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By H. Myron Bromley

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Extra resources for A grammar of Lower Grand Valley Dani

Example text

The following is a summary of what is taken as “given” for the purposes of this paper. 1 One part of General Linguistic theory is a theory of how language works. It is from this that the methods of Descriptive Linguistics are derived. 2 The relevant theory consists of a scheme of interrelated categories which are set up to account for the data, and a set of scales of abstraction which relate the categories to the data and to each other. 3 Description consists in relating the text to the categories of the theory.

At present any universal system of categories must rest on other than formal linguistic criteria: if such can be provided, for example, by mathematics, so much the better – the “structural” linguist will not “reject” it, but he cannot be expected to provide it within his own terms of reference. What “structural” linguistics has done has been to concentrate, partly in redress of the balance in linguistics, on the first of the methods of description outlined in the first paragraph above. It is in fact by the study of systems and structures within the framework of particular description that this body of theory, and the methods derived from it, 24 systematic description and comparison have earned the name of “structural” linguistics.

2 Particular description in grammar: units and classes A complete analysis at the grammatical level (Firth 1935; 1951: 121), in a particular description in which all forms of the language are related to systems set up within the language itself, requires the establishment of grammatical categories, ordered as terms in interrelated systems and having as exponents the substantial (phonic or graphic) segments of the text. Such categories are of two types, which we may call units and classes. The units are defined by interrelation in terms of extent: unlike a system of classes, whose terms are both collectively exhaustive and mutually exclusive, the single system of units forms a hierarchy in descending progression, such that each term is defined as n times the succeeding term, that is, as consisting of one or more members of the succeeding term (exponentially, every exponent of a given unit is statable either as (coextensively) a single exponent or as a sequence of exponents of the unit next in succession).

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A grammar of Lower Grand Valley Dani by H. Myron Bromley


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