New book: Alignment in Iranian

Geoffrey Haig haig at LINGUISTIK.UNI-KIEL.DE
Wed Feb 27 14:48:45 UTC 2008

The following book has recently appeared and may be of interest to 
Geoff Haig

Haig, Geoffrey (2008)
Alignment change in Iranian languages. A Construction Grammar approach.
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter (367 pp)
This book presents an account of alignment shifts in Iranian languages 
across a time-span of some two and half millennia. It blends data from more 
than 50 Iranian languages and dialects, past and present, with theoretical 
discussion of alignment (ergativity, accusativity), subjecthood, and 
diachronic morphosyntax. Extensive evidence is presented for the claim that 
ergativity in Iranian did not emerge from an agented passive, as has 
commonly been assumed. Rather, the more plausible analysis is that it 
developed from a Non-Canonical Subject construction via extension, rather 
than reanalysis. The proposals thus provide additional support for the 
views of Benveniste, which were put forward more than half a century ago 
but have since lost favour in many circles. A broad Construction Grammar 
framework is adopted because this theory explicitly endorses the concepts 
of constructional polysemy, of non-lexically licensed arguments, and of 
inheritance relations across related constructions - all of which play a 
key role in the changes plotted across the history of Iranian. The 
(non)-interaction of word order with the abandonment of morphological case 
is a further issue discussed in the book. The results have repercussions 
for theories of alignment and grammatical relations, morphosyntactic 
change, and for the comparative syntax of Indo-European.

PD Dr. Geoffrey Haig
Seminar für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
Universität Kiel
24098 Kiel
Tel. ++ 431 880 3314; Fax. ++431 880 7405

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