Category Archives: Functional Linguistics

New Book: What Counts as Evidence in Linguistics?

I just read an announcement for a new book: What Counts as Evidence in Linguistics Edited by Martina Penke and Anette Rosenbach, and published this year by John Benjamins.  According to the description of the book on the LingusitList, this book focuses on the innateness debate and shows how formal and functional approaches to linguistics have different perspectives on linguistic evidence. The three guiding questions for this volume are: What type of evidence can be used for innateness claims (or UG)?; What is the content of such innate features (or UG)?; and, How can UG be used as a theory guiding empirical research?

This book will be on my list of books to read after I finish my MA Thesis.

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Notes on Functional Linguistics

I mentioned in a previous post that the department of linguistics at the University of Oregon, where I study, is a “bastion of functional linguistics”. So, what is functional linguistics?

Those who call themselves “Functional Linguists” differ on many aspects of linguistic theory, but the one central principle they all share is the answer to the question “What constitutes a satisfactory explanation for the observable facts about language?”Functional explanations are based on communicative function. Languages around the world are in some ways very similar and in other ways radically different because they have been shaped by differing social, and historical processes, but for the one universal purpose of communication based on human cognition. This is in contrast to a formalist explanation that seeks to explain observable (surface) facts about language in terms of a deeper (underlying) level of language. Continue reading

Universal Grammar Ghosts « The Language Realm

The Language Realm blog reports:

A new chapter in the debate about Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar has opened up with real excitement. So even if you’re not into hard-core linguistics and have only heard of UG, read on. It’s worth it.

The story starts with field research nicely summarized on Physorg. The key point is that Daniel L. Everett, a linguist at Illinois State University, claims that the language Pirahã lacks certain fundamental features that UG predicts and requires.

Read it here:  The Language Realm Blog Universal Grammar Ghosts «
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