Year of publication
- Der Hang zur Exzentrik: Annäherungen an das kognitive Modell der Relativkonstruktion (1991)
- Vor gut vierzig Jahren hat Milewski (1950) das Werkzeug der Syntaxtypologie um das Begriffspaar "kon- und exzentrische Struktur" vermehrt. Dieses Klassifikationsmittel wurde später von Nichols (1984,1986) erneuert und terminologisch mit der Unterscheidung von head- und dependent-marking erfasst. Dabei hat die Autorin vorgeschlagen, diese Unterscheidung auch für die Typologie der Relativkonstruktion fruchtbar zu machen.
- What is typology? - a short note (2001)
- It is often assumed that the goal of typology is to define the notion ‘possible human language’. This view, which I call the Universalist Typology view is shared, for example, by virtually all contributors to Bynon & Shibatani’s 1995 volume Approaches to Language Typology, and by Moravscik in her review of this volume in Linguistic Typology 1 (p.105). In the following I claim that this assumption is fundamentally mistaken. To clarify the theoretical status of what is meant by ‘possible human language’, I argue here for a distinction between typological theory (theoretical typology) and grammatical theory (theoretical syntax and theoretical morphology) as distinct subdisciplines of linguistics.
- Principles of event framing : genetic stability in grammar and discourse (1999)
- Ever since Wilhelm von Humboldt’s (1836) pioneering study of Nahuatl, linguists have recurrently recognized that languages differ fundamentally in the syntactic weight they attribute to noun-phrases as the arguments of a verb. Currently, the most prominent attempts to turn this intuition into a precise hypothesis revolve around the notion of ‘configurationality’.
- Grammatical relations, agreement, and genetic stability (1999)
- Languages vary in whether or not primary grammatical relations (PGRs) are sensitive to information from clause-level case or phrase structures. This variation correlates with a difference between verb agreement systems based on feature unification and systems based on feature composition. The choice between different PGR and agreement principles is found to be highly stable genetically and to characterize Indo-European as systematically different from Sino-Tibetan. Although the choice is partially similar to the Configurationality Parameter, it is shown that Indo-European languages of South Asia are nonconfigurational due to areal pressure but follow their European relatives in PGR and agreement principles.
- Rhythm and feet in Belhare morphology (1998)
- In Belhare (Sino-Tibetan, Nepal), consonant prothesis at morpheme boundaries and deletion of stem "augments" is found if either metrical or morphological parsing would violate the bimoraic trochee pattern that underlies the stress system of the language. This finding corroborates Dresher & Lahiri’s (1991) "Principle of Metrical Coherence" and provides new evidence for the cross-linguistic applicability of Crowhurst’s (1994) "Tautomorphemic Foot" constraint. The data also support a view of the Prosodic Hierarchy as weakly layered, allowing consonants to be directly dominated by the foot or word node if they are prothetic and do not therefore need feature licensing within the syllable canon.
- Absolute and statistical universals (2007)
- Language universals are statements that are true of all languages, for example: “all languages have stop consonants”. But beneath this simple definition lurks deep ambiguity, and this triggers misunderstanding in both interdisciplinary discourse and within linguistics itself. A core dimension of the ambiguity is captured by the opposition “absolute vs. statistical universal”, although the literature uses these terms in varied ways. Many textbooks draw the boundary between absolute and statistical according to whether a sample of languages contains exceptions to a universal. But the notion of an exception-free sample is not very revealing even if the sample contained all known languages: there is always a chance that an as yet undescribed language, or an unknown language from the past or future, will provide an exception.
- On the scope of the referential hierarchy in the typology of grammatical relations (2008)
- In the late seventies, Bernard Comrie was one of the first linguists to explore the effects of the referential hierarchy (RH) on the distribution of grammatical relations (GRs). The referential hierarchy is also known in the literature as the animacy, empathy or indexibability hierarchy and ranks speech act participants (i.e. first and second person) above third persons, animates above inanimates, or more topical referents above less topical referents. Depending on the language, the hierarchy is sometimes extended by analogy to rankings of possessors above possessees, singulars above plurals, or other notions. In his 1981 textbook, Comrie analyzed RH effects as explaining (a) differential case (or adposition) marking of transitive subject ("A") noun phrases in low RH positions (e.g. inanimate or third person) and of object ("P") noun phrases in high RH positions (e.g. animate or first or second person), and (b) hierarchical verb agreement coupled with a direct vs. inverse distinction, as in Algonquian (Comrie 1981: Chapter 6).
- Space, territory, and a stupa in Eastern Nepal: exploring Himalayan themes and traces of Bon (2000)
- Recent research has adduced growing evidence for a distinct stratum of cultural practices that underlies various "tribal" traditions in the Himalayan region and that also seems to be characteristic of various local versions of the Bon tradition. Bon literature is not uncommonly embedded in cultural patterns that are more specifically Himalayan than belonging to the greater South Asian heritage. Two aspects of this that have received attention in Ramble's (1997) study of a Bon guide to the sacred Kong-po mountain (rKong-po bon- ri) are the symbolism of wild boar hunting involved in marriage rituals and poison cults with their corresponding beliefs about poisoning. Another pattern of cultoral organization that may help better understand the Bon tradition against its Himalayan background is spatial conceptualization.
- A general method for the statistical evaluation of typological distributions (2008)
- The distribution of linguistic structures in the world is the joint product of universal principles, inheritance from ancestor languages, language contact, social structures, and random fluctuation. This paper proposes a method for evaluating the relative significance of each factor — and in particular, of universal principles — via regression modeling: statistical evidence for universal principles is found if the odds for families to have skewed responses (e.g. all or most members have postnominal relative clauses) as opposed to having an opposite response skewing or no skewing at all, is significantly higher for some condition (e.g. VO order) than for another condition, independently of other factors.