At the end of the course, students should:
- be familiar with basic principles, tools and methodology of linguistic typology
- be able to appreciate linguistic diversity
- be exposed to numerous phenomena from different linguistic levels (morphology, syntax, phonology)
- have developed their ability to synthesize information
- have enhanced their problem-solving and analytical skills
Course Content (Syllabus)
This course will briefly present the vast diversity that the approximately 7000 living languages of today present in terms of their phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. At the same time, it will offer an introduction to Typology, the field of linguistics that classifies languages according to their common features while seeking an explanation as to why certain structures are more common than others or why certain structures are cross-linguistically unattested. For that purpose, different theoretical approaches (e.g. formalist vs. functional) will be addressed taking into consideration both synchronic and diachronic views. In addition, issues of methodology and language-sample-construction will be discussed, terms such as language families and language universals will be clarified, while topics in morphological typology (the relationship between morphemes-words-sentences, types of affixation), syntactic typology (sentential word-order, ergative-absolutive systems), phonological typology (preferred sounds, syllable structure, stress and tone), and semantic typology (color and kinship terms, semantic maps) will be explored. Questions that will be answered during the course include, among many others: (a) why is Greek genetically closer to Iranian/Farsi than Hungarian? (b) why is English (phonologically) exotic? (c) why are there languages where in a sentence like “Mary slapped John and left”, it is actually John who left and not Mary?
language families, universals, samples, formalism, functionalism, linguistic phenomena
Additional bibliography for study
Bickel, B. & J. Nichols. 2007. Inflectional Morphology. In T. Shopen (ed.), Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Voll. III, pp. 169-240. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Comrie, B. 1981/1989. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. Syntax and Morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Croft, W. 1995. Typology and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dixon, R.M.W. 1994. Ergativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Greenberg, J. 1966a. Some Universals of Language with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements. In J. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Language. 2nd. Edition. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Greenberg, J. 1966b. Chapter 3, Grammar and Lexicon. In J. Greenberg (ed.), Language universals with special reference to feature hierarchies. The Hague: Mouton.
Greenberg, J. 1978, Some generalizations concerning initial and final consonant clusters. In J. Greenberg, C. A. Haspelmath, M., M. Dryer, D. Gil, and B. Comrie (eds.) 2005. The World Atlas of Language Structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press [N.B: abbreviated as WALS]
Hayes, B. 1995. Metrical Stress Theory. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press
Lieber, R. 2009. Introducing Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Linguistic Typology 11. 2007 (Various papers in this issue by Bickel, Nichols, Polinsky, etc.)
Moravcsik. E. 2013. Introducing Language Typology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pereltsvaig, A. 2012. Languages of the World: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Song, J.J. 2018. Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Velupillai, V. 2012. An Introduction to Linguistic Typology. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Whaley, L. 1997. An Introduction to Language Typology: The Unity and Diversity of Language. Sage Publications.