Summary: Typological studies based on original texts

Bernhard Waelchli Bernhard.Waelchli at UNI-KONSTANZ.DE
Tue Jul 11 13:18:31 UTC 2006

Dear colleagues

Sorry for mistakenly having sent to all my answer to Martin in the local 
vernacular. Please, throw it away! Here is, however, a list of 
references as a result of a query I posted some weeks ago about 
typological studies based on original texts.

I have received answers by Peter Austin, Balthasar Bickel, Greville 
Corbett, Matthew Dryer, Nick Evans, Martin Haspelmath, Kees Hengefeld, 
Paul Hopper, Pieter Muysken, Michael Noonan, Paolo Ramat, Maria 
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Stephen Matthews, and Wolfgang Schulze, and I am 
happy that what started as a simple information question also resulted 
in some more general discussion.

Some of you argued that I should include a broader range of studies than 
what I asked for (lower number of languages, other kinds of studies). 
Since I find all the studies that have been pointed out to me highly 
relevant and useful, I simply included everything I got (as far as I 
could identify the references) and added some more. I certainly missed a 
lot and am still grateful for additional references.

I am especially grateful to Paolo Ramat for having pointed out the 
relevance of parallel texts and questionnaires as other additional 
sources expanding the typologist's toolkit beyond reference grammars. In 
addition, psycholinguistic approaches have to be mentioned, using 
non-verbal stimuli for data collection, including the well-known Pear 
stories and Frog stories. In my view these are all instances of a single 
hyper-approach to data collection in typology, which I call "descriptive 
typology", viz. all typological data collection processes based on 
primary sources rather than descriptions and on exemplars rather than 

Because the list of references got quite long, here is what corresponds 
most prototypically to the original query:
- John Myhill's (1992) typological discourse analysis (including all the 
previous work mentioned there, especially by Talmy Givón) (thanks to 
Stephen Matthews and Kees Hengefeld for having pointed out this to me.)
- Matthew Dryer's about 1,000 datapoints based on texts in WALS (in a 
total of more than 20,000 data points: it is really amazing, Matthew, 
how you manage to do this!),
- Michael Noonan's (2003) unpublished work about referential density 
(including much own fieldwork) [see also Bickel's 2003 study on 
referential density, Balthasar is still working on it with a larger 
sample of languages.]
- Tom Güldemann's (2001) unpublished study.

The references that follow are in no way exhaustive for exemplar-based 
typological approaches. The list is strongly biased toward what has been 
pointed out to me and toward what I have added to the list. Please, tell 
me if you have some more. The list is certainly highly deficient, 
especially in the domains of phonology and phonetics. Maybe it is 
nevertheless of some use.

Kind regards
Bernhard Wälchli


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