[Lingtyp] homeostatic property clusters

Nikolaus P Himmelmann n.himmelmann at uni-koeln.de
Sun Feb 7 09:47:15 UTC 2021

Thanks Bill

On 2/6/2021 8:38 PM, William Croft wrote:
>     I agree with that critique (see Croft 2001). But if we take a 
> functionalist, usage-based, constructional approach to language 
> description, then I think that "descriptive categories" will be rather 
> different from what Martin refers to, and will turn out to have more 
> in common with comparative concepts. After all, meanings and discourse 
> functions are part of language-specific description; a usage-based 
> view of constructions and the roles they define would not posit 
> abstract language-specific categories but a conceptual space of uses 
> that are comparable across languages; and the universals found in 
> typological research both define and constrain relations between 
> language-specific constructions, including their variation and 
> evolution (see Croft 2001, 2013). And I think that a lot of language 
> description does much of this in practice, even if the authors aren't 
> particularly concerned about these theoretical issues.
>     (I think I am here largely agreeing with Nikolaus Himmelmann's 
> paper in review that was cited by Erich.)

Yes, that is exactly my point in Against trivializing language 
description (and comparison) <https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/005705>.

The more general point is that I do not believe that *simplistic 
binarisms *(e.g. description vs comparison, analysis vs classification 
(how is one possible without the other?), innate building-blockers vs 
the rest of the world) is a productive way of approaching methodological 
issues in language description and comparison. To be sure, there are 
times and issues where it is helpful to get rid of traditional baggage 
and accumulated metaphysics obscuring the core of an essentially simple 
issue. Reductionism is a necessary and productive ingredient of 
scientific enquiry. But there are limits to pushing hard for the simple 
solution and reducing overwhelming complexity as a methodological step 
as these may easily lead to trivial or dangerously misleading results.

All best


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210207/06cf0559/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list