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Possible and Probable LanguagesA Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology$
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Frederick J. Newmeyer

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274338

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274338.001.0001

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On the Possible and the Probable in Language

On the Possible and the Probable in Language

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 On the Possible and the Probable in Language
Source:
Possible and Probable Languages
Author(s):

Frederick J. Newmeyer (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274338.003.0001

This chapter sets the stage for the succeeding chapters by addressing a foundational cluster of questions inherent to the practice of linguistic typology: What does it mean to say that some grammatical feature is possible or impossible, or probable or improbable? Section 1.2 tries to pinpoint how one might identify a ‘possible human language’ and Section 1.3 raises some background issues relevant to the determination of why some language types appear to be more probable than others. Section 1.4 focuses on the major differences between formalists and functionalists with respect to the explanation of typological generalizations, using an extended published debate between Peter Coopmans and Bernard Comrie as a point of reference.

Keywords:   formalists, funcationalists, Peter Copmans, Bernard Comrie, Universal Grammar

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