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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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Warwick Danks 2 Evaluation and Adaptation: Applying the Method of Exceptions and their Correlat


ions to Modern Standard Arabic Abstract Application of Beedham’s method of exceptions and their correlations to researching a grammatical puzzle in Modern Standard Arabic is described and evaluated. A three-year period of research for a PhD from 2006 to 2009 is documented having the method as its starting point and culminating in formulation of an apposite solution to the research problem. It is shown how Beedham’s principles are examined, applied and adapted, together with other methodologies, in pursuit of a grammatical formulation which is almost excep- tion-free. Valuable insight provided by examination of exceptions is acknowledged, whilst proving Beedham’s original methodology capable of modification and adaptation to gram- matical problems in a language substantially dissimilar and unrelated to the Indo-European languages on the basis of which the method first developed. Introduction Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is notable for its high degree of regularity.1 Word formation follows a typically Semitic root-and-pattern morphol- ogy2 which is highly systematized according to a finite set of patterns. However, despite a rich and ancient tradition of grammatical introspection, 1 This is a completely revised and updated (in 2013) version of a paper given at the Conference on the Method of Lexical Exceptions held at the University of St Andrews from 2 to 8 September 2007. 2 Though see also Danks 2011: 39–55. 42 Warwick Danks the language still of fers many puzzles for the contemporary linguist. In Danks (2011), I pursue the meaning of two related verbal patterns (III and VI), in research inspired...

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