how they too develop. To achieve this end we con- sider in detail the history of definiteness marking within the noun phrase in North Germanic, and in particular in Faroese. We show how this change requires us to distinguish between projecting and non-projecting categories, and how a category can emerge over time and only subsequently develop into a head with its own associated functional projection. The necessary structure, rather than being in- trinsic to an aprioristic universal grammar, grows over time as part of the grammaticalisation process. We suggest that this in turn ar- gues for a parallel correspondence theory of grammar such as the one adopted here, Lexical-Functional Grammar, in which different dimensions of linguistic structure can change at different rates
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e37
JournalLanguage (Washington)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • emerging structure, Old Norse, Faroese, DP, structural persistence


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