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Does linguistic explanation presuppose linguistic description?

Haspelmath, Martin

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<oai_dc:dc xmlns:dc="" xmlns:oai_dc="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="">
  <dc:creator>Haspelmath, Martin</dc:creator>
  <dc:description>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 “correct”, i.e. cognitively realistic, description. Thus, there are two ways in which linguistic explanation does not presuppose linguistic description.

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.

I distinguish sharply between “phenomenological description” (which makes no claims about mental reality) and “cognitively realistic descrip- tion”, and I show that for functional explanation, phenomenological description is sufficient.</dc:description>
  <dc:source>Studies in Language 28(3) 554-579</dc:source>
  <dc:subject>language universals, linguistic typology, Universal Grammar, functional explanation</dc:subject>
  <dc:title>Does linguistic explanation presuppose linguistic description?</dc:title>
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