If one regards a language as vocabulary cast into the mould of a particular syntax (with functional items maintaining the basic structure of a sentence and with the lexical items filling in the blanks), syntactic change no doubt plays the greatest role in modifying the physiognomy of a particular language. Syntactic change affects grammar in its morphological and syntactic aspects and is one of the types of change observed in language change.
Syntactic change is a phenomenon creating a shift in language patterns over time, subject to cyclic drift. The morphological idiosyncracies of today are seen as the outcome of yesterday's regular syntax. For instance, in English, the past tense of the verb to go is not goed or any other form based on the base go, as could be expected, but went, a borrowing from the past tense of the verb to wend.
- Henri Wittmann (1983). "Les réactions en chaîne en morphologie diachronique." Actes du Colloque de la Société internationale de linguistique fonctionnelle 10.285-92.
- Talmy Givon, Historical syntax and synchronic morphology: an archaeologist's field trip. Papers from the Regional Meetings of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 1971, 7.394-415.
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