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

Martin Haspelmath

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  <identifier identifierType="DOI">10.5281/zenodo.2583804</identifier>
      <creatorName>Martin Haspelmath</creatorName>
      <affiliation>MPI-SHH Jena &amp; Leipzig University</affiliation>
    <title>Can cross-linguistic regularities be explained by constraints on change?</title>
    <date dateType="Issued">2019-03-05</date>
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    <rights rightsURI="">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International</rights>
    <rights rightsURI="info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess">Open Access</rights>
    <description descriptionType="Abstract">&lt;p&gt;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.&lt;/p&gt;</description>
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