This book shows how the generative approach to linguistics may be used to understand how languages change. Generative diachronic syntax has developed since the inception of the principles and parameters approach to comparative syntax in the early 1980s: it has become increasingly important in historical linguistics and generative theory, acting as a bridge between them and providing insights to both. Ian Roberts relates work in historical linguistics to contemporary work on universal grammar and historical syntactic variation. He explains how standard questions in historical linguistics - including word-order change, grammaticalization, and reanalysis - can be explored in terms of current generative theory. He examines the nature of the links between syntactic change and first-language acquisition and considers the short and long-term effects of language contact. Professor Roberts provides numerous examples from a range of different languages, guides to further reading, and a comprehensive glossary. This is the ideal textbook introduction for students of syntactic change.
Ian Roberts is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. He obtained his PhD at the University of Southern California in 1985. He has held chairs at the University of Wales, Bangor, and at the University of Stuttgart. His books include The Representation of Implicit and Dethematized Subjects (FORIS, 1987), Verbs and Diachronic Syntax (Kluwer, 1993), Comparative Syntax (Edward Arnold, 1996), Syntactic Change (CUP,
2003, with Anna Roussou), and Principles and Parameters in a VSO Language: A Case Study in Welsh (OUP, 2005).