Dependencies in language: On the causal ontology of linguistic systems

N. J. Enfield  


Dependency is a fundamental concept in the analysis of linguistic systems. The many if-then statements offered in typology and grammar-writing imply a causally real notion of dependency that is central to the claim being made—usually with reference to widely varying timescales and types of processes. But despite the importance of the concept of dependency in our work, its nature is seldom defined or made explicit. This book brings together experts on language, representing descriptive linguistics, language typology, functional/cognitive linguistics, cognitive science, research on gesture and other semiotic systems, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics, and linguistic anthropology to address the following question: What kinds of dependencies exist among language-related systems, and how do we define and explain them in natural, causal terms?


  • Dependencies in language
    N. J. Enfield
  • Implicational universals and dependencies
    Sonia Cristofaro
  • New approaches to Greenbergian word order dependencies
    Jennifer Culbertson
  • From biology to language change and diversity
    Dan Dediu
  • Language intertwined across multiple timescales
    Processing, acquisition and evolution
    Morten H. Christiansen
  • What comes first in language emergence?
    Wendy Sandler
  • Is language development dependent on early communicative development?
    Elena Lieven
  • Dependency and relative determination in language acquisition
    The case of Ku Waru
    Alan Rumsey
  • Beyond binary dependencies in language structure
    Damián E. Blasi, Seán G. Roberts
  • Real and spurious correlations involving tonal languages
    Jeremy Collins
  • What (else) depends on phonology?
    Larry M. Hyman
  • Dependencies in phonology: hierarchies and variation
    Keren Rice
  • Understanding intra-system dependencies
    Sebastian Fedden, Greville G. Corbett
  • Structural and semantic dependencies in word class
    William A. Foley
  • On the margins of language
    Ideophones, interjections and dependencies in linguistic theory
    Mark Dingemanse


Author Biography

N. J. Enfield, University of Sydney
N. J. Enfield is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His wide-ranging research on language, culture, and cognition is based on extensive field work in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos. His books include “A Grammar of Lao” (Mouton 2007), “The Utility of Meaning” (Oxford 2015), and “Natural Causes of Language” (Language Science Press 2014).


May 17, 2017
LaTeX source on GitHub
Cite as
Enfield, N. J.. 2017. Dependencies in language: On the causal ontology of linguistic systems. (Studies in Diversity Linguistics 14). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.573773


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Details about the available publication format: PDF


ISBN-13 (15)


Publication date (01)




Details about the available publication format: Hardcover


ISBN-13 (15)