[Lingtyp] A list of 50 basic sentences
christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Sun May 9 09:24:26 UTC 2021
as Martin says, this can be a valuable project. Just a few observations
The method you envisage seems valid to the extent that the 50 sentences
that you choose are representative of what you want to compare -
grammatical systems of languages, I assume.
A list of sentences taken to be representative of a language system has
been used in the Archivo de lenguas indígenas de México. A preliminary
survey of what can be expected from this approach is provided in:
Lastra, Yolanda 1993f, "El archivo de lenguas indígenas de México."
/Boletín de Filología/ 34:463-476.
The list of sentences itself appears in each of the contributions to the
As some correspondents have observed, this method can be reliable only
if you guarantee communicative equivalence of the sentences to the
extent possible. This would be true a fortiori if a great weight were
attributed to differences in constituent order. However, just as others
have suggested, it would seem wise not to exaggerate this weight.
Constituent order at the higher levels of syntax is among the most
variable features of a grammar.
A basic contribution to the requirement of guaranteeing communicative
equivalence was made by Östen Dahl with his contextualized translation
questionnaires. A sample of them is published in:
Dahl, Östen (ed.) 2000, /Tense and aspect in the languages of Europe./
Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter (Empirical Approaches to Language
Typology, EUROTYP, 20-6).
Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
E-Post: christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
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