Book

Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

John A. Hawkins

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780199252695
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191719301 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199252695.001.0001
Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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This book addresses a question fundamental to any discussion of grammatical theory and grammatical variation: to what extent can principles of grammar be explained through language use? The book argues that there is a profound correspondence between performance data and the fixed conventions of grammars. Preferences and patterns found in the one, the book shows, are reflected in constraints and variation patterns in the other. The theoretical consequences of the proposed ‘performance-grammar correspondence hypothesis’ are far-reaching — for current grammatical formalisms, for the innateness hypothesis, and for psycholinguistic models of performance and learning. Drawing on empirical generalizations and insights from language typology, generative grammar, psycholinguistics, and historical linguistics, this book demonstrates that the assumption that grammars are immune to performance is false. It presents detailed empirical case studies and arguments for an alternative theory in which performance has shaped the conventions of grammars and thus the variation patterns found in the world’s languages. The innateness of language, the book argues, resides primarily in the mechanisms human beings have for processing and learning it.

Keywords: grammatical theory; grammatical variation; language use; preferences; patterns; innateness hypothesis; psycholinguistic models; innateness

Book.  324 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Linguistic Forms, Properties, and Efficient Signaling in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Defining the Efficiency Principles and their Predictions in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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More on Form Minimization in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Adjacency Effects Within Phrases in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Minimal Forms in Complements/Adjuncts and Proximity in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Relative Clause and <i>Wh</i>-movement Universals in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Symmetries, Asymmetric Dependencies, and Earliness Effects in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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Conclusions in Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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