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Rules and Exceptions

Using Exceptions for Empirical Research in Theoretical Linguistics


Christopher Beedham, Warwick Danks and Ether Soselia

This book assembles a collection of papers first presented at the Summer School and Conference on the Method of Lexical Exceptions held at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, 2-8 September 2007, which explored an area of linguistics now referred to as ‘the method of exceptions and their correlations’.
Recognition of the work of Saussure was impeded during his lifetime by the Junggrammatiker (Neogrammarians) and their view of exceptions, but this book incorporates exceptions into a Saussurean approach. Exceptions to rules are treated here not as something wilful and inexplicable, but as a clue to what has gone wrong in the original rule.
The topics covered are the passive, irregular verbs, morphology, transitivity, light verb constructions, resultative verbs, compound nouns, phonology, colour terms, historical-comparative reconstruction, language teaching, Saussurean structuralism and the approach of the Junggrammatiker to exceptions. The languages addressed are English, Arabic, Georgian, Turkish, Russian, the Cushitic languages and German. Grammar and linguistics are usually thought of as purely theoretical disciplines, but this book demonstrates how to use exceptions to conduct ‘experiments’ in the manner of the natural sciences, which leads empirically to better theory.


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Table 1.1 The voice analysis versus the aspect analysis of the passive (in English be + V-ed) 15 Table 1.2 A proposed schedule of phases for using the method of exceptions and correlations in a PhD 18 Table 1.3 The basic morphology of English irregular verbs 23 Table 1.4 The basic morphology of German irregular verbs 23 Table 1.5 The basic morphology of Russian irregular verbs ending in –at’ 24 Table 1.6 Numbers of irregular verbs and structurally compa- rable regular verbs in English, German and Russian 27 Table 2.1 Verbal patterns and lexical frequencies 43 Table 2.2 Extract from data tabulated by root and pattern 45 Table 2.3 Co-occurrence of Patterns III and VI 46 Table 2.4 Selected forms with C1āC2 or C2āC3 sequence 52 Table 3.1 Correspondences between Gothic and Sanskrit, Greek and Latin 63 Table 3.2 Two in Gothic and Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Armenian 65 Table 3.3 Correspondences between Indo-European, Greek and Armenian 65 Table 3.4 Old High German consonant shift 67 Table 3.5 Correspondences between Gothic, Sanskrit, Greek and Latin 73 x Tables Table 5.1 Results of list test: Frequency of terms 107 Table 5.2 Results of list test: Average place in the list 109 Table 5.3 Results of list test: Percentage score within a place number 110 Table 10.1 Prefix-like morphemes (interfixes) in Turkish 167 Table 11.1 Light Verb Constructions and verbal group complexes 190 Table 11.2 The distribution of make and take in fifty dif ferent Light Verb Constructions 193 Table...

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