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Koenig, Jean-Pierre & Michelson, Karin: Deconstructing SYNtax

There are at least two distinct ways of conceiving of syntax: the set of rules that enable speakers and listeners to combine the meaning of expressions (compositional syntax), or the set of formal constraints on the combinations of expressions (formal syntax). The question that occupies us in this paper is whether all languages include a significant formal syntax component or whether there are languages in which most syntactic rules are exclusively compositional. Our claims are (1) that Oneida (Northern Iroquoian) has almost no formal syntax component and is very close to a language that includes only a compositional syntax component and (2) that the little formal syntax Oneida has does not require making reference to syntactic features.


Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: October 13, 2014
Last modified: January 09, 2019

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