Language Grammar

Bio-linguistics: The Santa Barbara Lectures by T. Givón

By T. Givón

Is human language an evolutionary model? Is linguistics a typical technology? those questions have bedeviled philosophers, philologists and linguists from Plato via Chomsky. Givon means that the solutions fall evidently inside an built-in research of residing organisms. during this paintings, Givon issues out that language operates among facets of either advanced organic layout and adaptive behaviour. As in biology, the complete is an adaptive compromise to competing calls for. edition is the integral device of studying, switch and edition. The distinction among innateness and input-driven emergence is an interplay among genetically-coded and behaviourally-coded adventure. In enlarging the cross-disciplinary area, the publication examines the parallels among language evolution and language diachrony. Sociality, cooperation and communique are proven to be rooted in a standard evolutionary resource, the kin-based hunting-and-gathering society of intimates. The booklet can pay homage to the overdue Joseph Greenberg and his visionary integration of useful motivation, typological variety and diachronic swap.

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Categories of meaning in the Platonic tradition are clean and discrete, with no hedges, ambiguities or gradations. This idealization was passed down to us through an illustrious logic-oriented tradition, via Descartes and the Logical Positivists (Russell 1918). 35 36 Bio-Linguistics The Platonic approach to categories may be illustrated with a ven diagram which allows individuals either membership or non-membership in a category — but never partial membership along a continuum of similarity. (3) B A C In terms of the frequency distribution of the populations of token-members of two different category-types along the continuum categorial space, it is implicit in the Platonic approach that all members cluster equally well around the categorial mean, with no variability or ‘degree of membership’.

1994; inter alia). Therefore, if we were to construct a taxonomy of the passive sub-types A through E by means of structural similarity alone, we would group the English BE-passive (A) with the other adjectival copular constructions in (14). We would group the Ute passive (B) with verb-phrase nominalization in (15). We would group the Spanish se-marked impersonal passive (C) with the reflexive, reciprocal and middle-voice constructions in (16). We would group the Kimbundu passive (D) with either L-dislocation or the impersonal-’they’ clause in (17).

One can now go on and observe the pattern of structural similarities between A,B,C,D, and then group them accordingly. 1). Consider the cross-linguistic typological diversity of passive construction. A quick survey will reveal the following major structural types (Givón 1995, 2001): A. Adjectival-stative: In some languages, such as English, a passive clause arose diachronically from, and still resembles structurally, predicate-adjective (stative-resultative) clauses, as in: (14) a. b. c. d. Passive: It was broken (by someone) Adjectival-stative: It is broken Perfect-resultative: It has been broken Predicate-adjective: It is big B.

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