Edited by Eystein Dahl
[Diachronica 38:3] 2021
► pp. 358–412
Evolutionary dynamics of Indo-European alignment patterns
This paper employs phylogenetic modeling to reconstruct the alignment system of Indo-European. We use a data set of categorical morphosyntactic features, which take states such as ‘nominative-accusative’, ‘active-stative’, or ‘ergative’. We analyze these characters with a standard Bayesian comparative phylogenetic method, inferring transition rates between character states on the basis of a phylogenetic representation of the languages in the data. Using these rates, we then reconstruct the probability of presence of traits at the root and nodes of Indo-European. We find that the most probable alignment system for Proto-Indo-European is a nominative-accusative system, with low probabilities of neutral marking and ergativity in the categories lower in grammatical hierarchies (nouns, past). Using a test of phylogenetic signal, we find that characters pertaining to categories higher in hierarchies show greater phylogenetic stability than categories lower in hierarchies. We examine our results in relation to theories of Proto-Indo-European alignment as well as to general typology.
- 1.1The study: An overview
- 1.2Comparative, typological and phylogenetic models of reconstruction
- 1.3Indo-European alignment – reconstructions by comparative syntax
- 1.4Marking and animacy hierarchies in alignment
- 1.5General trends in the family
- 2.Data, model and method
- 2.1Data: Languages and coding models
- 2.2The Bayesian phylogenetic comparative reconstruction model
- 2.3The model for assessing phylogenetic stability across characters
- 3.1Result overview
- 3.2Proto-language probabilities in the light of reconstruction by the comparative method and diachronic typology
- 3.3Probability levels and grammatical hierarchies of alignment
- 3.4Phylogenetic strength
- 3.5Summary of results
- 4.Concluding discussion: Reconstructing the evolution of alignment
- Appendices: Data and results
- Appendix 1.
- Appendix 2.
- Appendix 3.
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