grammaticalization and complexity

Daniel Everett dan at
Wed Mar 16 13:13:40 UTC 2011

What Wolfgang says here is true and it is perennial source of confusion in some grammars.  As readers of this list know, it is quite possible for a language to use a semantic category without expressing that category formally in the lexicon or morphology. So claiming that a language lacks a past tense or definiteness distinctions (or numbers, or recursivity, etc) in the morphology doesn't mean that they lack it in the semantics or vice-versa. That is one reason why it is so difficult to answer Fritz's question - we need to be clear what we mean by 'grammar' by 'complexity' and so on. 

And on the general subject of complexity, Osten's book is one of those that should be read by all (as well Tom Givon's on grammatical complexity).


On Mar 16, 2011, at 9:04 AM, Wolfgang Schulze wrote:

> Dear Bernd and Fritz,
> languages without an article system do not (necessarily) imply that speakers of that language do not know the concept of (in)definiteness.

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