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Book Information


Title: Catching Language
Subtitle: The Standing Challenge of Grammar Writing
Edited By: Felix K. Ameka
Alan Dench
Nicholas Evans
Series Title: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 167

Descriptive grammars are our main vehicle for documenting and analysing the
linguistic structure of the world's 6,000 languages. They bring together,
in one place, a coherent treatment of how the whole language works, and
therefore form the primary source of information on a given language,
consulted by a wide range of users: areal specialists, typologists,
theoreticians of any part of language (syntax, morphology, phonology,
historical linguistics etc.), and members of the speech communities
concerned. The writing of a descriptive grammar is a major intellectual
challenge, that calls on the grammarian to balance a respect for the
language's distinctive genius with an awareness of how other languages
work, to combine rigour with readability, to depict structural regularities
while respecting a corpus of real material, and to represent something of
the native speaker's competence while recognising the variation inherent in
any speech community.

Despite a recent surge of awareness of the need to document little-known
languages, there is no book that focusses on the manifold issues that face
the author of a descriptive grammar. This volume brings together
contributors who approach the problem from a range of angles. Most have
written descriptive grammars themselves, but others represent different
types of readers. Among the topics they address are: overall issues of
grammar design, the complementary roles of outsider and native speaker
grammarians, the balance between grammar and lexicon, cross-linguistic
comparability, the role of explanation in grammatical description, the
interplay of theory and a range of fieldwork methods in language
description, the challenges of describing languages in their cultural and
historical context, and the tensions between linguistic particularity,
established practice of particular schools of linguistic description and
the need for a universally commensurable analytic framework.

This book will renew the field of grammaticography, addressing a multiple
readership of descriptive linguists, typologists, and formal linguists, by
bringing together a range of distinguished practitioners from around the
world to address these questions.

ISBN 3-11-018603-9
ISBN-13: 978-3-11-018603-1

Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 3110186039
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 664
Prices: Europe EURO 98.00
U.S. $ 132.30