Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

ISBN : 9780199252695

John A. Hawkins
324 Pages
156 x 237 mm
Pub date
Nov 2004
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This book addresses a question fundamental to any discussion of grammatical theory and grammatical variation: to what extent can principles of grammar be explained through language use? John A. Hawkins argues that there is a profound correspondence between performance data and the fixed conventions of grammars. Preferences and patterns found in the one, he shows, are reflected in constraints and variation patterns in the other. The theoretical consequences of the proposed 'performance-grammar correspondence hypothesis' are far-reaching - for current grammatical formalisms, for the innateness hypothesis, and for psycholinguistic models of performance and learning. Drawing on empirical generalizations and insights from language typology, generative grammar, psycholinguistics, and historical linguistics, Professor Hawkins demonstrates that the assumption that grammars are immune to performance is false. He presents detailed empirical case studies and arguments for an alternative theory in which performance has shaped the conventions of grammars and thus the variation patterns found in the world's languages. The innateness of language, he argues, resides primarily in the mechanisms human beings have for processing and learning it. This important book will interest researchers in linguistics (including typology and universals, syntax, grammatical theory, historical linguistics, functional linguistics, and corpus linguistics), psycholinguistics (including parsing, production, and acquisition), computational linguistics (including language-evolution modelling and electronic corpus development); and cognitive science (including the modeling of the performance-competence relationship, pragmatics, and relevance theory).


1. Introduction
2. Linguistics Forms, Properties and Efficient Signaling
3. Defining the Efficiency Principles and their Predictions
4. More on Form Minimization
5. Adjacency Effects Within Phrases
6. Minimal Forms in complements/Adjuncts and Proximity
7. Relative Clause and Wh-movement Universals
8. Symmetries, Asymmetric Dependencies and Earliness Effects
9. Conclusions
Index of Authors
Index of Languages
Subject Index

About the author: 

John A. Hawkins completed his PhD at Cambridge University in 1975. He has held positions at the University of Essex, the Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics, and the University of Southern California. In 2003 he was elected to a chair at Cambridge. His visiting appointments include UCLA, Berkeley, Potsdam, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He has research interests in linguistics and cognitive science and has published books and articles on typology and universals, syntax and grammatical theory, and psycholinguistics and historical linguistics. Recently, his particular focus has been the relationship between principles of language use and grammars. His books include A Performance Theory of Order and Constituency (Cambridge, 1994); A Comparative Typology of English and German (Austin, 1986) Word Order Universals (New York, 1983), Definiteness, and Indefiniteness: A Study in Reference and Grammaticality Prediction (London, 1978).

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