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Vulnerable Left Periphery: Why there is no other alternative to change

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  • UserProf. Enoch Aboh (University of Amsterdam)
  • ClockThursday 11 November 2021, 16:30-18:00
  • HouseOnline: Zoom talk.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Javier Moreno.

A standard observation in linguistics is that every child learning a language recreates it, and develops a mental grammar that is slightly distant from that of other members of her speech community (to be understood as a social network). Because every speaker-learner internalizes a mental grammar of her own, the cumulative effect over several generations leads to E-language change. Therefore, I- and E-languages change constantly. Here is the puzzle: Given these three points, thousands of years of human evolution would make one expect the range of cross-linguistic structural variation to be a lot wider than what typologists actually observe. Why is linguistic structural variation so severely restricted? In this talk, I argue that only phrase left peripheral properties are subject to structural change (to some extent). If the Left Periphery is a Phase, then linguistic variation, underlying typological variation, is a Phase-level property.

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This talk is part of the Cambridge Linguistics Forum series.

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