Essays on Grammatical Theory and Universal Grammar

Essays on Grammatical Theory and Universal Grammar

Essays on Grammatical Theory and Universal Grammar

Essays on Grammatical Theory and Universal Grammar


This wide-ranging collection of essays provides penetrating insight into a variety of views on grammatical theory from a number of leading linguists. Contributors such as John Anderson and Jim Miller address, in different ways, the semantic basis for syntactic relations. John Alyons develops a theme underlying his work on "notional grammar"--the relationship between ontology and language. Steve Pulman's work on prepositional relatives in English, and Andrew Radford's essay on exclamative particles in modern spoken French, provide a detailed study of particular constructions in one language. The volume also contains a wealth of original work by leading figures in Universal Grammar such as Bernard Comrie on reference tracking systems, Bob Dixon on grammatical relations, Greville Corbett on gender systems, and John Hawkins on the explanation of Language Universals.


This volume and the essays in it are a tribute to Dave Kilby, who died of leukaemia in 1985, at the age of 38. The editors were all friends and colleagues of Dave at Essex University. Many of the contributors also knew Dave as a friend, student, teacher, or colleague, as well as through his published work. The articles all address, in different ways, the three themes Dave was most concerned with. First, the issue of how, and how far, syntactic categories and relations can be grounded in broadly semantic concepts (Kilby 1973, 1976a, 1977a, 1977b, 1981). Second, the search for linguistic universals, and the study of language typology (Kilby 1977b, 1982c, 1982a). Third, descriptive linguistics, and the description of particular languages, especially Russian, English, and the languages of the Caucasus (Kilby 1974, 1982b, 1984).

Before coming to Essex as a lecturer in 1973, Dave had been a student of Russian at the University of Birmingham, and a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral thesis, subsequently published as Deep and Superficial Cases in Russian (Kilby 1977a), was devoted to the study of case in Russian.

In later years, his primary interests were in descriptive linguistics, especially language universals and language typology, and he was a well-known figure in this field, having written a number of important articles and a textbook on English Descriptive Syntax and the English Verb (Kilby 1984), and co-authoring an introductory book on Linguistics, Foundations of General Linguistics (Atkinson,Kilby, and Roca 1982). Despite the lasting quality and importance of the work he did, he was still far from realizing his full potential. At the time of his death he was working on a book on Universal Grammar based on lectures given at Essex, which would have further established his reputation as one of the best descriptive linguists of his generation.

It was obvious to everyone who worked with him that Dave had a rare combination of qualities: a penetrating intellect of extraordinary speed and clarity, a wide range of knowledge, an apparently inexhaustible supply of patience and understanding, and an equable . . .

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