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Performance-grammar correspondences and the typology of complex sentences

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This talk provides an overview of a currently thriving research programme that combines the study of grammatical variation in the world’s languages (linguistic typology) with the detailed analysis of usage patterns in individual languages (corpus linguistics). Hawkins’ (2004) ‘Performance-Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis’ and more general trends in modern linguistic typology (Bickel 2007) suggest that corpus studies can contribute to substantiating and motivating universals of grammatical structure. In this spirit, I will examine cross-linguistic constraints on complex sentences and consider what corpus-based work reveals with respect to their explanation. An illustrative case study will be concerned with the structure of purpose clauses, particularly their linearization, verbal semantics and argument structure, but (time permitting) I will also briefly survey analogous work on relativization, complementation and converbal constructions.


Bickel, Balthasar (2007). Typology in the 21st Century: Major Current Developments. Linguistic Typology 11: 239-251.

Hawkins, John A. (2004). Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This talk is part of the RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia series.

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