[Lingtyp] To write or not to write the examples

Reggie Duah reggieduah at gmail.com
Sat Feb 27 07:31:07 UTC 2021

Dear Ian,

I don't know if you need to cite each language that has a particular
feature you discuss. In most cases, it should be possible to cite some
languages as representative of the feature you are discussing and provide a
comprehensive list of languages in the sample with references (in a

In terms of page and/or word  limit, this would depend on your university's
requirements. In the case where you're limited by number of words or pages,
you may consider using an appendix to include the relevant data and
references which do not make it into the text, as some have suggested.

Although your priority must include presenting data within your text rather
than referring the reader to another source, if it is important not to
overwhelm the reader with so much examples within the text.

It's a balancing act between providing helpful information, flow of text,
University's requirements and the art of writing itself.

Best regards,


On Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 3:05 pm JOO, Ian [Student], <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>

> Dear typologists,
> For my doctoral thesis, I am planning to investigate 50+ linguistic
> features in 50+ East Asian languages.
> Approximately a third of the features are morphosyntactic features (others
> being phonological or semantic).
> For the morphosyntactic features, I am wondering whether it would be
> desirable to write the example that illustrates the feature of each
> language.
> Suppose that I want to illustrate the basic word order feature of the
> sample East Asian languages.
> There are two options:
> *Option 1.* Write the examples and the citation information.
> Mandarin: SVO.
> (1) Example sentence. (Wang 2001:100)
> Korean: SOV.
> (2) Example sentence. (Kim 2002:200)
> *Option 2.* Only write the citation information.
> Mandarin: SVO. (Wang 2001:100)
> Korean: SOV. (Kim 2002:200)
> The advantage of Option 1 would be that the reader has a clearer view into
> the feature of each language. The disadvantage is that my thesis will be
> very long, likely more than 100,000 words, since there are 50+ sample
> languages, thus hundreds of example sentences.
> The advantage of Option 2 will be that my thesis will be more concise,
> foregoing a long list of examples. The disadvantage is that the reader will
> have to consult the cited literature in order to actually see how that
> feature is realized in each language.
> As a reader, which of the two options would you find most helpful? I would
> like to hear your opinion.
> From Hong Kong,
> Ian
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