Van de Velde, Mark (to appear). Alternatives for reductionist approaches to comparative Bantu grammar. To appear in LLA.

Studies on most domains of comparative Bantu grammar are typically confronted with a huge amount of data and complex, interacting dimensions of variation. They tend to involve an initial methodological step of reducing this variation by classifying constructions, grammatical properties or entire languages into a finite set of types. This paper argues against such reductionist approaches to linguistic evidence and illustrates several methodological alternatives, one of which is here introduced as the scenario-based approach. I will argue that these alternative approaches are at least as good in managing data and finding generalisations as the reductionist approach, but that they give more reliable results and are better at discovering variation.