Historical linguistics, the oldest field in linguistics, has been traditionally dominated by phonological and etymological investigations. Only in the late twentieth century have linguists begun to focus their interest and research on the area of syntactic change and the insight it provides on the nature of language. This volume represents the first major contribution on the mechanisms of syntactic change.
The fourteen articles that make up this volume were selected from the Symposium on the Mechanisms of Syntactic Change held at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1976, one of a series of three conferences sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
These papers clearly demonstrate that the generative approach to the study of language does not explain diachronic processes in syntax. This collection is enlightening, provocative, and carefully documented with data drawn from a great variety of language families.