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Problems of Methodology and Philosophy in Linguistics


Ireneusz Bobrowski

The book is not only dedicated to linguists, but also to readers who are not familiar with notations developed in linguistics. The first part of the study presents philosophical justifications for linguistic settlements. These are based on the phenomenological reduction of Edmund Husserl, Karl R. Popper’s falsificationism, the moderate rationalism of science of Izydora Dąmbska and Andrzej Bogusławski’s lack of the nomological explanation in linguistics. The second part presents a re-examination of the solutions proposed in the field of linguistics, some new philosophical explanations and a discussion of the truth of linguistic propositions.
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Some Further Remarks on the Evaluation Criteria of Linguistic Models


As I said before, in the process of falsifying the models of language we cannot use only our intuition, for it is unreliable. The intuitions of one researcher may be completely different from the intuitions of another. In the following subsection I will discuss the form of the rational criteria of the evaluation of grammatical models. We will depart from the already mentioned hierarchy of the three criteria proposed by L. Hjelmslev (see: Hjelmslev 1953), i.e self-consistency (or self-congruence), exhaustiveness (completeness) and simplicity.

The first criterion, i.e. the requirement of self-consistency, is doubtlessly fundamental with regard to axiomatic models. Therefore, it should be maintained. A system that is contradictory simply cannot work. A deductive system responsible for generating sentences of natural language should generate a complete set of sentences of this language; ergo exhaustiveness is another vital criterion of the evaluation of linguistic models. The criterion of simplicity, however, seems unreliable as the term is polysemic.

Simplicity may be understood both as a feature of a set of rules that belong to the deductive system and as a feature that characterizes the efficiency of these rules. Let us imagine that we must evaluate two shop assistants working in the same store. The first one is only able to add and subtract, whereas the second one can add and subtract but can also multiply and divide. If we were to value them from the viewpoint of the simplicity of the operations that they are capable...

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