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Can cross-linguistic regularities be explained by constraints on change?

Martin Haspelmath

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  "publisher": "Language Science Press", 
  "DOI": "10.5281/zenodo.2583804", 
  "ISBN": "978-3-96110-147-4", 
  "container_title": "Explanation in typology", 
  "language": "eng", 
  "title": "Can cross-linguistic regularities be explained by constraints on change?", 
  "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
  "abstract": "<p>This paper addresses a recent trend in the study of language variation and universals, namely to attribute cross-linguistic patterns to diachrony, rather than to other causal factors. This is an interesting suggestion, and I try to make the basic concepts clearer, by distinguishing clearly between language-particular regularities, universal tendencies, and mere recurrent patterns, as well as three kinds of causal factors (preferences, constraints, restrictions). I make four claims: (i) Explanations may involve diachrony in different ways; (ii) for causal explanations of universal tendencies, one needs to invoke mutational constraints (change constraints); (iii) in addition to mutational constraints, we need functional-adaptive constraints as well, as is clear from cases of multi-convergence; and (iv) successful functional-adaptive explanations do not depend on understanding the precise pathways of change.</p>", 
  "author": [
      "family": "Martin Haspelmath"
  "page": "1-23", 
  "publisher_place": "Berlin", 
  "type": "chapter", 
  "id": "2583804"
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