By Luraghi S., Parodi C. (eds.)
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Extra resources for The Bloomsbury companion to syntax
But languages also diﬀer in much less obvious ways, which linguists only detect in obscure sentences of significant complexity. indd 27 11/20/2012 9:26:11 AM The Bloomsbury Companion to Syntax diﬀerent in English, Mohawk, and Sakha. But the sentence types are complex, so children would not necessarily expect to hear them and they should not infer from their not hearing them that such sentences are impossible. Nevertheless, children do learn these diﬀerences because adults know them. We conclude that they must learn diﬀerences like these indirectly: they must be consequences that can be inferred from interactions of universal-innate knowledge and some more obvious feature(s) of the language that a child can reliably learn.
A cross-linguistically valid approach is to compare words that denote property concepts in and across languages, and to compare their distribution in constructions used for predication and modification (a ribution) in and across languages (Cro 2001: chapter 2). The distributional pa erns provide a basis for fomulating hypotheses about the occurrence of property concept words in predicate and a ributive constructions. There are fundamental properties of linguistic form that are not features of language-specific grammatical constructions, and may be used for crosslinguistic comparison.
Again, the consequence is that presence/absence of a category in a language is subjective, and not subject to empirical (dis)confirmation. For example, a linguist who wants to hypothesize that all languages have a Noun–Verb distinction selects the constructions in Salish that support that distinction, and not the constructions that do not support the distinction. An example of Cross-linguistic Methodological Opportunism is the argumentations for Baker’s (2003) hypothesis of the category Pred. Pred is a theoryspecific category hypothesized by Baker to exist in all languages, at least as a theoretical construct if not as an overt morpheme; for example, Baker argues that the English copula be is not an instance of Pred.
The Bloomsbury companion to syntax by Luraghi S., Parodi C. (eds.)