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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 27, 2016

Thoughts on language-specific and crosslinguistic entities

  • Östen Dahl EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistic Typology


This article discusses questions arising in connection with Martin Haspelmath’s proposal to distinguish between “descriptive categories” at the language-specific level and “comparative concepts” at the crosslinguistic level, where the latter cannot be seen as either crosslinguistic categories or category types (Haspelmath 2010). It is argued that comparative concepts may be better subsumed under the notion of “generalizing concept”, which is not tied to any specific level of analysis, and that the distinction between what is language-specific and what is crosslinguistic is not absolute. Further, it is shown that crosslinguistic pattern clusters as identified in what is here called “bottom-up typology” meshes well with the homeostatic property cluster approach to biological species.


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Received: 2016-3-16
Revised: 2016-6-19
Published Online: 2016-9-27
Published in Print: 2016-10-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

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