Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2589-1588
  • E-ISSN: 2589-1596
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



It is an old and widespread assumption in historical linguistics that hypotactic structures evolved out from paratactic structures. In more recent times, the parataxis-to-hypotaxis hypothesis was associated with the assumption that syntactic structures are discourse-based. This means that hypotactic structures evolved via syntacticization, i.e., via “a process by which flat, paratactic discourse-pragmatic structures transform over time into tight, hierarchic syntactic structures” (Givón 1979: 82f.). One special aspect of this assumption is that complementizers are held to have grammaticalized from nouns, verbs, prepositions, or pronouns in bi-sentential, paratactic source structures. In this paper, I will re-evaluate the existing evidence for the parataxis-to-hypotaxis hypothesis with special focus on the emergence of complementizers. The result of the re-evaluation is that in all cases, where we have enough historical data to reconstruct the development in detail, we have to assume a source structure that already displays subordination. In most cases, the subordinate clause is a relative clause suggesting that relativization is probably the oldest form of subordination. The over-all result of the re-evaluation is that there is no reliable evidence at all for the parataxis-to-hypotaxis hypothesis in its current form.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Amaral, L. , Maia, M. , Nevins, A. , & Roeper, T.
    (Eds.) (2018) Recursion across Domains. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108290708
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108290708 [Google Scholar]
  2. Asher, N. , & Lascarides, A.
    (2003) Logics of conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Asher, N. , & Vieu, L.
    (2005) Subordinating and coordinating discourse relations. Lingua, 115, 591–610. 10.1016/j.lingua.2003.09.017
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2003.09.017 [Google Scholar]
  4. Axel-Tober, K.
    (2012) (Nicht-)Kanonische Nebensätze im Deutschen. Synchrone und Diachrone Aspekte. Berlin, Boston: Walter de Guyter. 10.1515/9783110276671
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110276671 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2017) The development of the declarative complementizer in German. Language93(2), e29–e65. 10.1353/lan.2017.0030
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0030 [Google Scholar]
  6. Comrie, B. , & Horie, K.
    (1995) Complement clauses vs. relative clauses: some Khmer evidence. In W. Abraham (Eds.), Discourse grammar and typology, (pp.65–75). Amsterdam: Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.27.07com
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.27.07com [Google Scholar]
  7. DeLancy, S.
    (2011) Grammaticalization and syntax: A Functional view. In B. Heine & H. Narrog (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, (pp.365–377). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Delbrück, B.
    (1909) Zu den germanischen Relativsätzen. Abhandlungen der phil.-hist. Klasse der königlich sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 27, 675–697.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Deutscher, G.
    (2009) Nominalization and the origin of subordination. In T. Givón & M. Shibatani (Eds.), Syntactic complexity: Diachrony, acquisition, neuro-cognition, evolution, (pp.199–214). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.85.08nom
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.85.08nom [Google Scholar]
  10. Diessel, H.
    (2019) Preposed adverbial clauses: Functional adaptation and diachronic inheritance. In K. Schmidtke-Bode (Eds.), Explanations in Linguistic Typology: Diachronic Sources, Functional Motivations and the Nature of the Evidence, (pp.191–226). Leipzig: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Everett, D. L.
    (2005) Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã. Another Look at the Design Features of Human Language. Current Anthropology, 46(4), 621–646. 10.1086/431525
    https://doi.org/10.1086/431525 [Google Scholar]
  12. Faarlund, J. T.
    (2004) The Syntax of Old Norse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Ferraresi, G. & Weiß, H.
    (2011) >Al die wîle und ich lebe<. Und nicht nur koordinierend. In E. Breindl , G. Ferraresi & A. Volodina (Eds.), Satzverknüpfung mehrdimensional. Zur Interaktion von Form, Bedeutung und Diskursfunktion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, (pp.79–106). Tübingen: Niemeyer. 10.1515/9783110252378.79
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110252378.79 [Google Scholar]
  14. Franco, L.
    (2012) On Case and Clauses: Subordination and the Spell-Out of nonterminals. In B. Surányi & D. Varga (Eds.), Proceedings of the First Central European Conference in Linguistics for postgraduate Students, (pp.82–103). Budapest: Pázmány Péter Catholic University
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fritz, M.
    (2002) IV. Zur Syntax des Urindogermanischen. In M. Meier-Brügger (Ed.), Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft. 8., völlig neubearbeitete Auflage der früheren Darstellung von Hans Krahe. Unter Mitarbeit von Matthias Fritz und Manfred Mayrhofer, (pp.241–280). Berlin, New York: de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Futrell, R. , Stearns, L. , Everett, D. L. , Piantadosi, S. T. & Gibson, E.
    (2016) A Corpus Investigation of Syntactic Embedding in Piraha. Edited by Mark Aronoff . PLoS ONE, 11(3), e0145289. 10.1371/journal.pone.0145289
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0145289 [Google Scholar]
  17. Givón, T.
    (1979) From discourse to syntax: grammar as a processing strategy. In T. Givón (Ed.), Discourse and Syntax, (pp.81–112). New York: Academic Press. 10.1163/9789004368897_005
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004368897_005 [Google Scholar]
  18. Güldemann, T.
    (2006) Structural isoglosses between Khoekhoe and Tuu: the Cape as a linguistic area. In Matras, Y. , McMahon, A. & Vincent, N. (Eds.), Linguistic areas: convergence in historical and typological perspective, (pp.99–134). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230287617_5
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230287617_5 [Google Scholar]
  19. Haider, H. , & Zwanziger, R.
    (1984) Relatively attributive – The ‘ezafe’-construction from Old Iranian to Modern Persian. In J. Fisiak (Ed.), Historical Syntax, (pp.137–172). Berlin: Mouton. 10.1515/9783110824032.137
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110824032.137 [Google Scholar]
  20. Harbert, W.
    (2007) The Germanic languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Harris, A. & Campbell, L.
    (1995) Historical Syntax in Cross-linguistic Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511620553
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620553 [Google Scholar]
  22. Hartman, J. F.
    (2012) Varieties of Clausal Complementation. PhD Dissertation. Massachusatts: MIT.
  23. Haspelmath, M.
    (1998) Does grammaticalization need reanalysis?Studies in Language, 22(2), 49–85. 10.1075/sl.22.2.03has
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.22.2.03has [Google Scholar]
  24. (2010) Grammatikalisierung: von der Performanz zur Kompetenz ohne angeborene Grammatik. In L. Hoffmann (Ed.), Sprachwissenschaft. Ein Reader, (pp.751–773). Berlin, New York: de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Heine, B. , & König, C.
    (2015) The !Xun Language. A Dialect Grammar of Northern Khoisan. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Heine, B. , & Kuteva, T.
    (2007) The Genesis of Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hopper, P. J. & Traugott, E. C.
    (2003) Grammaticalization. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139165525
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139165525 [Google Scholar]
  28. Jäger, A.
    (2018) Vergleichskonstruktionen im Deutschen. Diachroner Wandel und synchrone Variation. Berlin, Boston: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110561234
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110561234 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kayne, R.
    (2010) Why isn’t This a complementizer?. In R. Kayne (Ed.), Comparison and Contrasts, (pp.190–227). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. (ms. NYU). On Complementizers and Relative Pronouns in Germanic vs. Romance.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Kiparsky, P.
    (1995) Indo-European origins of Germanic syntax. In A. Battye & I. Roberts (Eds.), Clause structure and language change, (pp.140–69). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Kratzer, A.
    (2006) Decomposing attitude verbs. Talk presented at theworkshop in honor of Anita Mittwoch. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. July 4, 2006.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. (2016) Evidential Moods and the Semantics of Attitude and Speech Reports. Talk given at theUniversity of Pennsylvania (May 5, 2016), the 1st Syncart Workshop (Siena, July 13, 2016), and the University of Connecticut (September 9, 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Kühnert, H. , & Wagner, E. -M.
    (2004) Konnektive in der diachronen Entwicklung des Jiddischen. In M. Kozianka , R. Lühr & S. Zeilfelder (Eds.), Indogermanistik – Germanistik – Linguistik. Akten der Arbeitstagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, Jena 18.-20.09.2002, (pp.261–299). Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovač.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Lehmann, C.
    (1988) Towards a typology of clause linkage. In J. Haiman & S. A. Thompson (Eds.), Clause combining in grammar and discourse, (pp.181–225). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.18.09leh
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.18.09leh [Google Scholar]
  36. (2015) Thoughts on grammaticalization. 3rd edition. Berlin: Language Science Press (Classics in Linguistics, 1). 10.26530/OAPEN_603353
    https://doi.org/10.26530/OAPEN_603353 [Google Scholar]
  37. Luján, E. R.
    (2009) On the grammaticalization of *kwi-/kwo relative clauses in Proto-Indo-European. In V. Bubenik , J. Hewson & S. Rose (Eds.), Grammatical change in Indo-European languages: papers presented at theworkshop on Indo-European linguistics at the XVIIIth International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Montreal, 2007, (pp.221–234). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.305.22luj
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.305.22luj [Google Scholar]
  38. Lühr, R.
    (2000) Der Nebensatz und seine Konkurrenten in der Indogermania: Der altindische Relativsatz. Historische Sprachforschung / Historical Linguistics, 113, 71–87.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Moulton, K.
    (2009) Natural selection and the syntax of clausal complementation. Doctoral dissertation. Amherst: University of Massachusetts.
  40. (2015) CPs: Copies and Compositionality. Linguistic Inquiry, 46(2), 305–342. 10.1162/LING_a_00183
    https://doi.org/10.1162/LING_a_00183 [Google Scholar]
  41. Narrog, H. , & Heine, B.
    (2011) Introduction. In B. Heine & H. Narrog (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, (pp.1–18). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Ohori, T.
    (2011) The Grammaticalization of subordination. In: B. Heine & H. Narrog (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization, (pp.636–645). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Oppermann, S.
    (t.a.). ‘Non-coordinating und’ in Middle and Early New High German. Journal of Historical Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Poletto, C. , & Sanfelici, E.
    (2018) Demonstratives as relative pronouns: new insight from Italian varieties. In M. Coniglio (Eds.), Atypical demonstratives. Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics, (pp.95–126). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110560299‑004
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110560299-004 [Google Scholar]
  45. Portele, Y. , & Bader, M.
    (2016) Accessibility and referential choice: Personal pronouns and d-pronouns in written German. Discours. Revue de linguistique, psycholinguistique et informatique, 18, 1–41.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Reich, I. , Reis, M. , Ehrich, V. , & Fortmann, C.
    (2009) Einführung. In V. Ehrich (Eds.), Koordination und Subordination im Deutschen, (pp.5–20). Hamburg: Buske.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Reis, M.
    (1997) Zum syntaktischen Status unselbständiger Verbzweit-Sätze. In C. Dürscheid , K. -H. Ramers & M. Schwarz (Eds.), Sprache im Fokus: Festschrift für Heinz Vater zum 65. Geburtstag, (pp.121–44). Tübingen: Niemeyer.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Rosenplüt, H.
    (1996) Der fünfmal getötete Pfarrer. In K. Grubmüller (Ed.), Novellistik des Mittelalters. Märendichtung, (pp.898–914). Frankfurt/Main: Dt. Klassiker Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Runenprojekt Kiel
    Runenprojekt Kiel: www.runenprojekt.uni-kiel.de
  50. Schreiber, N.
    (2011) The diachronic development of complementisers in the Germanic languages. PhD Dissertation. Frankfurt/Main: Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main.
  51. Shi, Y. , & Li, C. N.
    (2002) The establishment of the classifier system and the grammaticalization of the morphosyntactic particle de in Chinese. Language Sciences, 24, 1–15. 10.1016/S0388‑0001(00)00048‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0388-0001(00)00048-6 [Google Scholar]
  52. van Gelderen, E.
    (2004) Grammaticalization as Economy. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/la.71
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.71 [Google Scholar]
  53. Wagener, T.
    (2017) The History of Nordic Relative Clauses. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110496536
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110496536 [Google Scholar]
  54. Walde, A. , & Hofmann, J. B.
    (1938) Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Erster Band A – L.3. neubearbeitete Auflage. Heidelberg: Winter.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Weiß, H.
    (2013) Satztyp und Dialekt. In J. Meibauer , M. Steinbach & H. Altmann (Eds.), Satztypen des Deutschen, (pp.763–784). Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110224832.764
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110224832.764 [Google Scholar]
  56. (2016)  So welih wíb so wari. Zur Genese freier w-Relativsätze im Deutschen. In S. Neri , R. Schuhmann & S. Zeilfelder (Eds.), “Dat ih dir it nu bi huldi gibu”. Linguistische, germanistische und indogermanistische Studien Rosemarie Lühr gewidmet, (pp.505–516). Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. (2019) Rebracketing (Gliederungsverschiebung) and the Early Merge Prinicple. Diachronica, 36(4), 509–545. 10.1075/dia.00015.wei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.00015.wei [Google Scholar]
  58. Zeevaert, L.
    (2006) Variation und kontaktinduzierter Wandel im Altschwedischen. Hamburg: Universität Hamburg.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Zingarelli, N.
    (2010) Lo Zingarelli on-line: vocabolario della lingua italiana. Bologna: Zanichelli.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error