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Variation in PComparative Approaches to Adpositional Phrases$
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Jacopo Garzonio and Silvia Rossi

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190931247

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190931247.001.0001

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Comitative P

Comitative P

(p.218) Chapter 8 Comitative P
Variation in P

Anna Maria Di Sciullo

Marco Nicolis

Stanca Somesfalean

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   diachrony of Italian, comitative P, P-Shell analysis, developmental universals, directional asymmetry principle, symmetry breaking

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