Methods of Investigation in Contrastive Typology

Contrastive typological investigations are carried out with the help of several methods. The main one is the comparative method, which is also employed in historical and comparative linguistics. Nevertheless, the final aims of Contrastive typological linguistics and of historical and comparative linguistics differ greatly. The latter aims at establishing the parent language and the former at establishing the isomorphic (alongside of allomorphic) features, the dominant features and on their basis the establishment of structural types of languages under Contrastive investigation.

Comparing of isomorphic features and phenomena can very often be performed both with the help of the deductive and the inductive methods. The deductive method is based on logical computation/calculation which suggests all admissive variants of realisation of a certain feature/ phenomenon in speech of one or of some contrasted languages. For example, the existence of the attributive AN and NA structure word-group patterns in English and Ukrainian is indisputable. Cf. : the green pasture the pasture green (Byron), зелене пасовисько пасовисько зелене. Common are also the dAN and the dDAN patterns in English and Ukrainian (eg: that nice book, that very interesting book та гарна книжка, та дуже гарна книжка). Rarer, though quite possible, are also ANd or DANd patterns word-groups, eg: dear lady mine, very dear lady mine; дорога сестро моя, сестро дуже дорога моя.

Ukrainian word-groups of both these patterns regularly occur in speech. Cf. гарна книжка ця, дуже гарна книжка ця. The deductive computation helps find some other transforms of the ANd pattern with the post-positional pronoun determiner as in the word-group "nice young sisters of his" or "a brave deed of hers" which are impossible in Ukrainian, where a prepositional pronoun or noun displays a strong objective relation (Cf. гарна книжка ця від мене/була для дітей, добра звістка така найшла тоді його в шпиталі).

Consequently, the deductive method of analysis can be rather helpful in Contrastive typological investigations, and not only when contrasting syntactic level units or phenomena.

Much more often employed in Contrastive typology is the inductive method which needs no verification whatsoever, since the investigated feature/phenomenon was proved already by the preceding generations of researcher linguists. Due to this the reliability of the results or data provided by the inductive method is indisputable. An example of thus obtained results may be the qualitative characteristics of vowels in some European languages (Table 1). These results had been obtained by the preceding researchers long ago and are simply taken from the corresponding phonetics bona fide by everybody interested in the nature of vowel sounds in the mentioned languages.


Language Quality front English Ukrainian Russian French German Spanish
+ + + + + +
central + - + - + +
back + + + + + +
long + - - + + +
diphthongised labialised + + + + + + + + +
nasalised + - - + + +

open covered syllable and the other is a consonantal CC syllable. At the morphological level the ICs method helps establish the componental morphemes in words of the contrasted languages. Thus, the noun writings consists of three ICs: writ/ing/s i.e. a root morpheme (writ), a suffix (-ing) and the ending (-s). A similar ICs analysis can be observed in Ukrainian. Thus, the noun земляни splits into the following ICs: зем/-л-/ян-/-и; the first morpheme /зем/ is the root morpheme, the second and the third /-л-, -яв-/ are suffixal morphemes and the fourth (-й) is the inflexion.

At the syllable level this noun splits into as many syllables as there are vowels: зем-ля-ни, though the syllabification of this noun may depend upon the speaker's stress: зем-ля-ни or зе-мля-ни, both variants being linguistically justified in Ukrainian. The ICs method is often employed to single out constituent parts of the syntactic level units both at sentence level and at word-group level. Thus, the sentence He learns many new words every week can be subdivided into the following constituent word-groups: 1) He learns (predicative word-group); 2) many new words (attributive word-group); 3) every week (adverbial word-group). At word-group level a further splitting is observed : He / learns; many / new// words; every/ week. The Ukrainian equivalent of this sentence has the same types of word-groups with the identical division into ICs: Він/ вивчає; 2) багато/ нових// слів; 3) кожного / тижня.

3. The transformational method is more often employed than the ICs method. Also it is more helpful when identifying the nature of some language unit in a contrasted language. Its reliability is clearly proved through translation, which is always the best transformation of any language unit. In short, any transformation is a form of expressing some definite meaning. The simplest transformation is transcoding (перекодування іншими буквами). Cf. in English: Leeds, Liverpool (in Latin letters) and Лідс, Ліверпуль in Cyrillic or any other letters. The transformational method is employed: a) to identify the nature of a language unit in the source language or in the target language. Thus, the type of the Ukrainian sentence Знаю, прийду, may be understood and treated differently: 1) as a definite personal sentence with two homogeneous predicates; 2) as a definite personal main sentence (why shall I come?) because (I know it) or 3) as two co-ordinate definite personal clauses with the causal implicit meaning. When translated into

English (i.e. transformed), this sentence acquires the following structural form: / know it and I shall come. Therefore, the original Ukrainian variant Знаю, прийду, may be identified as a definite personal sentence with two homogeneous i.e. co-ordinate clauses corresponding to (Я) знаю and (і я) прийду.

b) Transformation may reveal the difference in the form of expression in the contrasted languages. Cf. Вас запрошують взяти участь у науковій конференції (an indefinite personal sentence, active voice), which has for its equivalent in English You are invited to take part in the scientific conference (i.e. a definite personal sentence with a passive voice verbal predicate). Transformation may often be required by the peculiarity of the syntactic structure of the source language (or the target language) unit. Cf. The lesson over, all students went to the reading-hall. Після того, як заняття закінчилися (Оскільки заняття закінчилися...) or into a prepositional noun, expressing time: Після закінчення занять студенти пішли... The nominative absolute participial construction The lesson over (i.e. being or having been over) has to be substituted i.e. transformed into an adverbial clause of time or cause (Після того, як заняття закінчилися/ Оскільки заняття закінчилися, всі студенти пішли до читальні).

Transformation may also be lexical, as in the following sentences: He is not unlike his father Він схожий на свого батька; or Dick was running in the yard in his shirt sleeves Дік бігав на подвір'ї без піджака (в одній верхній сорочці).

Apart from these some other methods of analysis are helpful for the establishment of structural or semantic isomorphisms and allomorphisms in the contrasted languages. Among these is also the Contrastive linguistic method, which is usually employed to investigate a restricted number of genealogically related or non-related languages. The object of Contrastive linguistics in general is the meaning, form and functioning of certain language units, their features or phenomena [10]. Unlike Contrastive typology, Contrastive linguistics does not treat language features or phenomena with the aim of establishing isomorphic or allomorphic features and universals. Divergent features and phenomena in the languages under Contrastive linguistic investigation are considered to be irregularities or exceptions to some general rules. The aim of Contrastive linguistics has

never been to establish systemic relations on a global scale, or to establish universal features. Despite all this, the Contrastive linguistic method, when employed both synchronically and diachronically, provides the establishment of valuable theoretical and practical results [21; 23] providing the reliable data on various aspects of languages under investigation. Contrastive linguistics contributes greatly both to the aspect and charactereological typologies of the investigated languages.

Some purely typological methods of Contrastive investigation have recently been suggested as well. Among the best known is the indexes method by the American linguist Joseph Greenberg. The method helps identify the quantitative co-occurrence or frequency of some feature or phenomenon in the contrasted languages. J. Greenberg selected some passages, among them one English and one Russian, each containing one hundred notional words and subjected them to various typologically relevant analyses. The parameters of his computations were as follows:


1. The degree of synthesis in the words. Thus, when the morphemes are lettered as M and the number of words in the passage as W, the M/W- ratio will express the synthetic structure index, which is in English between 1.62 to 1.68.

2. The second parameter constitute the ways in which various mor phemes are joined in English notional words. Since one of the main ways in English is agglutination (lettered as A), it gives in relation to this kind of juncture (lettered J) an A/J ratio reflecting the degree of cohesion between the morphemes in these notional words. It goes without saying that the higher the index, the greater the role of agglutination and the lower their fusion (i.e. synthetism) in any language.

3. The productivity degree of the form-building morphemes constitutes the third parameter. When the number of root morphemes is letterd as R, the number of words in the text as W, the R/W ratio will express the index of derivation. This index proves that the higher the number of root morphemes making the notionals, the lower is the degree of form-building in the system of words in the contrasted language.

4. The quantity of derivational morphemes (D) in direct relation to the number of words (W) in the text gives the D/W ratio indicating the word- forming capacity of a language.

5. The fifth parameter characterises the correlation of affixal morphemes in their relation to the number of words. So, the P/W ratio constitutes the index of prefixation and indicates the correlation between the number of prefixes and the number of words in the text.

6. Similarly, the S/W ratio with the letter S standing for suffixal morphemes will be the index of suffixation in the words of the text.


7. Finally when accidence, i. e. genuine form-building is lettered as Pi, then the Pi/N- ratio will designate the index characterising the form-building capacity of words in the language.

8. Consequently, when the synthetic agreement is lettered as Co (concord), the Co/N ratio will represent the index of concord i.e. grammatical agreement in the selected by the researcher passage/text. It should be added in conclusion that J. Greenberg's indexes have been analysed and proved to be true by different linguists in some European countries. Some linguistics as V. Kroopa in Slovakia have even further elaborated and improved the method by substituting the lettered indexes for the digital gradation from zero (0.3, 0.5 etc.) up to 1 (one).

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