By A.F.C. Read
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The Principles-and-Parameters method of linguistic thought has prompted a massive quantity of labor in comparative syntax during the last decade or so. A traditional outcome of the expansion in synchronic comparative paintings has been a renewed curiosity in questions of diachronic syntax, and this assortment testifies to that development.
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G. Johanson 2002: 120–134). The proposal of possible correlations between characteristics of a language and its relative clause type(s) is important to diachronic typology as well. Some ‘universals’ or tendencies may be the result of historical processes, so that they provide clues to the sorts of changes that might occur and therefore can be a starting point for a diachronic study such as this one. Conversely, if principles of syntactic processing, ‘universal grammar’ or constraints on language acquisition and contact processes underlie synchronic ‘universals’, then similar principles would also constrain what can occur diachronically.
While Downing suggested that the correlation between the presence of postnominal relative clauses and VO word order was a commutable relationship (Downing 1978: 383), it has since been shown that there is only a one-way Chapter 1. Introduction implication, namely that VO word order implies the existence of postnominal RCs, and not the other way around. Downing also claimed universal status for two of his correlations (correlative relative clauses and internally headed RCs only being present in OV languages), while later studies have found exceptions to these rules, so that they can only be said to be statistical tendencies rather than true universals.
Some studies, particularly those that situate themselves within the framework of ‘grammaticalization theory’, have restricted themselves to lexical change involving relative clause markers. This is the case for the information on relative clauses included in Heine and Kuteva (2002). As its title suggests, this is less an in-depth discussion of any particular language changes, than an attempt to list exhaustively those changes that have been discussed in the literature elsewhere. Although Heine and Kuteva do not discuss every change in great detail themselves, they give brief examples of most and list useful references where appropriate.