Cross-Linguistic Variation and Efficiency

Paperback | March 27, 2014

byJohn A. Hawkins

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In this book John A. Hawkins argues that major patterns of variation across languages are structured by general principles of efficiency in language use and communication. Evidence for these comes from languages permitting structural options from which selections are made in performance, e.g.between competing word orders and between relative clauses with a resumptive pronoun versus a gap. The preferences and patterns of performance within languages are reflected, he shows, in the fixed conventions and variation patterns across grammars, leading to a "Performance-Grammar CorrespondenceHypothesis". Hawkins extends and updates the general theory that he laid out in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars (OUP 2004): new areas of grammar and performance are discussed, new research findings are incorporated that test his earlier predictions, and new advances in the contributing fields of languageprocessing, linguistic theory, historical linguistics, and typology are addressed. This efficiency approach to variation has far-reaching theoretical consequences relevant to many current issues in the language sciences. These include the notion of ease of processing and how to measure it, the roleof processing in language change, the nature of language universals and their explanation, the theory of complexity, the relative strength of competing and cooperating principles, and the proper definition of fundamental grammatical notions such as "dependency". The book also offers a new typologyof VO and OV languages and their correlating properties seen from this perspective, and a new typology of the noun phrase and of argument structure.

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In this book John A. Hawkins argues that major patterns of variation across languages are structured by general principles of efficiency in language use and communication. Evidence for these comes from languages permitting structural options from which selections are made in performance, e.g.between competing word orders and between re...

John A. Hawkins is a professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Davis, and the Emeritus Professor of English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. He has also held previous positions at the University of Southern California and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, and visiting appointments a...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.01 inPublished:March 27, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199665001

ISBN - 13:9780199665006

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Table of Contents

1. Language Variation and the Performance-Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis2. Three General Efficiency Principles3. Some Current Issues in Language Processing and the Performance-Grammar Relationship4. The Conventionalization of Processing Efficiency5. Word Order Patterns: Head Ordering and (Dis)harmony6. The Typology of Noun Phrase Structure7. Ten Differences between VO and OV Languages8. Asymmetries between Arguments of the Verb9. Multiple Factors in Performance and Grammars and their Interaction10. Conclusions

Editorial Reviews

"Hawkins argues that grammars are profoundly affected by the way humans process language. He develops a simple but elegant theory of performance and grammar by drawing on concepts and data from generative grammar, linguistic typology, experimental psycholinguistics and historical linguistics.In so doing, he also makes a laudable attempt to bridge the schism between the two research traditions in linguistics, the formal and the functional. Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars is a major contribution with far-reaching consequences and implications for many of the fundamental issues inlinguistic theory. This is a tremendous piece of scholarship that no linguist can afford to neglect." --Jae Jung Song, University of Otago, New Zealand