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Re: Comrie's book on universals and typology

From:paul-bennett <paul-bennett@...>
Date:Monday, December 15, 2003, 20:41
>On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 14:07:45 -0500 Javier BF <uaxuctum@...> wrote. >>>_Language Universals And Linguistic Typology_ >> >>What you really need to know: It's by Comrie. Thus, it rocks. >[snip] >>It goes into a wider array of phenomena than Payne's work, including the >>famous hierarchy of colour terms, among other memorable moments. > >I haven't had the pleasure of reading through >that book yet, but I hope Comrie isn't adhering >there to that much publicized but outdated theory >of colour universals proposed by Berlin & Kay >three decades ago.
I remember that the work he presents is based on work that he calls better than previous work. However, the hierarchy given for B&K does look very like the hierarchy Comrie quotes, except ISTR the methodology was quite the reverse, i.e. show an informant a random color chip, and ask him what color it was, rather than ask him to pick out the prototypical example of a given color word. It is very possible, however, that in the years between my reading it and writing this, my memory has become confused.
>>There's a really interesting bit about the necessary and sufficient >>conditions for subjecthood, comparing English and Russian IIRC, as well >as a >>few other langs. > >Interesting. Could you offer us a summary of >those necessary and sufficient conditions that >define subjecthood?
Not without reading it again, and the book is at home, and IIRC it's quite a lengthy read. I don't think the conclusions were particularly concise, either. ISTR the question for which the answer was been sought was "is the question of whether a given language has 'subjects' and 'objects' neccesarily cut and dried?" or something in that vein. It's one of those books that I have read piecemeal, and that went back on the shelf, used only as a specific reference, usually of an example in a given language. I ought to re-read it, and more carefully this time. Paul