Markedness pp 107-138 | Cite as

Markedness and Distribution in Phonology and Syntax

  • Jeanette K. Gundel
  • Kathleen Houlihan
  • Gerald A. Sanders


The notion of markedness has been used, in a variety of distinct but possibly related senses, for the description and analysis of phenomena involving both the syntactic and phonological structures of human languages. It has frequently been assumed that there is a single and relatively clear sense of markedness that is equally relevant to phonology and syntax alike, and this assumption, in fact, constitutes a crucial precondition for a number of general linguistic hypotheses that have recently been proposed--for example, Eckman (1977) and Comrie (1984). The basic notion of markedness, however, and a number of the most fundamental concepts associated with it--concepts such as “neutralization”, “mark”, “opposition”, “privative”, and “bilateral”--were first developed and exemplified, by Trubetzkoy (1939[1969]) and others, on the basis of phonological data alone. It thus remains to be determined whether this notion is indeed applicable in the domain of syntax or not. This paper will seek to address this question and to clarify thereby the general notion of markedness itself and its significance in the development of linguistic hypotheses.


Free Variation Relative Clause Main Clause Prepositional Phrase Subordinate Clause 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanette K. Gundel
    • 1
  • Kathleen Houlihan
    • 1
  • Gerald A. Sanders
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinnesotaUSA

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