Description - Possible and Probable Languages by Frederick J. Newmeyer
In this important and pioneering book Frederick Newmeyer takes on the question of language variety. He considers why some language types are impossible and why some grammatical features are more common than others. The task of trying to explain typological variation among languages has been mainly undertaken by functionally-oriented linguists. Generative grammarians entering the field of typology in the 1980s put forward the idea that cross-linguistic differences could be explained by linguistic parameters within Universal Grammar, whose operation might vary from language to language. Unfortunately, this way of looking at variation turned out to be much less successful than had been hoped for. Professor Newmeyer's alternative to parameters combines leading ideas from functionalist and formalist approaches which in the past have been considered incompatible. He throws fresh light on language typology and variation, and provides new insights into the principles of Universal Grammar. The book is written in a clear, readable style and will be readily understood by anyone with a couple of years' study of linguistics.
It will interest a wide range of scholars and students of language, including typologists, historical linguists, and theorists of every shade.
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(233mm x 157mm x 18mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Author Biography - Frederick J. Newmeyer
Frederick J. Newmeyer is Howard and Frances Nostrand Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington in Seattle where he has taught since 1969. He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Linguistic Society of America from 1989 to 1993 and its President in 2002. He specializes in syntax and the history of linguistics and in his current research program seeks to synthesize the results of formal and functional linguistics. He is the author of the books English Aspectual Verbs (1975), Linguistic Theory in America (1980), Grammatical Theory: Its Limits and its Possibilities (1983), The Politics of Linguistics (1986), Generative Linguistics: Historical Perspective (1996), and Language Form and Language Function (1998). He was also editor of the four-volume compilation Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey (1988).