LINGUIST List 6.1399

Wed Oct 11 1995

Sum: Reference Grammars

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. AVG Project, Sum: Query on Reference Grammars

Message 1: Sum: Query on Reference Grammars

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 16:08:19 Sum: Query on Reference Grammars
From: AVG Project <>
Subject: Sum: Query on Reference Grammars

Dear linguists,

on Thu 01 June 1995, we posted a query on ideal reference grammars
(Subject: 6.754, Survey: Reference grammars) on LINGUIST List.

First of all, we have to apologize that it took us quite a long time
to evaluate all answers we received but we got eighty-two replies
and the last one was sent to us on 01 October.

This summary has the following structure:

 1) Acknowledgements
 2) The Original Query
 3) Long Version of the Summary
 4) Short Summary

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
1) Acknowledgements

We want to thank warmly once again all those people who responded to
our query. We have thanked everbody individually and we hope that we
have forgotten no one. You have done us a great favor indeed.
A listing of the names and email addresses of all respondents is
given in the long version of this summary (s. 3).

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
2) The Original Query

Our original query can be accessed at the following URL
- -------------------------------------------------------------------
3) Long Version of the Summary

The following summary is a short version. A more detailed compilation
is available at the URL

Linguists who don't have www access may contact us. We will send
them the long version via email.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
4) Short Summary

4.1 Quantity

Most respondents expected a good reference grammar to contain a
grammar and a lexicon. The most often named subsystems which should
be described are morphology and syntax. Examples and text corpus are
the most important kinds of data that should be found in a good
reference grammar. Furthermore, the most often expected sort of
further information is the description of language varieties.

4.2 Quality

The vast majority of respondents expect a good reference grammar to
be descriptive and to provide both synchronical and diachronical,
but primarily synchronical information. According to the answers we
received a reference grammar should not be bound to a specific
linguistic theory. Forms and functions should be described together.
The terminology used should be in the first place suitable for the
language described.

4.3 Organisation of the Grammar

The preferred order of the subsytems of a grammar is:

 Phonetics/Phonology - Orthography - Morphology - Syntax -
 Semantics - Pragmatics.

>From the simple cases to the complex ones is the most wanted
additional ordering principle that should be observed in a reference
grammar. Most respondents expect to find a table of contents and the
grammar to be organized in chapters.

4.4 Ergonomy

The most often chosen ergonomical means of a grammar are tables and
paradigms. The preferred media are books.

4.5 Importance of Parameters

The most important aspects of a reference grammar are quality and

The three most important questions in our query are:
 o Which subsystems of the language do you expect to be described in
 a good reference grammar? (1.2)
 o What kind of data do you expect to find in a good reference
 grammar? (1.3)
 o What do you expect about the theoretical background of a good
 reference grammar? (2.3)

4.6 Examples

The most often cited reference grammar is Quirk et al. 1985. A
Comprehensive Grammar of English.

4.7 Personal Information

28 respondents have field work experience. The preferred theoretical
frameworks are generative ones (GB, LFG, HPSG). Most respondents use
DOS and Windows computers.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
Best wishes

 AVG 2.0
 Institut fuer Deutsche Philologie
 Universitaet Muenchen
 Schellingstr. 3
 D-80799 Muenchen
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