The Problem of Cross-Linguistic Identification

Leon Stassen

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 Problem of Cross-Linguistic Identification

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This article defines the problem of cross-linguistic identification. The problem can be stated in the following question: how can one be sure that the data which is selected from the languages in the sample form a coherent body of facts? Although the problem of cross-linguistic identification is not often addressed explicitly in typological studies, it is clear that a solution to it is vital to any typological enquiry. Examples of mixed definitions are presented in which the external criteria have ‘wider’ scope and the formal criteria have ‘narrower’ scope; that is, the formal criteria are employed to create a subset of the phenomena which the external criteria permit. Most typologists working today seem to agree that mixed functional–formal domain definitions constitute the best strategy for ensuring cross-linguistic comparability.

Keywords: cross-linguistic identification; typological enquiry; functional–formal domain; languages

Article.  3798 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology

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