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Project Member

  • Jeff Good

The linguistic typology of templates

The notion of a template has been used in a number of linguistic domains to refer to grammatical patterns where the form of some linguistic constituent appears to be well conceptualized as consisting of a fixed linear structure, whether in terms of the arrangement of its subconstituents or its overall length. The heterogenous patterns to which the term has been applied—e.g., prosodically-defined length restrictions as well complex, slot-filler morphology—make it difficult to typologize such constructions in order to determine the range of attested templatic variation and even whether the “templates” represent a coherent class of phenomena.

This project, begun at the Department of Linguistics at MPI EVA and completed at the University at Buffalo, developed new typological methods for categorizing and comparing templatic constructions, using a convenience sample of around twenty templates as foundational case studies. The study’s use of a graph-based database allowed logical dependencies among templatic properties to be effectively encoded and algorithms for comparing graphs developed in the context of work in fields outside of linguistics (e.g., bioinformatics and computer science) were adapted for linguistic typological investigation.


Good, Jeff. 2015. The Linguistic Typology of Templates. Cambridge University Press