Language Change, Variation, and Universals (Hardcover)

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This volume explores how human languages become what they are, why they differ from one another in certain ways but not in others, and why they change in the ways that they do. Given that language is a universal creation of the human mind, the puzzle is why there are different languages at
all: why do we not all speak the same language? Moreover, while there is considerable variation, in some ways grammars do show consistent patterns: why are languages similar in those respects, and why are those particular patterns preferred?

Peter Culicover proposes that the solution to these puzzles is a constructional one. Grammars consist of constructions that carry out the function of expressing universal conceptual structure. While there are in principle many different ways of accomplishing this task, languages are under press to
reduce constructional complexity. The result is that there is constructional change in the direction of less complexity, and grammatical patterns emerge that more efficiently reflect conceptual universals. The volume is divided into three parts: the first establishes the theoretical foundations; the
second explores variation in argument structure, grammatical functions, and A-bar constructions, drawing on data from a variety of languages including English and Plains Cree; and the third examines constructional change, focusing primarily on Germanic. The study ends with observations and
speculations on parameter theory, analogy, the origins of typological patterns, and Greenbergian 'universals'.

About the Author

Peter W. Culicover, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University Peter W. Culicover is currently Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the Ohio State University. He previously held positions at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Arizona, where he was Head of the Department of Linguistics. His awards include the DistinguishedFulbright Chair in Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Venice and the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His research is concerned primarily with understanding and explaining the syntactic structure of human languages, and he has explored such topics aslanguage learnability, computational modeling of language acquisition and language change, the grammar of focus, grammatical constructions, the grammar of contemporary English and the architecture of grammar. His many publications include the OUP volumes Simpler Syntax (with Ray Jackendoff, 2005), Natural Language Syntax (2009), Grammar and Complexity (2013), and Explaining Syntax (2013).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780198865391
ISBN-10: 0198865392
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: October 26th, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English