Tags » U(niversal) G(rammar)

(Non-)universality of word-classes and words: The mid-20th century shift

Martin Haspelmath
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

While looking at a range of views by grammarians on word-class distinctions (noun, verb, adjective etc.) and word division in two recent papers (Haspelmath 2011; 2012a), I was struck by what appears to have been a major shift of perspective: While the first half of the 20th century emphasizes the uniqueness of languages and the categorial differences between them, the second half starts out from the assumption that languages do not differ in their basic categories. 3,547 more words


The Inevitability of Language Change

gay (adj.)                                                                                                                                   Late 14c., “full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;” also “wanton, lewd, lascivious”. Meaning “stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed” is from early 14c. 905 more words