By Frederick J. Newmeyer

ISBN-10: 0199274339

ISBN-13: 9780199274338

ISBN-10: 0199274347

ISBN-13: 9780199274345

During this very important and pioneering ebook Frederick Newmeyer seeks to give an explanation for the diversity of languages. He combines the top principles of the functionalist and formalist methods to linguistic typology, advocating ideas of common Grammar to provide an explanation for why a few language varieties are very unlikely, and sensible rules to provide an explanation for why a few grammatical positive factors are extra universal than others.

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Extra info for Possible and Probable Languages: A Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology

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Y [all- ine bet] bet be me house house [all- ine ] bet deletion of identical NP e Possible and Probable Languages e e c. y d. y [ ine ] bet copula deletion þ ine bet y - attachment e 32 If copula deletion does not apply, y - attachment affixes y - to the verb immediately to its right, thereby deriving the house that I had. Now, Bach argued, if we had assumed that Amharic were SOV instead of VSO, two rules of y - attachment would be needed, one for possessives, and one attaching it to verbs at the end of the clause, thereby missing the generalization that y - is attached to the following lexical element, no matter what it might be.

The earliest work for the most part tended to be in-depth studies of some particular construction or set of constructions in one particular language, with the goal of motivating or providing additional support for some abstract grammatical principle. That is, there was little comparative work devoted to explicating the possible range of grammatical variation across languages. The reason for the relative absence of such studies is not hard to understand. The program of generative grammar prioritizes the uncovering of highly abstract generalizations about grammar.

B. For each position on the AH, there are possible languages which can relativize that position with a primary strategy, but cannot relativize any lower position with that strategy. A strategy is considered primary if it is the one used to form relative clauses on subjects for that language. The sets of positions in (20) are those that AH predicts to be relativizable (and are illustrated with an actual language manifesting them taken from Keenan and Comrie’s sample), but not those sets of positions in (21): (20) a.

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Possible and Probable Languages: A Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology by Frederick J. Newmeyer


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