A Linguistic Analysis
4 Methods of data collection and analysis
Data collection and analysis has been a widely discussed topic in linguistics. Whilst some researchers use various, and even contrasting, methodologies in their investigation of language, others condemn one approach entirely and pre- sent and support another as the only scientifically justifiable approach. As Brown and Yule (1983:270) maintain, “there is a dangerous tendency, among established scholars as among students, to hope that a particular line of approach will yield “the truth” about a problem. It is very easy to make claims which are too general and too strong.” Whilst Wolfson (1983:95) argues that “ethnographic fieldwork is the only reliable method of collecting data about the way speech acts function in interac- tion”, Labov (1972a:119) suggests, “it is not necessary for everybody to use the same methods – indeed, it is far better if we do not.” The method of data collec- tion employed in a study is clearly interwoven with the research question and it is therefore unrealistic to claim that one approach is the only scientifically justi- fiable one. Another issue of consideration is to understand what defines natural speech. Wolfson (1976:202), for example, claims that no single, absolute entity answers to the notion of natural speech, or in Stubbs (1983:225) words: “the hunt for pure, natural or authentic data is a chimera.” Wolfson (1976:202) de- clares that “if speech is felt to be appropriate to a situation and the goal, then it is natural in that context.” Wolfon’s statement is favoured, and...
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