This work represents the outcome of a position for postdoctorate study which I was lucky enough to obtain at the University of Oldenburg. I am grateful to the Faculty of Language and Literature for creating an atmosphere in which it was a pleasure to work. In particular, my counsellor Winfried Boeder has given me the requisite intellectual freedom while at the same time gently pushing me to broaden my horizon. I have greatly benefited from the many discussions in which he brought home to me the overall importance of the cross-linguistic and historical perspective. Without his knowledge and expertise in these areas, I in all probability would not have striven as hard for the symbiosis of synchrony and diachrony. The cross-linguistic perspective led me to rely on a number of native speakers. Hans Beelen compiled the list of noun/verb pairs in Dutch. Roelien van der Molen and Arie Sturm patiently answered my questions to help me understand what was wrong with my analysis. Hassan Abd-El-Jawad provided data and translations from Arabic. A special word of thanks is reserved for Heinz Grotzfeld, without whom the predictions concerning Arabic verse may have remained untested. He used a bout of illness to my advantage and helped me tremendously in my analysis of Arabic rhymes. Also, I wish to express my appreciation to Joe Stemberger whose work has been a continuing source of inspiration for me. On the more technical side, I was fortunate enough to find in Klaus Ritter a librarian who in times of austerity managed to fulfil almost all of my requests. Marcel Bingley furnished invaluable quantitative information by tapping the CELEX database for me during my stay at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Nigel Isle has undertaken the heroic effort of ploughing through the whole manuscript to smooth my non-native English. I will not forget this period of ideal cooperation. My daughter Stefanie, Andreas Kraft and Stefan Otte helped me with the printouts. Last but not least, Reinhard Wolf has accomplished the miracle of converting me not into a computer addict but into someone who is beginning to let go of his misgivings about these devil's playthings. The written version has greatly benefited from the detailed and thoughtful reports of Winfried Boeder, Ernst Burgschmidt, Pim Levelt and an anonymous Oxford University Press reviewer. All of the above-mentioned deserve more gratitude than I can express in words.