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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article starts by defining the object of linguistic typology as cross-linguistic variation and language diversity. It contrasts linguistic typology with another influential approach to cross-linguistic variation: generative grammar. This grammar is a deductive approach, aiming at a formal derivation of the observed data from a general model that precedes any empirical research. The dual nature of linguistic signs and the problems this creates for cross-linguistic comparison are also explored. The article introduces the various ways of reducing linguistic diversity to a system, and describes typological approaches to language change and the issue of language evolution. The typological sampling and some problems of large-sample typology are reported together with two relatively recent methodological alternatives. An overview of the range of data typologists may choose from is reported. It is suggested that the fundamental methods and principles of linguistic typology are as yet unsettled.

Keywords: linguistic typology, language diversity, cross-linguistic variation, generative grammar, typological sampling, language change, language evolution

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