[Lingtyp] How do typologists use examples in grammars?

Florian Matter florian.matter at isw.unibe.ch
Tue Jun 1 18:35:07 UTC 2021

1. for the purpose of illustrating a particular phenomenon: shorter is better, since the relevant part(s) will form a bigger part of the presented material.
2. -
3. -
4. brevity, as unproblematic glossing as possible
5. clearly 5/5 — if they exist!


On 1 June 2021 at 19:30:35, Eline Visser (eelienu at pm.me) wrote:

Dear typologists,

I’d like to learn more about how you use the examples given in grammars. I have just finished a grammar myself, and will continue to do descriptive work in the future, and this is a topic that fascinates me. I'm especially interested in knowing if one can discern the traits of a good example (for typological use). I’d be glad if some of you could take the time to answer the questions below, either briefly or elaborately. You can email me the answers. Also, if there’s is anything published on this topic please do let me know.

1. In general, do you prefer short (let’s say <1 line) or longer (> 1 line) examples? Elaborate if you wish.

2. In general, do you have a preference for examples from a certain genre? Which? You can interpret genre broadly or narrowly, in which ever way you like: monologue, dialogue, anecdotes, recipes, hymns, picture-matching tasks…

3. In general, do you have a dispreference for examples of a certain genre?

4. Say you have two examples that illustrate your point equally well. What could be a deciding factor for choosing one over another?

5. Say you can’t find an example that illustrates your point well. On a scale from 1-5, how likely is it that you will go to the language’s corpus or the attached texts in the grammar to find one yourself? (1= very unlikely, 5 = very likely)

6. Anything else you’d like to share about examples in grammars? Feel free to rant.


P.s. For those who ordered a Kalamang grammar hard copy - they’re in Sweden, I’m in Norway, traveling isn’t as easy as I thought yet, so this takes a bit longer than I thought, sorry!

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