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Query Details

Query Subject:   Grammatical Complexity
Author:   Kaius Sinnemaki
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Morphology

Query:   Dear colleagues,

I'm a graduate student at the University of Helsinki working on structural
complexity and system economy of languages. It has long been claimed that
structurally languages have equally ''rich'' / ''complicated'' /
''complex'' / ''economical'' grammars. My aim is to find results that would
either verify or falsify the claim.

For this purpose, I'm looking for correlations (or their absence) between
the complexities of morphology, syntax and phonology. Some relevant
correlations have been attested (e.g. Zipf 1968) that seem to support the
claim. Yet, as far as I know, there's little relevant work available (e.g.
Dahl 2004, McWhorter 2001 and the Commentary in Linguistic Typology
2001/5:2-3, Perkins 1992, Plank 1986).

I would very much appreciate any help in finding the relevant literature
(theoretical or empirical) and any results already available that have
addresses this issue. You can respond directly to me
( and I'll post a summary and list of references,
if there’s general interest.

Thanks in advance,

Kaius Sinnemäki
Graduate student
Department of General Linguistics
University of Helsinki

Dahl, Östen 2004. The Growth and Maintenance of Linguistic Complexity.
Amsterdam: Benjamins.

McWhorter, John H. 2001. The World's Simplest Grammars are Creole Grammars.
Linguistic Typology 5 (2-3): 125-156.

Plank, Frans 1986. Paradigm Size, Morphological Typology, and Universal
Economy. Folia Linguistica 20: 29-48.

Perkins, Revere D. 1992. Deixis, Grammar, and Culture. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Zipf, George Kingsley 1968. The psycho-biology of language: an introduction
to dynamic philology. Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press.
LL Issue: 15.3317
Date posted: 27-Nov-2004


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