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Linguistic Typology

Ed. by Plank, Frans

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Volume 11, Issue 1 (Jul 2007)


What, if anything, is typology?

Johanna Nichols
  • Corresponding author
  • University of California at Berkeley.
  • Email:
Published Online: 2007-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2007.017


Typology has the hallmarks of a mature discipline: a society, conferences, journals, books, textbooks, classic works, a founding father, and people who are called and call themselves typologists. A typologist probably teaches a course with a title like “Typology and Universals” which includes readings by Greenberg, Dixon, and Dryer, often a textbook such as Whaley (1997), Comrie (1989), Song (2001), and/or Croft (2003), and some grammar-reading assignments. With regard to research, the typologist reads grammars, does at least some crosslinguistic research, has probably done some fieldwork and description, and usually does not identify with or claim allegiance to any particular named theoretical framework. Despite these conspicuous identifying marks, I submit that the position of typologists on this should be that there is no such subfield of linguistics as the usual referent of “typology”.

About the article

*Correspondence address:Slavic Department, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-2979, U.S.A.

Received: 2005-12-17

Revised: 2006-12-30

Published Online: 2007-07-31

Published in Print: 2007-07-20

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2007.017. Export Citation

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