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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 Constrain Change; Change Results in Typological Generalizations

Universals Constrain Change; Change Results in Typological Generalizations

(p.23) 2 Universals Constrain Change; Change Results in Typological Generalizations
Linguistic Universals and Language Change

Paul Kiparsky

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an absolute explanation for universal patterns. The following criteria should converge to identify true universals: (1) universals have no exceptions (for what does not arise by change cannot be subverted by it either). That is, they are violable only in virtue of more highly ranked universal constraints. (2) Universals are process-independent. (3) Universals can be manifested in ‘emergence of the unmarked’ effects. (4) Universals constitute pathways for analogical change. (5) Universals are embedded in grammars as constraints and can interact with other grammatical constraints. Choosing as testing grounds Binding Theory and split ergativity in morphosyntax, and voicing neutralization and sonority in phonology, it is argued that criteria do converge rather cleanly in each case.

Keywords:   universals, synchrony, diachrony, reflexives, split ergative case marking, coda neutralization

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