Syntactic reconstruction in indo-european: state of the art
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Veleia 33 : 83-102 (2016)
lnterest in syntactic reconstruction was implicit in the work of the founding fathers of the Comparative Method, including Franz Bopp and his contemporaries. The Neo-Grammarians took a more active interest in syntactic issues, concentrating especially on comparative descriptive syntax. In the 20th century, typologically-inspired research gave rise to several reconstructions of neutral word order for Proto-Indo-European. This work was met with severe criticism by Watkins (1976), which had the unfortunate effect that work on syntactic reconstruction reached a methodological impasse and was largely abandoned. However, the pioneering work of Hale (1987a), Garrett (1990) and Harris & Campbell (1995) showed that syntactic reconstruction could be carried out successfully. Currently, three different strands of work on syntactic reconstruction can be identified: i) the traditional Indo-Europeanists, ii) the generativists, and iii) the construction grammarians.The reconstructions of the two first strands are incomplete, either due to lack of formal representation, or due to the inability of the representational system to explicate the details of the form-meaning correspondences underlying any analysis of syntactic reconstruction.In contrast, Construction Grammar has at its disposal a full-fledged representational formalism where all aspects of grammar can be made explicit, hence allowing for the precise formulations of form-meaning correspondences needed to carry out a complete reconstruction. This is exemplified in the present paper with a reconstruction of grammatical relations for Proto-Germanic, involving a set of argument structure constructions and the subject tests applicable in the grammar of the proto-stage.