What Linguistic Universals Can Be True Of

  • Aditi Lahiri
  • Frans Plank
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 76)


Universals in linguistics were traditionally intended to be true of languages: “for all languages, p” or “for all languages, if p then q”. Our contention, by contrast, is that many universals have a narrower scope than languages as such, or mental lexicons-and-grammars as such. Linguistic universals are not axiomatically to be conceived of as universals of language: it is only derivatively—namely if universals are true of all parts of each language and of all representations of forms-in-constructions of each language—that this is what they may amount to. Only very basic organising principles of lexicons and grammars should really be expected to make their influence felt pervasively, over all parts and all representations.


Adjective order asymmetry coronal gender infixation markedness universals 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aditi Lahiri
    • 1
  • Frans Plank
    • 2
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxford
  2. 2.Universität KonstanzKonstanz

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