Introduction to Typology

Course time: 
Monday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 PM
The 90, Room 215

Typology is, at its core, the study of types. Rather than simply cataloguing the different ‘types’ of things (languages, constructions, segments, grammatical or phonological devices), modern (linguistic) typology examines ‘types’ of linguistic phenomena, and links them to other data. Data on types of case marking might be linked to verbal agreement, databases of vowel systems might be correlated with tonal categories, any of these could be checked against geographic or genealogical controls at varying degrees of granularity. This course introduces the kinds of variation in ‘types’ of linguistic phenomena we can investigate, and the problems and fallacies involved in this kind of investigation. The notion of statistical, absolute, and local universals will be discussed, as well as issues in sampling and bootstrapping, and quantitative approaches to typological investigation. Data from phonological and morpho-syntactic systems will dominate the discussion, with attendants encouraged to both use existing databases, and to assemble their own selection with which to work during (and after!) the course.