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Non-aprioristic typology as a discovery tool

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Abstract

Aprioristic approaches to typology, whether based on assumptions about cognition or real-world reference or on categories exhibited in a single language or groups of languages, are likely to overlook important functions that just happen to lie outside of the aprioristically assumed categories. The present study proposes that a typology can be used as a tool in finding what facts in languages require an explanation. It can also be used as a tool in providing an explanation of why certain expressions in language have the form they have. The typology may even explain why lexical items that have the same reference have different properties across the languages. In order to be useful for the above tasks the typology must be non-aprioristic. The present study consists of three major themes: (1) a discussion of theoretical issues involved in aprioristic and non-aprioristic typology; (2) a proposal for the form of non-aprioristic typology; (3) an illustration of non-aprioristic typology in the domain of locative predication in some Chadic languages.

References

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