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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article defines the problem of cross-linguistic identification. The problem can be stated in the following question: how can one be sure that the data which is selected from the languages in the sample form a coherent body of facts? Although the problem of cross-linguistic identification is not often addressed explicitly in typological studies, it is clear that a solution to it is vital to any typological enquiry. Examples of mixed definitions are presented in which the external criteria have ‘wider’ scope and the formal criteria have ‘narrower’ scope; that is, the formal criteria are employed to create a subset of the phenomena which the external criteria permit. Most typologists working today seem to agree that mixed functional–formal domain definitions constitute the best strategy for ensuring cross-linguistic comparability.

Keywords: cross-linguistic identification, typological enquiry, functional–formal domain, languages

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