Arbeiten des Kölner Universalien-Projekts : akup
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität zu Köln. Hrsg. der Reihe: H. Seiler
Year of publication
- English (27) (remove)
- Remarks on deixis (1992)
- The prevailing conception of deixis is oriented to the idea of 'concrete' physical and perceptual characteristics of the situation of speech. Signs standardly adduced as typical deictics are I, you, here, now, this, that. I and you are defined as meaning "the person producing the utterance in question" and "the person spoken to", here and now as meaning "where the speaker is at utterance time" and "at the moment the utterance is made" (also, "at the place/time of the speech exchange"); similarly, the meanings of this and that are as a rule defined via proximity to speaker's physical location. The elements used in such definitions form the conceptual framework of most of the general characterisations of deixis in the literature. [...] There is much in the literature, of course, that goes far beyond this framework . A great variety of elements, mostly with very abstract meanings, have been found to share deictic characteristics although they do not fit into the personnel-place-time-of-utterance schema. The adequacy of that schema is also called into question by many observations to the effect that the use of such standard deictics as here, now, this, that cannot really be accounted for on its basis, and by the far-reaching possibilities of orienting deictics to reference points in situations other than the situation of speech, to 'deictic centers' other than the speaker. [...] Analyses along the lines of the standard conception regularly acknowledge the existence of deviations from the assumed basic meanings. One traditional solution attributes them to speaker's "subjectivity", or to differences between "physical" and "psychological" space or time; in a similar vein, metaphorical extensions may be said to be at play, or a distinction between prototypical and non-prototypical meanings invoked. Quite apart from the question of the relative merits of these explanatory principles, which I do not wish to discuss here, the problem with all such accounts is that the definitions of the assumed basic meanings themselves are founded on axiom rather than analysis of situated use. The logical alternative, of course, is to set out for more abstract and comprehensive meaning definitions from the start. In fact, a number of recent, discourse-oriented, treatments of the demonstratives proceed this way; they view those elements as processing instructions rather than signs with inherently spatial denotation (Isard 1975, Hawkins 1978, Kirsner 1979, Linde 1979 , Ehlich 1982.)
- The dimension of oppositeness : universal and typological aspects (1991)
- Oppositeness, i.e. the relation between opposites or contraries or contradictories, has a fundamental role in human cognition. In the various domains of intellectual and psychological activity we find ordering schemas that are based, in one way or another, on the cognitive figure of oppositeness. It is therefore not surprising that the figure and its corresponding ordering schemas show their reflexes in the languages of the world. [...] We shall be dealing with oppositeness in the sense that a linguistically untrained native speaker, when asked what would be the opposite of 'long' can come up with some such answer as 'short', and likewise intuitively grasp the relation between 'man' and 'woman', 'corne' and 'go', 'up' and 'down', etc. Thinking that much of the vocabulary of a language is organized in such opposite pairs we must recognize that this is an important faculty, and we are curious to know how this is done, what are the underlying conceptual-cognitive structures and processes, and how they are encoded in the languages of the world. We shall leave out of consideration such oppositions as singular vs. plural. present vs. past, voiced vs. unvoiced, oppositions that the linguist states by means of a metalanguage which is itself derived from a concept of oppositeness as manifested by the examples which I gave earlier. Our approach will connect with earlier versions of the UNITYP framework. However, as a novel feature, and, hopefully, as an improvement, we shall apply some sort of a division of labor. We shall first try to reconstruct the conceptual-cognitive content of oppositeness and to keep it separate from the discussion of its reflexes in the individual languages. We shall find that a dimensional ordering of content in PARAMETERS and a continuum of TECHNIQUES is possible already on the conceptual-cognitive level. In order to keep it distinct from the level of linguistic encoding we shall use a separate terminology, graphically marked by capital 1etters.
- Language universals and typology in the UNITYP framework (1990)
- Why should we engage in language universals research and language typology? What do we want to explain? It is a fact that, although languages differ significantly and considerably. indeed, no one would deny, that they have something in common; how else could they be labelled 'language'? - There is obviously unity among them, no matter how vaguely felt and for what reasons: Scientific, practical, moral, etc. Neither diversity per se nor unity per se is what we want to explain. There is no reason whatsoever to consider either one of them as primary, and the other as derived. What we do want to explain is "equivalence in difference" – cf. our motto – which manifests itself, among others, in the translatability from one language to another, the learnability of any language, language change – which all presuppose that speakers intuitively find their way from diversity to unity. This is a highly salient property which deserves to be brought into our consciousness. Generally then, our basic goal is to explain the way in which language-specific facts are connected with a unitarian concept of language – "die Sprache" – "le langage".
- A functional view on prototypes (1989)
- The human mind may produce prototypization within virtually any realm of cognition and behavior. A "comparative prototype-typology" might prove to be an interesting field of study – perhaps a new subfield of semiotics. This, however, would presuppose a clear view on the samenesses and differences of prototypization in these various fields. It seems realistic for the time being that the linguist first confine himself to describing prototypization within the realm of language proper. The literature on prototypes has steadily grown in the past ten years or so. I confine myself to mentioning the volume on Noun Classes and Categorization, edited by C. Craig (1986), which contains a wealth of factual information on the subject, along with some theoretical vistas. By and large, however, linguistic prototype research is still basically in a taxonomic stage - which, of course, represents the precondition for moving beyond. The procedure is largely per ostensionem, and by accumulating examples of prototypes. We still lack a comprehensive prototype theory. The following pages are intended, not to provide such, a theory, but to do the first steps in this direction. Section 2 will feature some elements of a functional theory of prototypes. They have been developed by this author within the frame of the UNITYP model of research on language universals and typology. Section 3 will bring a discussion of prototypization with regard to selected phenomena of a wide range of levels of analysis: Phonology, morphosyntax, speech acts, and the lexicon. Prototypization will finally be studied within one of the universal dimensions, that of APPREHENSION - the linguistic representation of the concepts of objects – as proposed by Seiler (1986).
- A dimensional view on numeral systems (1989)
- The Stanford Project on Language Universals began its activities in October 1967 and brought them to an end in August 1976. Its directors were Joseph H. Greenberg and Charles A. Ferguson. The Cologne Project on Language Universals and Typology [with particular reference to functional aspects], abbreviated UNITYP, had its early beginnings in 1972, but deployed its full activities from 1976 onwards and is still operating. This writer, who is the principal investigator, had the privilege of collaborating with the Stanford Project during spring of 1976. […] One of the leading Greenbergian ideas is that of implicational generalizations, has been integrated as a fundamental principle in the construction of continua and of universal dimensions as proposed by UNITYP. It is hoped that the following considerations on numeral systems will be apt to bear witness to this situation. They would be unthinkable without Greenberg’s pioneering work on "Generalizations about numeral systems" (Greenberg 1978: 249 ff., henceforth referred to as Greenberg, NS). Further work on this domain and on other comparable domains almost inevitably leads one to the view that generalizations of the Greenberg type have a functional significance and that a dimensional framework is apt to bring this to the fore. This is the view on linguistic behaviour as being purposeful, and on language as a problem- solving device. The problem consists in the linguistic representation of cognitive-conceptual ideas. The solution is represented by the corresponding linguistic structures in their diversity and the task of the linguist consists in reconstructing the program and subprograms underlying the process of problem-solving. It is claimed that the construct of continua and of universal dimensions makes these programs intelligible.
- On the sequence of the techniques on the dimension of participation (1988)
- This is a survey of the development of the model of PARTICIPATION (P'ATION) with reference to the postulated sequence of the techniques on the dimension of P'ATION. Along with a brief explanation of the techniques this article contains a discussion of the major claims with regard to the sequence of the techniques and the possibilities of subjecting the claims to empirical verification.
- Language typology in the UNITYP model : paper presented for the XIV. International Congress of Linguists, August 1987, Berlin, DDR, Plenary Session on Typology (1987)
- The aim of this contribution is to embed the question of an antinomy between "integral" vs. "partial typology", inscribed as the topic of this plenary session, into the comprehensive framework of the dimensional model of the research group on language universals and typology (UNITYP). In this introductory section I shall evoke some cardinal points in the theory of linguistic typology, as viewed "from outside", viz. on the basis of striking parallelisms with psychological typology. Section 2 will permit a brief look on the dimensional model of UNITYP. In section 3 I shall present an illustration of a typological treatment on the basis of one particular dimension. In section 4 I shall draw some conclusions with special reference to the "integral vs. partial" antinomy.
- Noun, verb, and participation (1987)
- The present article is a crosslinguistic discussion of the distinction between a word class of nouns and a word class of verbs in the UNI TYP framework of the dimension of PARTICIPATION (for a first overall sketch of PARTICIPATION see Seiler 1984). According to this framework the noun/verb-distinction (henceforth N/V-D) must be regarded as a gradable, continuous phenomenon ranging from the stage of a clear-cut distinction with no overlap to almost a non-distinction. Although there is no question that most, if not all, languages do differentiate between nouns and verbs, it is also quite apparent that the languages do so to a different degree and by different means, and that it only makes sense to use the terms "noun" and "verb" in different languages when one actually has a common functional denominator in mind (see below). After a general introduction to the notion of a noun/verb-continuum (chapter 1) the reader will be presented with a survey of languages as diverse as German. English, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, Salish. and Tongan (see chapter 2) in support of the continuum hypothesis. In chapter 3 the facts are coordinated in an overall pattern of regularities underlying the Increase or decrease of categorical restrictions between the respective word classes. Also, chapter 3 raises the issue to what degree a N/V-D can be considered a matter of certain lexemes or a matter of the morphosyntactic environment of certain lexical units. Lastly, we shall seek for an answer to the question why it is not a necessary requirement for languages to draw a sharp distinction between a word class of nouns and a word class of verbs.
- Morphosyntactic predication : a functional-operational approach (1986)
- As a traditional notion of fundamental importance in linguistics and philosophy (logic), "predication" is fraught with controversial issues. It is thus difficult to delimit the scope of this paper without becoming involved in some major issue. The following distinctions seem to me to be plausible on an intuitive basis. Evidence for why they are useful and legitimate will be found in the body of the paper. The discussion will focus on morphosyntactic predication […].
- Ergativity in Samoan (1985)
- Most typological and language specific studies on so- called ergative languages are concerned with case marking patterns, particularly split ergativity, with the organization of syntactic relations as defined by syntactic operations such as coreferential deletion across coordinate conjunctions, Equi-NP-deletion and relativization , and with the notion of subject, but usually neglect the notion of valency, though the inherent relational properties of the verb , i. e. valency, play a fundamental role in the syntactic organization of sentences in ergative as well as in other languages . The following investigation of ergativity in Samoan aims to integrate the notion of valency into the description of semantic and syntactic relations and to outline the characteristic features of Samoan verbal clauses as far as they seem to be relevant to recent and still ongoing discussions on linguistic typology and syntactic theory. The main points of the definition of valency […] are: Valency is the property of the verb which determines the obligatory and optional number of its participants, their morphosyntactic form, their semantic class membership (e.g. ± animate, ± human) , and their semantic role (e.g. agent , patient , recipient). All semantic properties and morphosyntactic properties of participants not inherently given by the verb and therefore not predictable from the verb, are not a matter of valency. Valency is not a homogenous property of the verb, but consists of several exponents which show varying degress of relevance in different languages or different verb classes within a single language.