Possible and Probable Languages: A Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology

Paperback | October 18, 2006

byFrederick J. Newmeyer

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In this important and pioneering book Frederick Newmeyer takes on the question of language variety. He considers why some language types are impossible and why some grammatical features are more common than others. The task of trying to explain typological variation among languages has beenmainly undertaken by functionally-oriented linguists. Generative grammarians entering the field of typology in the 1980s put forward the idea that cross-linguistic differences could be explained by linguistic parameters within Universal Grammar, whose operation might vary from language to language.Unfortunately, this way of looking at variation turned out to be much less successful than had been hoped for. Professor Newmeyer's alternative to parameters combines leading ideas from functionalist and formalist approaches which in the past have been considered incompatible. He throws fresh lighton language typology and variation, and provides new insights into the principles of Universal Grammar. The book is written in a clear, readable style and will be readily understood by anyone with a couple of years' study of linguistics. It will interest a wide range of scholars and students of language, including typologists, historical linguists, and theorists of every shade.

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In this important and pioneering book Frederick Newmeyer takes on the question of language variety. He considers why some language types are impossible and why some grammatical features are more common than others. The task of trying to explain typological variation among languages has beenmainly undertaken by functionally-oriented lin...

Frederick J. Newmeyer is Howard and Frances Nostrand Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington in Seattle where he has taught since 1969. He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Linguistic Society of America from 1989 to 1993 and its President in 2002. He specializes in syntax and the history of linguistics and in his current...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.72 inPublished:October 18, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199274347

ISBN - 13:9780199274345

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Table of Contents

1. On the Possible and the Probable in Language2. Parameterized Principles3. Parameters, Performance, and the Explanationof Typological Generalizations4. In Defense of the Saussurean View of Grammar5. The Locus of Functional ExplanationAfterwordReferencesAuthor IndexSubject Index

Editorial Reviews

`A remarkably readable and highly thought-provoking work which will undoubtedly help scholars to crystallize their own views with respect to current debates in theoretical linguistics and contribute to a wider understanding of these debates.'Anna Siewierska