Language Evolution and Language Decay: the notion of Protolanguage in the generative grammar perspective

Starting date
January 1, 2012
Duration (months)
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Managers or local contacts
Tomaselli Alessandra
Merge, Protolanguage, Functional Categories

Since Hauser-Chomsky-Fitch (2002) the operation Merge has been taken to be the discriminating boundary between language and non-language. In our project, we propose some reflections on the simplest stage of this syntactic mechanism, namely the so-called Head-head Merge (Primary Merge in Rizzi’s 2010 Complexity Scale), showing that silent functional categories must be necessarily assumed in order to explain the realization of the most basic hierarchical structure. In this perspective the notion of “protolanguage” turns out to be as contradictory as the notion of “protogrammar”. The rise and explosion of overt functional categories should be taken as an object of investigation proper of the field of Historical Grammar.


Funds: assigned and managed by the department

Project participants

Collaboratori esterni

Ermenegildo Bidese
Università degli Studi di Trento Studi Letterari, Linguistici e Filologici ricercatore confermato
Andrea Padovan
Università degli Studi di Verona docente a contratto
Research areas involved in the project
Lingua e linguistica tedesca
Language Change, Language Planning, Language Policies – Sprachwandel, Sprachplanung, Sprachpolitik
Title Authors Year
Against Protolanguage Tomaselli, Alessandra; Bidese, E.; Padovan, Andrea 2012


Research facilities