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Recursion across Domains

Book description

Recursion and self-embedding are at the heart of our ability to formulate our thoughts, articulate our imagination and share with other human beings. Nonetheless, controversy exists over the extent to which recursion is shared across all domains of syntax. A collection of 18 studies are presented here on the central linguistic property of recursion, examining a range of constructions in over a dozen languages representing great areal, typological and genetic diversity and spanning wide latitudes. The volume expands the topic to include prepositional phrases, possessives, adjectives, and relative clauses - our many vehicles to express creative thought - to provide a critical perspective on claims about how recursion connects to broader aspects of the mind. Parallel explorations across language families, literate and non-literate societies, children and adults are investigated and constitutes a new step in the generative tradition by simultaneously focusing on formal theory, acquisition and experimentation, and ecologically-sensitive fieldwork, and initiates a new community where these diverse experts collaborate.

Reviews

'In the light of recent claims according to which syntactic recursion is the defining property of natural language, this volume offers an excellent collection of contributions dealing with the issue of how to detect and define recursion across syntactic domains and different languages. Since many chapters provide a comparison between languages that have been in the focus of recent debates on recursion and indigenous languages of Brazil, the book is a 'must read' for linguists interested in the issue of recursion from a typological perspective.'

Andreas Trotzke - Universität Konstanz, Germany

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