This volume brings together eleven papers which relate to a seminar on language typology held at SOAS in 1988–89. Their subject-matter reflects two main influences.
Firstly, a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust enabled us to study the work of the Leningrad Group for the Typological Study of Languages and to make some of it accessible in English translation. English versions of two key papers are included here: A.A. Xolodovič on Japanese passives, preceded by M.Shibatani’s discussion; and the essay by V.P.Nedjalkov, G.A.Otaina and A.A.Xolodovič on causatives in Nivkh, preceded by Judith Knott’s Leningrad-inspired analysis of the causative-passive link.
Secondly, we were fortunate in having with us during the early stages of the seminar Professor Masayoshi Shibatani of Kobe University, Japan, who gave our discussions guidance and direction. Both Shibatani and the Leningrad/St.Petersburg typologists have worked extensively on questions relating to the valency structure of lexical predicates and in particular on grammatical devices which affect the mapping relations between syntactic and semantic roles, as in grammatical voice.