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Language Universals - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Language Universals

Morten H. Christiansen, Christopher Collins, and Shimon Edelman


Languages differ from one another in bewildering and seemingly arbitrary ways. For example, in English, the verb precedes the direct object (understand the proof), but in Japanese, the direct object comes first. In some languages, such as Mohawk, it is not even possible to establish a basic word order. Nonetheless, languages do share certain regularities in how they are structured and used. The exact nature and extent of these “language universals” has been the focus of much research and is one of the central explanatory goals in the language sciences. During the past fifty years, there has be ... More

Keywords: direct object, Mohawk, human capacity for language, universal properties, Japanese, English, verb

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780195305432
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305432.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Morten H. Christiansen, editor
Cornell University
Author Webpage

Christopher Collins, editor
Cornell University

Shimon Edelman, editor
Cornell University

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