Coexisting structures and competing functions in genitive word order

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This paper examines the correlations between word order at the clause level and word order at the noun phrase level in languages with no dominant genitive order. In this perspective, the comparison between Latin and English is a revealing domain for investigating both synchronic variation and diachronic evolution. The analysis uses a functional-typological approach; the assumption is that coexisting and competing patterns, as well as regularities and irregularities in word order, can be analyzed through diachrony. Results show that (1) in both languages, structures developing from different sources are assigned different functions according to multiple processing factors; (2) the mechanisms of word order flexibility observed in Latin, <i>mutatis mutandis</i>, can provide some useful insights for English as well.


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