The data and the examples: Comprehensiveness, accuracy, and sensitivity

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2014-12
Authors
Mithun, Marianne
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University of Hawai'i Press
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Abstract
Good grammars are read by diverse audiences with a wide variety of interests. One might not write a reference grammar in exactly the same way for all potential users, but particularly in the case of under-documented and endangered languages, it is likely that whatever is produced now will be consulted for answers to questions beyond those originally anticipated. A good grammar can provide more than descriptions of patterns the grammarian has noted at the time of writing; the examples it contains can provide a basis for future discoveries and new uses. It thus makes sense to consider the types of data that might best meet the needs of current and future readers, some of which we cannot even imagine at present. For some purposes, sensitive, typologically-informed elicitation is necessary, while for others, material drawn from unscripted connected speech is crucial. Here the potential contributions of examples of each type are considered for descriptions of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, prosody, language change, and language contact.
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Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
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