There is a growing movement within linguistics to promote the use of ontologies for linguistic description. However, differences in terminology and underlying logic are major stumbling blocks. One way of addressing these problems is to adopt the canonical approach to typology by taking defining properties and placing them in a multidimensional space. In this way we can treat, for example, issues of whether particular constructions fit under the rubric 'agreement' or 'case' as a matter of greater or lesser proximity to a canonical ideal.
A bibliography of current work on Canonical Typology is being compiled.
This volume has appeared Brown, Dunstan, Marina Chumakina & Greville G. Corbett (eds) 2012. Canonical morphology and syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press [link to publisher's site].
In January 2009 we hosted a two-day international seminar Creating Infrastructure for Canonical Typology, which addressed the issues relevant for the theory and practice of the Canonical Typology approach. It brought together computational linguists, fieldworkers and typologists, as well as researchers working on ontologies. Some papers appeared in the volume above. The programme of the workshop was as follows (click on the title to see the abstract):
Greville G. Corbett, Surrey Morphology Group.
Canonical morphosyntactic features
Frank Seifart, Universität Regensburg.
Towards a multidimensional typology of nominal classification
Anna Siewierska, Lancaster.
Refining the canonical characterization of the passive
Nicholas Evans, Australian National University.
Some problems in the typology of reported speech: a canonical approach
Martin Everaert, Utrecht.
Canonical typology : the case of reflexivization
Irina Nikolaeva, SOAS.
Towards a typology of finiteness: a canonical approach
Andrew Spencer, University of Essex & Ana Luís, University of Coimbra.
On clitics and canons
Adam Schembri, UCL & Kearsy Cormier, UCL.
Canonical typology of person agreement: Evidence from signed languages
Irina Nikolaeva, SOAS & Andrew Spencer, University of Essex.
Canons and the Possession-Modification Scale
Dorothee Beermann Hellan, Trondheim
From Interlinearized Glossing to Standard Annotation
Alexis Dimitriadis, Utrecht
An extensible design for linguistic survey databases
Scott Farrar, University of Washington.
Using canonical typology to achieve e-Linguistics