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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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About the author


CHRISTOPHER BEEDHAM is Lecturer in the Department of German, School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews. He has published on the passive and irregular verbs in English, German and Russian and is developing a method of research in linguistics which he calls ‘the method of exceptions and their correlations’.

WARWICK DANKS is University Examinations Officer at the University of St Andrews and holds a PhD in Arabic and Linguistics from the University of St Andrews. His PhD thesis on the Arabic verb, in which he used ‘the method of exceptions and their correlations’, was published in 2011 and reviewed in Language in 2012.

ETHER SOSELIA is Professor of Linguistics at Tbilisi State University. Her PhD thesis was on the typology of colour term systems and her monograph Semantic Universals and the Kartvelian Languages: Models of Colour Categorization was published in 2009 (in Georgian).

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