Typological studies based on original texts

Paolo Ramat paoram at UNIPV.IT
Tue Apr 4 16:59:23 UTC 2006

Dear All,
Bern is speaking  of "careful editions of texts" as well as "original texts" 
and cites as ex. Gueldemann 2001. Grev Corbett  speaks of  "a one million 
word corpus " and, similarly, W. Schulze alludes to "corpus analyses" and 
"corpus-based data". On the other hand Paul Hopper  and Matthew Dryer refer 
to "clause-level typology " and "a large body of texts", respectively.
I wonder whether they have in mind the same referent: is a large body of 
texts a word corpus or something more? And are the translations of the same 
text in many different languages just  'parallel texts', incapable to catch 
important typological features of the target language? I'm thinking of the 
useful studies by Thomas Stolz on the basis of the 'Le petit Prince', 
translated in more than 60 (?) lgs. A student of mine has written her PhD 
dissertation studying  the spatial deixis in the lgs. of Europe not only on 
the basis of reference grammars and questionaires but also drawing her data 
from  nine translations of  'Harry Potter' (: Federica Da Milano, La deissi 
spaziale nelle lingue d'Europa, Milano 2005. FrancoAngeli.).
How to evaluate this kind of typological comparisons? Do they belong to a 
'corpus linguistics' or to some other kind of linguistic data?

prof.Paolo Ramat
Università di Pavia
Dipartimento di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata
tel. ##39 0382 984 484
fax ##39 0382 984 487

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bernhard Waelchli" <bernhard.waelchli at ISW.UNIBE.CH>
To: <LINGTYP at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2006 10:23 AM
Subject: Typological studies based on original texts

> Dear colleagues
> Does anybody know of any typological investigation based mainly or in a
> substantial part on the material of original texts in a large number of
> languages (say, 20 or more). There are by now many typological studies 
> based on
> reference grammars, and even some based on questionnaires, parallel texts, 
> and
> story stimuli (Pear stories, Frog stories) but it seems to me--I would be 
> very
> pleased to be wrong--that there are virtually no large-scale studies based
> mainly or exclusively on original texts. One study I am aware of is the 
> following:
> Güldemann, Tom. (2001). Quotative constructions in African languages: a
> synchronic and diachronic survey. Habilitationsschrift Leipzig. 
> Unpublished
> [based on texts in 39 African languages]
> In a way it seems to be strange that there are few such studies, because
> Greenberg, who was so influential in other respects, made some pilot 
> studies in
> this direction:
> Greenberg, Joseph H. (1960). A quantitative approach to the morphological
> typology of languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 26: 
> 178-194.
> Greenberg, Joseph H. & O'Sullivan, Chris. (1974). Frequency, marking and
> discourse styles with special reference to substantival categories in the
> Romance languages. Working Papers on Language Universals 16: 47-72.
> Connected to the few typological studies based on original texts there is 
> a low
> prestige associated with careful editions of texts (with translations and
> glosses). As a consequence of the intensive typological work based on 
> reference
> grammars, it seems that reference grammars have acquired a higher status 
> during
> the last decades in ever more places (more libraries buy them, more 
> linguists
> write and publish grammars, it becomes a possible topic for a Ph.D. thesis 
> in
> more and more universities). The same does not hold for text collections 
> (most
> libraries do not buy them, most universities will not accept an edited 
> text
> collection as a Ph.D., many linguists never publish their collected texts 
> or
> only a small portion).
> Please, send references to me about typological studies based mainly on 
> original
> texts in more than 20 languages and including at least some non-European
> languages. If there will be any answers I'll make a survey.
> Bernhard Waelchli
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Department of Linguistics
> Deutscher Platz 6
> 04103 Leipzig
> Germany
> -- 
> ========================================
> Bernhard Waelchli
> University of Berne
> bernhard.waelchli at isw.unibe.ch
> ------------------------------------------------------
> This mail was sent through IMP at http://mail.unibe.ch 

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