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Empirical Methods in Language Studies

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Edited By Krzysztof Kosecki and Janusz Badio

«Empirical Methods in Language Studies» presents 22 papers employing a broad range of empirical methods in the analysis of various aspects of language and communication. The individual texts offer contributions to the description of conceptual strategies, syntax, semantics, non-verbal communication, language learning, discourse, and literature.
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Alternatives to intuition in linguistics research

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Abstract: Much research in linguistics relies upon intuitions: either those of the researcher himself or those of speakers of the language under consideration. There are a number of reasons to think that this reliance may not always be the best way to proceed; and there are unsolved questions as to exactly whose intuitions make the most reliable data; what those intuitions actually are; and what they should be about. I begin with a short review of these debates and propose three possible alternatives to researcher intuitions: a broader based survey, a language corpus search and internet search engines. Methodological issues with all three are discussed with the help of a small scale practical investigation into two suspect intuitions provided by published linguists.

Keywords: intuition, corpus linguistics, methodology, surveys, internet search.

1. Introduction

The use of intuitions is perhaps the one thing which unites all schools of linguistics. If linguistics is interested in what speakers know about language, rather than what they actually produce during language use, then the intuitions of those speakers seem to provide the most direct line available to that knowledge. It is certainly a common practice for researchers to list examples of sentences which they consider acceptable and others, usually adorned with an asterisk, which are beyond the pale. These statements of acceptability are not usually supported by anything more than the author’s own knowledge of the language. Nothing more appears to be necessary: since the statement is not...

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