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ZENODO; Theoretical Linguistics
Article . 2021 . Peer-reviewed
License: CC BY
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General linguistics must be based on universals (or non-conventional aspects of language)

Authors: Haspelmath, Martin;

General linguistics must be based on universals (or non-conventional aspects of language)

Abstract

AbstractThis paper highlights the importance of the distinction between general linguistics (the study of Human Language) and particular linguistics (the study of individual languages), which is often neglected. The term “theoretical linguistics” is often used as if it entailed general claims. But I note that (unless one studies non-conventional aspects of language, e.g. reaction times in psycholinguistics) one must study universals if one wants to make general claims. These universals can be of the Greenbergian type, based on grammatical descriptions of the speakers’ social conventions, or they can be based on the natural-kinds programme, where linguists try to describe mental grammars as made up of universal building blocks of an innate grammar blueprint. The natural-kinds programme is incompatible with Chomsky’s claims about Darwin’s Problem, but it is indispensable for a general linguistics in the generative tradition. The Greenbergian programme, by contrast, can make use of framework-free descriptions because its comparisons are based on independently defined universal yardsticks.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Generative linguistics Theoretical linguistics Sociology Problem of universals Linguistics Linguistic universal Linguistic typology

Keywords

Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics

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  • citations
    This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    3
    popularity
    This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
    Top 10%
    influence
    This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
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    impulse
    This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
3
Top 10%
Average
Average
bronze