Subject Placement in the History of Latin

Lieven Danckaert


The aim of this paper is to provide further support for one aspect of the analysis of Classical and Late Latin clause structure proposed in Danckaert (2017a), namely the diachrony of subject placement. According to the relevant proposal, one needs to distinguish an earlier grammar (‘Grammar A’, whose heyday is the period from ca. 200 BC until 200 AD), in which there is no A-movement for subjects, and a later grammar (‘Grammar B’, which is on the rise from ca. 50-100 AD, and fully productive from ca. 200 AD onwards), where subjects optionally move to the inflectional layer. Assuming the variationist acquisition model of language change developed in Yang (2000, 2002a,b), I present corpus evidence which confirms that it is only in the Late Latin period that TP-internal subjects fully establish themselves as a grammatical option.


Latin; language change; word order; subject placement; grammar competition

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