SYNTACTIC DIVERSITIES IN DIACHRONY AND SYNCHRONY (ON THE EXAMPLE OF LEGAL TEXTS)

Author:
Diana Stolac
Email:
diana.stolac@ffri.uniri.hr
Summary
Linguistic traits change over time – some to a greater, and others to a lesser extent. Some are slower to change, others are quicker. Therefore, it is necessary to view syntactic diversity from both the diachronic and the synchronic perspective. Although every legal document is a part of linguistic staticity and we see it as a synchronic segment, an integrated approach to a series of documents in time (that is to a series of such synchronic segments) enables us to determine the dynamics of linguistic phenomena and to interpret them from the diachronic perspective. Our analysis has been conducted on the basis of a large corpus of legal texts beginning from the medieval (starting from the Vinodolski zakon from 1288) and early modern period (including numerous statutes and urbaria), over the 19th century (when the contemporary legal models were established) to our times. We focus on the following three phenomena: the composition of the predicate, the position of the adjective in a noun phrase and the frequency of various types of clauses. The results reveal that the dominant forms in predicates used to be the imperative, the present tense and the conditional, while nowadays the present tense and future are common, that the postposition of the adjective, although more frequent in older texts, is not a rule, and that the most frequent types of clauses are conditional and subject clauses, which is not the case nowadays.
Key words
syntax; diachrony; synchrony; syntactic diversity; dynamic; legal text; Croatian language
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