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Cross-Linguistic Variation and Efficiency - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Cross-Linguistic Variation and Efficiency

John A. Hawkins


This book argues that major patterns of variation across languages are structured by general principles of efficiency in language use and communication. Evidence for these comes from languages permitting structural choices from which selections are made in performance, e.g. between competing word orders and between relative clauses with a resumptive pronoun versus a gap. The preferences and patterns of performance within languages are reflected in the fixed conventions and variation patterns across grammars, leading to a ‘‘Performance–Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis.’’ The general theory tha ... More

Keywords: complexity, corpus linguistics, crosslinguistic variation, efficiency, language universals, noun phrase structure, OV and VO languages, Performance–Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis, processing ease, typology

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199664993
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664993.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

John A. Hawkins, author
Professor of Linguistics, University of California Davis