The Syntax-Semantics reading group will be meeting on Thursday, January 25th at 1:30pm (instead of 1pm) in Rm. 117 of the McGill Linguistics department, with a Zoom room open for those unable to join in person.

This week, Ryan Windhearn (Concordia) will be giving a talk entitled: “Evidence from Innovation: Reconstructing Indo-European Clause Structure”. The abstract is below:

Traditionally in comparative reconstruction, innovations are not useful for informing the reconstruction of proto-languages (and for good reason, though they are of course useful for subgrouping purposes). In this paper, however, I will show that due to the unique hierarchical properties of syntax, innovation can in fact reveal inherited structural relationships that would otherwise remain opaque. Specifically, based on the complementizers innovated across the ancient Indo-European (IE) languages, along with the strikingly parallel word orders seen in the auxiliary constructions innovated across these languages, I propose a disharmonically headed reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) clause structure, and provide a modern, theory-informed answer to the hundred-year-old question of PIE word order.

Please register in advance HERE to receive the Zoom link. You can also share this link with others who may want to join.