CORDIS - EU research results

Competition between subjunctive and infinitive in the history of German, Balkan Slavic and Romance languages

Project description

Tracking the subjunctive-infinitive competition across languages

Language is a remarkable phenomenon, with mechanisms that are constantly evolving. The EU-funded CompSubjInf project will shed light on the historical development of the competition between the grammatical categories of the subjunctive and of the infinitive, across a range of different European languages. For instance, while the Germanic languages (German and Swedish) replaced the subjective with the infinitive, the Balkan languages (Greek and Bulgarian) replaced the infinitive with the subjective. On the other hand, the Romance languages (Italian and French) have kept both subjective and infinitive, but use them in different syntactic contexts. The project will track the diachronic stages along which the phenomenon in question developed. It will also review the underlying grammatical factors contributing to the phenomenon.


The project focuses on the area of language change and evolution (i.e. diachronic linguistics), specifically as it pertains to the use of subjunctive (Subj) and infinitive (Inf). Subj and Inf are involved in the phenomenon of grammatical competition (CompSubjInf) across different groups of European languages: (i) Germanic (e.g. German, Swedish) largely replaced Subj with Inf; (ii) Balkan (e.g. Greek, Bulgarian) underwent a reverse process, replacing Inf with Subj; (iii) Romance (e.g. Italian, French) still use both Subj and Inf, but employ them in different syntactic contexts. CompSubjInf represents one of the important grammatical aspects underlying linguistic diversity between European languages, but the phenomenon has not yet been sufficiently studied from a scientific perspective. The state-of-the-art literature provides a comprehensive typological overview of different present-day manifestations of CompSubjInf across languages in (i-iii). Nevertheless, the diachronic developments that led to the situation we observe today remain understudied. The present project proposes to fill in this gap. The applicant will study several representative languages for each group outlined in (i-iii): German for (i), Balkan Slavic (e.g. Bulgarian, Serbian) for (ii), and Italian and French for (iii). The overall objective of the project is two-fold: firstly, describe the evolving historical tendencies pertaining to CompSubjInf in these languages; secondly, identify the underlying factors (both linguistic and extra-linguistic) that led to these tendencies. The applicant is well-suited to achieve these goals due to the extensive training in theoretical linguistic analysis that he has already received, which will be combined with additional training on the descriptive, data-oriented side of the analysis within the scope of the project. This will also ensure that the applicant emerges from the fellowship as a more well-rounded researcher with broader career opportunities.


Net EU contribution
€ 251 002,56
30123 Venezia

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Nord-Est Veneto Venezia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 251 002,56

Partners (1)