Edited by Gisella Ferraresi and Maria Goldbach
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 302] 2008
► pp. 97–119
Reconstructing complex structures: A typological perspective
Depending of the type of results we wish to achieve, different methods need to be employed in reconstructing proto-languages. In the first part of this paper I shall discuss the Comparative Method and elaborate why, I believe, this method is in principle not suitable for syntactic reconstruction. In the second part of the paper, I shall discuss alternative methods, which, although not unproblematic either, are, in my view, more promising for this purpose from a typological perspective. One is the use of implicational universals and the inferences on diachronic processes that can be drawn from them. In the second approach, cross-linguistic regularities of grammaticalization processes are used to reconstruct complex structures in proto-languages. Both these approaches have in common that they draw on crosslinguistic data, but both also display considerable differences.
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