Syntactic Change in Akkadian

Syntactic Change in Akkadian : The Evolution of Sentential Complementation

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In this book Guy Deutscher examines the historical development of Akkadian, the oldest recorded Semitic language and one of the earliest attested languages. Two thousand years of texts from 2500BC to 500BC provide a unique source for the study of linguistic change. The first two parts of the book present an historical grammar of sentential complementation. Part one traces the emergence of new structures, describing how finite complements first developed, and tracing the grammaticalization of the quotative construction. Part two examines the language's functional history. It looks at the evolution of linguistic structures, showing for example how finite complements and embedded questions became more widespread as other parataxis and non-finite complements receded. In the final part of the book the author puts these changes in a broader typological perspective and compares the development of Akkadian to similar processes in other languages. The emergence of finite complementation may, he suggests, be an adaptive process, related to the growing complexity of communication.
This book throws new light on the nature of linguistic change and offers fresh insights on a language that has rarely been presented to non-specialists, despite its enormous historical importance.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Bilingual edition
  • Bilingual
  • 0199532222
  • 9780199532223

About Guy Deutscher

Guy Deutscher is at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia at the University of Leiden in Holland. His book, The Unfolding of Language, was published in 2005 to both critical and popular acclaim.
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Table of contents

PART I: PRELIMINARY CHAPTERS ; 1. Introduction ; 2. What is Sentential Complementation? ; 3. Akkadian ; PART II: STRUCTURAL HISTORY: THE EMERGENCE OF COMPLEMENTIZERS AND QUOTATIVES ; 4. The Emergence of Finite Complements ; 5. The Grammaticalization of the Quotative Construction ; PART III: FUNCTIONAL HISTORY: THE CHANGES IN THE FUNCTIONAL DOMAIN OF COMPLEMENTATION FROM 2500 BC TO 500 BC ; 6. The Functional Domain of Complementation in Babylonian ; 7. Verbs of Knowledge, Perception, and Others ; 8. Manipulation and Modality ; 9. The WH-Functional Domain, Direct and Indirect Questions ; PART IV: THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPLEMENTATION AS AN ADAPTIVE PROCESS ; 10. Functional Parallels for the Babylonian Development ; 11. The Development of Complementation as an Adaptive Process ; Glossary ; References ; Index of Subjects ; Index of Quoted Texts
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Review quote

Important and innovative. * Word * An important milestone... and an extremely well-thought-out study, combining competence in both Assyriology and general linguistics, whose features are a clear argumentation, carefully distilled and lucid data, and good comparative typological evidence. This reviewer found the reading of this book to be pure pleasure. * Journal of Semitic Studies * A pioneering survey, an original and badly needed exploration of historical Akkadian syntax. * Diachronica * Excellent and thoroughly enjoyable book. It is a highly original and even a pioneering work. * Bibliotheca Orientalis * Review from previous edition It is arguably the most successful attempt at combining linguistics and Assyriology, and the work combines clarity of argumentation with new thinking about Akkadian grammar. * Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies *
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