p.p1 keeps exploring the link between parameter-setting and language

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Despite the fact that it is system-internal and not designed to account for language in diachrony, the generative framework is nevertheless getting increasingly involved in the discussion of historical linguistics. Parameter theory and linguistic change, as one of the latest generativist effort on diachronic linguistics, keeps exploring the link between parameter-setting and language change by examining historical syntactic issues in Afro-Asiatic, Latin and Romance, Germanic, Albanian, Celtic, Indo-Iranian, and Japanese. The volume started off with a general discussion around dynamics of language change in a Principles&Principles (P&P) tradition, and how this approach can contribute beyond historical syntax, shedding light upon linguistic theory in large. The rest is arranged into chapter based case studies with each chapter dealing with a recurrent issue of diachronic syntax from a generative perspective. 
     The linked themes of parametric theory and the dynamics of language change is based off a genenrativist understanding of language acquisition and grammatical change. If the notion of “imperfect” learning is assumed to explain grammatical change and parameter-setting underlies the acquisition process, then it becomes crucial to interpret how parameters are set in language acquisition and how they might have been set differently in previous generations. In other words, parameter theory is central to the explanatory adequacy in a generativist historical syntax. In light of a radicalized narrowest syntax of Minimalist Program (MP) and a broadening collection of empirical bases, a well-rounded testing of theoretical hypotheses against data of various chronological and geographical nature seems only fitting and conducive under the circumstances.
     The first issue that leads the rest of the discussion focus on parametric analysis in Old Romance word order. “Parameters in Old Romance word order” by Guido Mensching carried out a comparative study of two syntactic structures in Old Romance, namely the XP-V-S structure and the Aux-XP-Part structure. With a minimalist scheme in place, it is to be argued that both structures can be modelled in the reflexes of the same parameter, which Mensching discovered as the existence of an optional EPP feature at v0 (head of vP), which triggers the movement of XPs to its specifier. In a classic system-internal point of view, structural-information is highlighted as the trigger of movement, as opposed to Pletto’s (2005) cartographic theory.
     Chris Sapp, in his “Micro-parameters in the verbal complex”, links verbal complexes in Middle High German (MHG) with microparametric variation. Verbal complex, in the case of German, essentially accommodates the fact that MHG allows two possible word orders of the verbs in subordinate clauses: the non-finite verb preceding the finite one or the inverse sequence, while Modern Standard German (MSG), on the other hand, disallows the latter. With the help of  the Bochumer Mittelhochdeutsch corpus and the statistics package GoldVarb X (Sandkoff et al., 2005), Sapp conducted a variationist analysis to argue that, instead of a parametric change shifting from SVO towards a consistent verb-final structure (Lehmann 1971), the fixing of verb cluster possibilities that took place in MSG is more of a sociolinguistic change from above.
     “Language acquisition in German and phrase structure change in Yiddish” seeks to enhance the connection between language acquisition and change by looking into a major phrase change in the history of Yeddish, the shift in the structure of TP from a Tense final grammar to the Tense medial grammar in present time. Taking the acquisition model proposed by Yang (2000) as the theoretical backbone, the author, Joel Wallenberg critically tested the Yang’s acquisition algorithm and argues that the model wrongly predicts a stable status of the Tense final grammar. Wallenberg’s suggestion of improvement borrows the idea of antisymmetric approach to diachronic analysis from Kayne (1994), which ruled out verb projection raising constructions (VPR) as evidence of Tense final grammar.

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