DiGS and its History

DiGS is widely recognized as the premier international forum for the presentation of research combining the historical and the formal investigation of syntactic phenomena from a generative perspective.

The first DiGS was held in York in 1990, so we are returning to our roots for this important anniversary (… antiquam exquirite matrem). In the past, the conference venue has alternated between Europe and North America, with Brazil the first venture into South America in 2009, and South Africa the first venture beyond the three continents in 2017 (see an overview of the history of DiGS).

The goal of DiGS research is to use diachrony to investigate the properties of the syntax of natural language, and to use formal syntactic theory to understand aspects of language relatedness and language change. Hence, DiGS conferences have supported pioneering approaches aiming to establish the proper relationship between the two most basic characteristics of natural language: 1) languages are constrained by the properties of the biological faculty of language; 2) languages and dialects, with the diversity that we observe among them, are the products of historical processes.