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Vortrag am 31. Mai 2011

Prof. Dr. Christina Guardiano (Modena):
"Historical reconstruction in linguistics: The Parametric Comparison Method"

(Vortrag in englischer Sprache)

The contribution of formal syntactic theories to modern linguistics is still widely regarded as
focused on synchronic generalizations rather than on classical evolutionary problems. The new research program I will present here suggests that theoretical syntax may provide unexpected evidence for phylogenetic issues typical of the historical-comparative paradigm.

The level of analysis tentatively used in the research is not that of surface patterns (typically exploited by the more traditional comparison methods), but that of the more abstract grammatical parameters investigated since Chomsky (1981). The Parametric comparison Method contends that formal grammar, along the model of molecular genetics, can be construed as a potential contribution to the study of the human past; and that, in turn, the reality of parameter systems, as cognitive theories of grammatical variation and its implicational structure, receives radically new support precisely from their success with historical issues.

Here, I will show and discuss some results prompted by the first empirical implementations of our method, which essentially suggest that:

1. Syntactic data can be in fact used as an effective tool for language comparison
(Guardiano/Longobardi 2005).

2. Syntactic data prompt themselves as particularly apt to be analyzed through the same
computational and quantitative treatments normally adopted in population genetics in order to measure distances and build philogenetic hypotheses (Longobardi/Guardiano 2009).

3. The results prompted by syntactic comparison can be effectively paralleled to those coming from
population genetics in order to formulate congruence hypotheses (Colonna et al. 2010)

Dieser Vortrag findet statt in Kooperation mit dem Lehrgebiet Romanistik der Leibniz Universität Hannover
Lehrgebiet Romanistik

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