This chapter investigates the diachronic development of the Italian comitative preposition con “with” and its pronominal complement. The authors verify the predictions of the Directional Asymmetry Principle, an independently motivated developmental universal, in the diachrony of Italian and argue that symmetry breaking reduces the choice between a valued and an unvalued variant of a functional feature associated with a functional head, here comitative P. As predicted by the hypothesis, this choice, which was available in earlier stages of Italian, is gradually reduced in Modern Italian. The authors relate variation in language to variation in evolutionary developmental biology. Because language variation is biologically grounded, and variation is a central concept in biology, a deeper understanding of linguistic diversity can be foreseen, that is, an understanding that goes beyond explanatory adequacy.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.