25. April 2023
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Reconstructing Celtic syntax: a case study in developing the parametric method of comparative reconstruction
Abstract: Reconstructing syntax has been the most challenging part of research into language history, phylogeny and proto-languages. Problems regarding directionality, transfer and in particular correspondence seemed impossible to address, until recent advances in syntactic theory. In this talk, I'll discuss ongoing collaborative work on using the Parametric Comparison Method (PCM) for syntactic reconstruction. The Parametric Comparison Method combines the goal of reconstructing language history, with the analytical tools of formal grammar and cognitive science. I'll illustrate this with concrete examples from the history of Celtic.