Are phrases universal?

Johanna Nichols johanna at BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Aug 28 06:09:01 UTC 2009

The entries on that WALS map were based on the marking in clauses and
possessive phrases, so for all six of those languages there seems to have
been something that could be identified as a possessive phrase (an NP with
an adnominal possessor).  I think all six languages have fixed word order
in those phrases, suggesting that there are indeed phrases there.

Johanna Nichols

Alexander V Bochkov wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> I am working on a paper and I need your help (if you have references,
> that's even better!)
> 1. How universal is the phrase? In other words, are there languages that
> lack phrases completely? By phrase I roughly understand "a set of
> syntactic elements which form a constituent (=relatively independent group
> of words)." (Bussmann, Hadumod, Gregory Trauth, Kerstin Kazzazi, and
> Hadumod Bussmann. 1996. Routledge dictionary of language and linguistics.
> Routledge reference. London: Routledge. - p. 902)
>  2. WALS says that there are 6 languages with zero head/dependent marking
> . It is not entirely clear whether those
> languages have phrases or not. If they do, how do we know that?
> Thank you.
> Alexander Bochkov
> --------------------------
> Department of Second Language Studies
> University of Hawaii at Manoa

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