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Rules and Exceptions

Using Exceptions for Empirical Research in Theoretical Linguistics


Edited By 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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The papers in this volume are revised and updated versions of papers deliv- ered at the Summer School and Conference on the Method of Lexical Exceptions held from 2 to 8 September 2007 at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, organized by myself and Warwick Danks.1 From the publication of this volume the above mentioned method is now called the method of exceptions and their correlations, for reasons which are given in my paper. Appended to each paper is an extract from the discussion which followed the paper, as transcribed at the time, with updates where necessary. I am especially grateful to Prof. Thomas V. Gramkrelidze, University of Tbilisi, Georgia, for recommending the Summer School and Conference to his colleagues and students and facilitating their attendance, and for giving permission to publish here slightly revised versions of two papers first published in the Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. The contribution of the Georgian participants was invaluable, both quan- titatively and qualitatively. I am grateful to all those who attended and gave papers at the Summer School and Conference, making it such an interesting and fruitful event. Thanks also to my colleagues, students and the secretarial staf f in the School of Modern Languages and in SAILLS (St Andrews Institute of Language and Linguistic Studies) for their help, advice and support. I am grateful also to the Russell Trust and to the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for their financial support. Christopher Beedham St Andrews 21...

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