The Pioneers of Linguistic Typology: From Gabelentz to Greenberg

Giorgio Graffi

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 The Pioneers of Linguistic Typology: From Gabelentz to Greenberg

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This article presents a background to Georg von der Gabelentz's typology. It also deals with some of his contemporaries. In the age of structural linguistics, scholars such as Sapir and Hjelmslev are explored. The topic of word order as a typological feature, however, essentially remained extraneous to their research, while some important insights on it can be found in Tesnière's work. R. Jakobson paved the way to an ‘implicational’ view of typology, which was systematically developed by J. H. Greenberg shortly after him. And indeed, word-order parallelisms seen within an ‘implicational’ perspective became the basic standard for linguistic typology with Greenberg's essay. Tesnière's classification of languages results from the way they realize structural order as linear order. The impact of Greenberg's essay did not lie so much in its explanatory proposals as in the neatness of the correlations it stated.

Keywords: von der Gabelentz; Sapir; Hjelmslev; Tesnière; R. Jakobs; J. H. Greenberg; linguistic typology

Article.  7661 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology

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