Obituary in memory of Professor Kibrik, a prominent Russian linguist and specialist in computer methods in linguistics.
Review of the edited volume Boye, K. & P. Kehayov (eds.). 2016. Complementizer Semantics in European Languages. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. Retrieved 22 Nov. 2017, from https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/455040
This paper summarizes the contribution to linguistics by Andrey A. Zaliznyak (1935–2017), the renowned Russian linguist who studied Russian morphology, Old Russian, Slavic accentology and also was the key figure in teaching linguistics to university students in the USSR and in Russia.
We provide a critical review of the distinction between “comparative concepts” and “descriptive categories”, showing that in current typological practice the former are usually dependent on the latter and are often vague, being organized around prototypes rather than having sharp boundaries. We also propose a classification of comparative concepts, arguing that their definitions can be based on similarities between languages, on differences between languages, as well as admittedly be “blind” to language-particilar facts. We conclude that, first, comparative concepts and descriptive categories are not so sharply ontologically distinct as some typologists would like to have it, and, second, that attempts at a “non-aprioristic” approach to linguistic description and language typology are more an illusion than reality or even desideratum.
The category of person has both inflectional and lexical aspects, and the distinction provides a finely graduated grammatical trait, relatively stable in both families and areas, and revealing for both typology and linguistic geography. Inflectional behavior includes reference to speech-act roles, indexation of arguments, discreteness from other categories such as number or gender, assignment and/or placement in syntax, arrangement in paradigms, and general resemblance to closed-class items. Lexical behavior includes sharing categories and/or forms and/or syntactic behavior with major lexical classes (usually nouns) and generally resembling open-class items. Criteria are given here for typologizing person as more vs. less inflectional, some basic typological correlations are tested, and the worldwide linguistic-geographical distribution is mapped.
It is a great pleasure to offer the present volume of some of the best papers of our dear friend and colleague Frans Plank, in commemoration of the 21 years he has served as founding editor of our journal, Linguistic Typology. When Uri Tadmor originally brought up the idea of a celebratory volume, we immediately contacted a number of leading scholars, colleagues, and friends of Frans, who we knew would rush to honor him and recognize the extensive contributions he has made to field in so many ways. Although we did briefly consider soliciting original papers to honor him, we then imagined how Frans would evaluate them in order to earn his own imprimatur: “accept with minor revisions”, “accept with major revisions”, “not in the remit of this volume” etc. We realized that what we really wanted to do was to assemble—and reread—Frans’s own great work which has so inspired the four of us and countless others. We added to this the decision to invite colleagues who have interacted with him in the typological sphere to submit their own statements of appreciation for the scholar and the person. We were delighted to receive the 20 contributions that precede the six articles we chose which reflect some of his best work, all of it sanctioned by the supportive De Gruyter Mouton Publishers. The outpouring of thoughtful and personal testimonials we received cover such a wide range of recognizable reactions and citations of Frans’s scholarship, historical knowledge, intellectual leadership, humor, and lovable quirkiness that we feel it necessary to plagiarize and cite from these letters in this brief preface to the volume.