Postal quote/directionality

Jose-Luis Mendivil jlmendi at POSTA.UNIZAR.ES
Fri Nov 22 13:23:55 UTC 2002

At 10:19 +0000 22/11/02, Daniel Everett wrote:
>I agree with you and with Bill. But I think that Postal does too.
>There are two aspects of change, as you know.
>         (i) Where is it likely to occur in language structures?
>Here is where directionality and functional & structural constraints
>are crucial.
>         (ii) When is it likely to occur? This is what Weinrich
>called the 'actuation problem'. And this is social, as Postal, among
>many others has said.
>Postal was not intending, I do not believe, to summarize all of
>linguistic change in that quote.

Although this could sound paradoxical, I agree with Everett, but not
with Haspelmath or Croft. If 'actuation' (and diffusion) is (are)
social and not functional, then the explanation of lg change is not
really functional, unless we interchange wrongly causes and effects,
as argued cleverly in Lass' final chapter (1997: Historical
Linguistics and Language Change, Cambridge University Press) and in
Sihler's recent Handbook (2000: Language History. An Introduction,
John Benjamins).

Best regards,
Jose-Luis Mendivil

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