Evaluating prehistoric and early historic linguistic contacts
This paper discusses methods for evaluating potential language contacts before the earliest written documents. It shows that both evaluation of (usually) sparse empirical evidence and typological evaluation are required for an explanation. Of paramount importance are considerations of specificity of change, its likelihood of occurrence in a certain type of system, and the relative chronology of occurrence in the supposedly contacting systems. The paper focuses on the emergence of the bisyllabic domain for phonological processes in Slavic, accompanied by a number of specific and typologically significant changes of the Great-Migration period, evaluating them in comparison with similar processes in neighboring Indo-European. The second point to be discussed is the emergence of the Celtic verb complex and its word order properties, due to an interplay of predicate aspect with syntactic and prosodic factors.