Journal article Open Access

Are there principles of grammatical change (A review article of David Lightfoot's book "The development of language")

Haspelmath, Martin

This is a highly critical review of David Lightfoots 1999 book "The development of language", which argues that there are no principles of grammatical change, so that “historicist” or deterministic approaches to diachronic change are misguided. Instead, Lightfoot argues that language change can only be understood by taking the perspective of the “growth” (i.e. acquisition) of an individual’s biological grammar, which may end up with a different parameter setting from the parent’s generation when the trigger experience changes. This review is very critical of most aspects of Lightfoot's theory: his strange notions of “language” and “social grammar”, his failure to say anything meaningful about “nongrammatical changes” (i.e. apparently the great majority of changes), his unconstrained theoretical innovation of “diglossia”, his complete misunderstanding of the neogrammarian revolution, and his irresponsible ignoring of much of contemporary work on language change.

Files (5.0 MB)
Name Size
Haspelmath1999.pdf
md5:4d289abb0d47d59fcceec946ec8daeb8
5.0 MB Download
204
107
views
downloads
All versions This version
Views 204205
Downloads 107108
Data volume 533.5 MB538.5 MB
Unique views 194195
Unique downloads 9293

Share

Cite as