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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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Over twenty years ago I published a book entitled Językoznawstwo racjonalne [The Rational Linguistics]. It was an answer to questions I frequently asked myself at that time. Moreover, the same questions were asked by other linguists who had begun their scientific careers as enthusiasts of transformational grammar. These dilemmas arose for two main reasons: on the one hand, within the framework of generativism there appeared several research groups, each of them offering an original formal model; on the other hand, cognitive grammar, which has abandoned formalism and at the same time initiated explorations on territories that had been disregarded by hitherto prevailing linguistics, gradually achieved more and more renown. The major question that I asked myself was therefore a question about the choice of path that I was to follow.

I should mention that the path mapped out in the early 1980s by Noam Chomsky did not appeal to me. Neither the Principles and Parameters Theory nor the Minimalist Program convinced me, for they set off towards very vague investigations, i.e. a universal grammar. Needless to add, I considered a cognitive grammar to be even less concrete. At the same time I was fascinated by the effectiveness of the apparatus developed by Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar. But soon questions arose about the philosophical premises on which the reductive formal model of natural language was based. I tried to answer these questions in Językoznawstwo racjonalne [The Rational Linguistics].

Since then I have repeated...

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