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Linguistic Universals and Language Change$
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Jeff Good

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298495

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298495.001.0001

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Universals and Diachrony: Some Observations

Universals and Diachrony: Some Observations

(p.287) 12 Universals and Diachrony: Some Observations
Linguistic Universals and Language Change

Johanna Nichols

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the preceding chapters in this volume. It says that although each one makes an original claim, none of them is sufficiently concerned with replicability and falsifiability to enable linguists to make one confident that the claims are valid generalizations about language or grammar. Falsifiable claims and rigorous, replicable, and sizable cross-linguistic surveys of relevant phenomena and their origins are needed before we can make confident pronouncements on the relationship between language universals and language change. This means that progress in this field requires thorough description and documentation of all languages; full comparative-historical description and reconstruction, with explicit accounts of changes, for very many languages and families; and a robust framework-neutral terminology and theoretical apparatus.

Keywords:   language change, universals, linguistics, replicability, falsifiability

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