This book looks at the relationship between linguistic universals and language change. Reflecting the resurgence of work in both fields over the last two decades, it addresses two related issues of central importance in linguistics: the balance between synchronic and diachronic factors in accounting for universals of linguistic structure, and the means of distinguishing genuine aspects of a universal human cognitive capacity for language from regularities that may be traced to extraneous origins. The volume brings together specially commissioned work by leading scholars, including prominent representatives of generative and functional linguistics. It examines rival explanations for linguistic universals and assesses the effectiveness of competing models of language change. The authors investigate patterns and processes of grammatical and lexical change across a wide range of languages; they consider the degree to which common characteristics condition processes of change in related languages; and examine how far differences in linguistic outcomes may be explained by cultural or external factors. This book will interest the wide range of scholars in linguistics and related fields concerned with language change, historical linguistics, linguistic typology and universals, and the nature of the human language faculty.
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