Competing Models of Linguistic Change: Evolution and Beyond

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Ole Nedergaard Thomsen
J. Benjamins Pub., 2006 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 344 pages
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The articles of this volume are centered around two competing views on language change originally presented at the 2003 International Conference on Historical Linguistics in the two important plenary papers by Henning Andersen and William Croft. The latter proposes an evolutionary model of language change within a domain-neutral model of a 'generalized analysis of selection', whereas Henning Andersen takes it that cultural phenomena could not possibly be handled, i.e. observed, described, understood, in the same way as natural phenomena. These papers are models of succinct presentation of important theoretical framework. The other papers present and discuss additional models of change, e.g. invisible hand-processes, system-internal models, functional and cognitive models. Most papers do not subscribe to the evolutionary model; instead, they focus on functional factors in the selection and propagation of variants (as opposed to factors of code efficiency), or on cognitive and pragmatic perspectives. Several papers are inspired by the late Eugenio Coseriu and by Henning Andersen's theories on language change. In particular, the volume contains articles proposing interesting grammaticalization studies and extended models of grammaticalization. The clear presentation of important and competing approaches to fundamental questions concerning language change will be of high interest for scholars and students working in the field of diachrony and typology. The languages referred to in the papers include Cantonese, the Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages, Danish, English, Eskimo languages, German, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

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