Chapter 4. On arguing from diachrony for paradigms

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Paradigms hold a special place in most linguistic descriptions and are often crucial in linguistic reconstruction and in the determining genealogical relations. Nonetheless, theoreticians debate whether paradigms constitute a necessary basic construct or instead are secondary, deriving from other basic constructs. This debate impacts the usefulness of the paradigm in typological and historical comparisons, for if the paradigm itself is derivative, it may not offer anything tangible for comparison. However, the diachronic evidence from analogical change demonstrates that speakers clearly recognize the importance of paradigms, for analogies often are restricted to just the paradigm, not extending to derivationally related forms. The role of paradigms for cross-linguistic comparisons, for establishing morphological cognates or for determining typological patterns is thus reaffirmed.


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