Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

David Goldstein (Vienna): Conjunction strategies in Indo-European

Building on Mitrovi? and Sauerland (2014), Mitrovi? (forthcoming) makes a number of interesting claims about conjunction strategies in Indo-European. At the broadest level, he argues that archaic Indo-European was characterized by a double system of conjunction, which included both head-initial ('x and y') and postposed ('x y and') strategies. Over time, this double system yields to the single-conjunction system characeristic of contemporary English (among many other contemporary IE languages), via a process in which last-resort syntactic movement becomes a ``first response.'' I offer an alternative portrait of conjunction in the earliest daughter languages of archaic Indo-European, in which this ``double system'' is in fact an innovation. The development of head-initial conjunction is motivated by the functional weakening of postposed conjunction (it serves to conjoin ``natural pairs'') and its variable surface distribution. The rise of head-initial conjunction reflects the complex interplay between UG bias and language-specific constraints.