Brown Bag--"Are two theories better than one? A historically contextual approach to explaining cross-linguistic universals"

Alicia Chatten

Formalism and functionalism are both lively and robust in contemporary linguistic research, and they have proven to show strengths in different areas. There is, of course, disagreement to which school of thought is the best for describing language as a whole. Building on observations of many scholars, I argue that perhaps it is the case that adopting a combination of both is the best way to approach linguistic theory. Using both would require a particularly clear understanding of the distinction between the two and a careful teasing apart of what effects might be due to which kinds of factors, so having a clear understanding of the two distinct theoretical frameworks is the first step to gaining this level of understanding.