Linguistic typology is a discipline that studies linguistic diversity. Its main goal, as noted by Balthasar Bickel, is to explain “why linguistic diversity is the way it is.” Linguistic typology is interested in both differences and similarities between the languages, because these are interrelated. Since languages can differ or be similar at various levels of language structure—phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics, and so on—linguistic typology is relevant for all these domains. This entry discusses language universals; the role of a language sample; synchronic, diachronic, and areal typology; and the issue of crosslinguistic comparison.

The history of linguistic typology as a discipline goes back at least 2.5 centuries. During this period it has been shaped by numerous scholars, with Friedrich von Schlegel, Georg von der Gabelentz, Nikolai Trubetzkoy, ...

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