In (Peškovskij, 1914, p. 246) I stumbled upon the following (Russian) assertion:

Opisannoe vytesnenie predikativnogo imenitel'nogo tvoritel'nym možno rassmatrivat' kak častnyj slučaj obščego stremlenii indoevropejskix jazykov zamenjat' pa r allel'nye konstrukcii neparallel'nymi.

Roughly translated, the bold part suggests that Indo-European languages do have a 'general tendency' towards replacing 'parallel' constructions with 'non-parallel' constructions. From the context, I assume that with parallel are meant constructions with grammatical case agreement.

I assume that this might be a 'natural phenomenon' which occurs as to avoid (syntactical) ambiguity. My question is: what is this related "tendency" of Indo-European Languages? (And possibly, any interesting sources that explain it)

Peškovskij, A. (1914). Russkij sintaksis v naučnom osveščenii. Moscow, first edition

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    The loss of things like nominal cases (replaced by prepositional constructions), personal verb endings (replaced by mandatory pronouns), verbal tense/aspect/mood forms (replaced by constructions with auxiliary verbs), etc., is certainly a common and well-known phenomenon in many IE languages (and elsewhere for that matter, but perhaps especially commonly in the IE family). I don’t think it really reduces any syntactical ambiguity, though, and I doubt reducing syntactical ambiguity is the driving force behind such changes. Jun 15, 2021 at 22:43
  • I agree with you. Though, in the context of my pasted extract, a language change in Russian is discussed where the nominal part of a predicate was originally marked by the nominative grammatical case (just like the subject; and thus yielding syntactical ambiguity), and shifted (at least in some lexical classes) to instrumental case. It is hypothesized that this shift was partly motivated by this "avoiding of ambiguity", as that was required in certain contexts (such as legal documents). I'm unsure whether this is related to that "general tendency", and from what source(s) I can learn more. Jun 16, 2021 at 0:57
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Do you, by any chance, have a source for me which describes this well-known phenomenon? I would be interested to read a bit more about it in general terms. Jun 16, 2021 at 13:23
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    Not as such, no. I’ve learnt about the various ways in which individual branches and languages have lost markers of these types (very commonly just through loss of final syllables), but it’s never really been a topic on its own, cross-linguistically, to me. Jun 16, 2021 at 13:25
  • That makes sense. I understand. Thank you anyway! Jun 16, 2021 at 15:05


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