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Journal article Open Access

Does linguistic explanation presuppose linguistic description?

Haspelmath, Martin

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  "DOI": "10.1075/sl.28.3.06has", 
  "container_title": "Studies in Language", 
  "title": "Does linguistic explanation presuppose linguistic description?", 
  "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
  "abstract": "<p>I argue that the following two assumptions are incorrect: (i) The properties of the innate Universal Grammar can be discovered by comparing language systems, and (ii) functional explanation of language structure presupposes a &ldquo;correct&rdquo;, i.e. cognitively realistic, description. Thus, there are two ways in which linguistic explanation does not presuppose linguistic description.</p>\n\n<p>The generative program of building cross-linguistic generalizations into the hypothesized Universal Grammar cannot succeed because the actually observed generalizations are typically one-way implications or implicational scales, and because they typically have exceptions. The cross-linguistic generalizations are much more plausibly due to functional factors.</p>\n\n<p>I distinguish sharply between &ldquo;phenomenological description&rdquo; (which makes no claims about mental reality) and &ldquo;cognitively realistic descrip- tion&rdquo;, and I show that for functional explanation, phenomenological description is sufficient.</p>", 
  "author": [
      "family": "Haspelmath, Martin"
  "page": "554-579", 
  "volume": "28", 
  "type": "article-journal", 
  "issue": "3", 
  "id": "831412"
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