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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: Hulst, Harry

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Discussion paper on Gilbert Lazard's “On the status of linguistics with particular regard to typology”

Paolo Ramat1


Citation Information: The Linguistic Review. Volume 21, Issue 3-4, Pages 413–420, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: 10.1515/tlir.2004.21.3-4.413, July 2005

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This paper deals with the concept of internal versus external explanation in linguistics and the difficulty of drawing a clear-cut dividing line. Crosslinguistic comparison helps us to understand what may be considered as strictly pertaining to the linguistic dimension or to a larger cognitive frame. Linguistic categories are then discussed in this frame of reference and a scheme is proposed where the notion of “category” does not apply to concepts such as “passive”, “perfect”, or “subject”. Finally it is maintained that the classical “parts-of-speech” theory is still a valuable tool for crosslinguistic comparison in a typological perspective.

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