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Integrational linguistics

Integrational Linguistics (or IL for short) is a general approach to linguistics that has been developed by the German linguist Hans-Heinrich Lieb and others since the late 1960s. The term "Integrational Linguistics" as a name for this approach has been used in publications since 1977 and antedates the use of the same term for integrationism, an unrelated approach developed by Roy Harris. Integrational Linguistics continues being developed by an open group of linguists from various countries.

Over the past decades, IL has developed two major linguistic theories: (i) a general theory of language (the Integrational Theory of Language) that covers both the systematic features of language systems and the phenomenon of language variability in a unified way, and (ii) a theory of grammars (the Integrational Theory of Grammars), understood as part of a theory of linguistic descriptions. The separation of a theory of language from a theory of grammars is a major feature of IL by which it differs from approaches with a generative orientation. After an initial emphasis on the Integrational Theory of Grammars till the mid-1970s, work in IL has been characterized by a steady and continuous refinement of the Integrational Theory of Language based on empirical data from typologically diverse languages, avoiding basic revisions as they occurred in Chomskyan Generative Grammar.

The most comprehensive presentation of IL to date is Lieb (1983). This book contains both a theory of grammars and a general theory of language comprising a general morphology, morphosemantics, lexical semantics, syntax, and sentential semantics; a general phonology has been added by Lieb (1998, 1999, 2008). A shorter overview of the theory of language developed in IL may be found in Lieb (1992); for its syntactic part see, in particular, Lieb (1993). The general orientation of Integrational Linguistics places this approach within a 'New Structuralism' that combines careful attention to methodological soundness, emphasis on actual language description, and a cognitive outlook that leaves language structure outside the mind (Lieb 1992); at the same time, IL is closest among modern approaches to Western grammatical tradition.

  • Lieb, Hans-Heinrich. 1983. Integrational Linguistics. Vol. 1: General Outline. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: Benjamins. (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 17).
  • Lieb, Hans-Heinrich. 1992. "Integrational Linguistics: Outline of a theory of language". In: Hans-Heinrich Lieb (ed.). Prospects for a New Structuralism. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: Benjamins. (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 96). 127–182.


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