Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124



Prior to widespread contact with Russian, Khanty (Uralic; Finno-Ugric) did not have overt conjunctions or phrasal coordination. Instead, Khanty texts from the late 19th–early 20th centuries only include examples of conjunction-less clausal juxtaposition, which was used for both clausal and phrasal coordination. By comparing Khanty texts over the 20th century, we trace the emergence of overt conjunctions and coordination of phrasal constituents. We show that overt conjunctions first appeared in the context of clausal coordination, followed by coordination of smaller phrases. Based on novel elicitation data, we demonstrate that, in contemporary Khanty, (i) overt conjunctions are commonplace, (ii) coordinated clausal constituents may be derived via phrasal coordination or clausal coordination with conjunction reduction/ellipsis, but (iii) ellipsis of syntactic heads is banned (nouns & postpositions) or dispreferred (verbs). Based on this diachronic picture, we conclude that the coordination of phrasal constituents only emerged in Khanty once overt conjunctions became available. We derive this correlation from the Maximize On-line Processing principle (Hawkins 2004), and show that this maxim, usually invoked in the context of speech planning and production, can be successfully applied to modelling language change.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): co-compounds; conjunction reduction; conjunctions; coordination; ellipsis; Khanty; Uralic
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