This book presents a critical overview of current work on linguistic features and establishes new bases for their use in the study and understanding of language.
Features are fundamental components of linguistic description: they include gender (feminine, masculine, neuter); number (singular, plural, dual); person (1st, 2nd, 3rd); tense (present, past, future); and case (nominative, accusative, genitive, ergative). Despite their ubiquity and centrality in linguistic description, much remains to be discovered about them: there is, for example, no readily available inventory showing which features are found in which of the world's languages; there is no consensus about how they operate across different components of language; and there is no certainty about how they interact. This book seeks at once to highlight and to tackle these problems. It brings together perspectives from phonology to formal syntax and semantics, expounding the use of linguistic features in typology, computer applications, and logic. Linguists representing different standpoints spell out clearly the assumptions they bring to different kinds of feature and describe how they use them. Their contrasting contributions highlight the areas of difference and the common ground between their perspectives.
The book brings together original work by leading international scholars. It will appeal to linguists of all theoretical persuasions.
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