Meaning and Universal Grammar

Theory and empirical findings

2 Volumes (set)

Cliff Goddard | The University of New England
ORCID logoAnna Wierzbicka | The Australian National University
ISBN 9789027230676 (Eur) | EUR 240.00
ISBN 9781588113221 (USA) | USD 360.00
This book develops a bold new approach to universal grammar, based on research findings of the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) program. The key idea is that universal grammar is constituted by the inherent grammatical properties of some 60 empirically established semantic primes, which appear to have concrete exponents in all languages. For six typologically divergent languages (Mangaaba-Mbula, Mandarin Chinese, Lao, Malay, Spanish and Polish), contributors identify exponents of the primes and work through a substantial set of hypotheses about their combinatorics, valency properties, complementation options, etc. Each study can also be read as a semantically-based typological profile. Four theoretical chapters by the editors describe the NSM approach and its application to grammatical typology. As a study of empirical universals in grammar, this book is unique for its rigorous semantic orientation, its methodological consistency, and its wealth of cross-linguistic detail.

Table of Contents Volume 1:

The Search for the Shared Semantic Core of All Languages
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar in Malay
The Natural Semantic Metalanguage of Spanish
The Universal Syntax of Semantic Primes in Mandarin Chinese

Table of Contents Volume 2:

Part 1: Individual Language Studies
The Syntax of Semantic Primes in Mangaaba-Mbula
Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar in Polish
Combinatorial Properties of Natural Semantic Metalanguage Expressions in Lao

Part 2: General
Semantic Primes and Linguistic Typology
The On-going Development of the NSM Research Program

[Studies in Language Companion Series, 60-61] 2002.  xvi, 337 pp. & xvi, 337 pp.
Publishing status: Available