Naturalness and markedness

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The following comparison of Naturalness theory and Markedness theory contrasts naturalness scales and markedness relations and the distinct notions of value in the two theories in order to focus on recent advances in the identification of rules of naturalness syntax and markedness syntax. It is shown that whereas naturalness theory offers little basis for accounts of variation and change, key notions in markedness theory play a central role both in accounts of synchronic variation and in explanations of the initiation and actualization of change. In a concluding comparison of the two theories it is argued that Markedness theory in essential respects subsumes Naturalness theory. This explains why many linguists find the two theories kindred, and it suggests that the future will see their unification.


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