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In the normal Grammar that we learn in school, we have concepts such as nouns, verbs, adverbs and so on. In some languages, certain concepts of this framework have no resembling equivalent. For eg, in Malayalam, there is no such thing as a definite article, and, in other languages, the adjectives can be turned into nouns, conjunctions as adverbs and vice versa eg: German.

This leads me to think, that the common framework of Grammatical objects would not be the best way to study every language. That is, for certain classes/ family of languges, a different classification of objects which appear in the objects would be better suited.

Has this idea ever been pursued by a linguist? What were the most important findings?

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    Probably the closest thing to this are modern experiments to recover Parts of Speech by unsupervised machine learning, with mixed results. Alas, I don't have references on this, therefore only a comment. Feb 14, 2023 at 9:47
  • Also relevant, but kind of complementary (how far can conventional parts of speech bring us): linguistics.stackexchange.com/q/12777/9781 Feb 14, 2023 at 9:49
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    I don’t really understand the question here. As you say, the specifics of which parts of speech exist are not universal – each language has its own specific set of them – but the ‘framework’, the concept that languages have parts of speech, is. We grow up learning about nouns, verbs, adjectives and so on because those are the POS that exist in our language. Other languages grow up learning different ones, which is essentially “a different classification of objects”. So what exactly is this ‘different idea’ you’re describing? Feb 14, 2023 at 11:51
  • Universal dependencies try to be, well, universally applicable. Yet, their POS tags are quite the traditional ones. Feb 15, 2023 at 11:22

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There is a long-standing popular view of grammatical analysis which uses the structure of one language (originally Latin, or contemporarily English the analysis of which was influenced by Latin), then analyzes other languages according to the categories of the standard language. Over a century ago, a competing model developed which sought to describe languages "in their own terms", especially in the works of Franz Boas and his students.

Contemporary linguistics generally accepts that there need not be definite articles or jussive moods in all languages, however we do frequently use those terms to refer to semantic properties. Bantu languages, for example, do not usually have "definite articles", but they often have complex ways of signalling definiteness, whatever that means (turns out that "definite" is a complex package deal even at the level of semantics). We frequently find, in investigating a new language, that the language may not make a grammaticalized distinction between "past", "present" and "future" tense, but all languages have tools that allow them to communicate information about the past, present and future. English has a past, but Logoori has 7 pasts, meaning distinct inflectional forms. Rather than getting swamped in a procrustean terminological quagmire, we tend to focus on describing the semantic and syntactic properties of each construction.

There have been so many results coming from the enterprise of language description following this view that it would be meaningless to claim that there is a "major result", other than to say that "languages are not defined in terms of the traditional analysis of English (Latin)".

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