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Toward a balanced grammatical description

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dc.contributor.author Payne, Thomas
dc.date.accessioned 2014-11-17T21:00:29Z
dc.date.available 2014-11-17T21:00:29Z
dc.date.issued 2014-12
dc.identifier.isbn ISBN-13: 978-0-9856211-4-8
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4586
dc.description.abstract The writer of a grammatical description attempts to accomplish many goals in one complex document. Some of these goals seem to conflict with one another, thus causing tension, discouragement and paralysis for many descriptive linguists. For example, all grammar writers want their work to speak clearly to general linguists and to specialists in their language area tradition. Yet a grammar that addresses universal issues, may not be detailed enough for specialists; while a highly detailed description written in a specialized areal framework may be incomprehensible to those outside of a particular tradition. In the present chapter, I describe four tensions that grammar writers often face, and provide concrete suggestions on how to balance these tensions effectively and creatively. These tensions are: • Comprehensiveness vs. usefulness. • Technical accuracy vs. understandability. • Universality vs. specificity. • A ‘form-driven’ vs. a ‘function-driven’ approach. By drawing attention to these potential conflicts, I hope to help free junior linguists from the unrealistic expectation that their work must fully accomplish all of the ideals that motivate the complex task of describing the grammar of a language. The goal of a description grammar is to produce an esthetically pleasing, intellectually stimulating, and genuinely informative piece of work.
dc.description.sponsorship National Foreign Language Resource Center
dc.publisher University of Hawai'i Press
dc.relation.ispartofseries LD&C Special Publication
dc.rights Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
dc.title Toward a balanced grammatical description
Appears in Collections: LD&C Special Publication No. 8: The Art and Practice of Grammar Writing


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