Basic Linguistic Theory

From Glottopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Basic Linguistic Theory (BLT), a term coined by Robert M. W. Dixon, refers to the set of descriptive notions that is commonly used in language description.

Its status as a 'real linguistic theory' has been brought to the fore by Matthew S. Dryer, who notes that no set of descriptive notions can be entirely void of theoretical presuppositions.


  • "Typological theory is much like what Dixon (1997:128-135) calls "Basic Linguistic Theory" (though I would remove the capital letters because it is not a framework but rather a framework-neutral theory): the body of knowledge about grammar built up over the years by

analysis and comparison of different languages." (Nichols 2007:232)


The term was used by R.M.W. Dixon throughout the 1990s (if not earlier), but its first appearance in print seems to be in Dixon (1997:128).

  • "The term Basic Linguistic Theory has recently come into use for the fundamental theoretical concepts that underlie all work in language description and change, and the postulation of general properties of human languages." (Dixon 1997:128)


What is Basic Linguistic Theory?


  • Dixon, R.M.W. 1997. The rise and fall of languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nichols, Johanna. 2007. What, if anything, is typology? Linguistic Typology 11.231–238.