The Logic of Markedness

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Theories of language espoused by linguists during much of this century have assumed that there is a hierarchy to the elements of language such that certain constructions, rules, and features are unmarked while others are marked; play for example, is unmarked or neutral, while played or player is marked. This opposition, referred to as markedness, is one of the concepts which both Chomskyan generative grammar and Jakobsonian structuralism appear to share, yet which each tradition has treated differently. Battistella studies the historical development of the concept of markedness in the Prague School structuralism of Roman Jakobson, its importation into generative linguistics, and its subsequent development within Chomsky's Principles and Parameters framework. He traces how structuralist and generative linguistics have drawn on and expanded the notion of markedness, both as a means of characterizing linguistic constructs and as a theory of the innate language faculty.