historicallinguist Posted September 6, 2016 Share Posted September 6, 2016 Hello linguists. I know this is not much a problem for natural language semantics (formal semantics), experimental phonetics, and computational linguistics, etc (because these areas generally deal with English, or some other programming languages), but it is quite an epistemological issue particularly relevant to problems dealing with language typology and language documentation. In particular, the core of the linguistic epistemological problem lies in whether it is a valid argument to base one's result (at least partially) on something beyond the data. For example, if I am dealing with Swedish data and I happen to know Swedish (as a L2 speaker, or native speaker), is it a valid argument that say that I know X is right because I know Swedish even if there is no evidence in data suggesting X? I raised this epistemological problem to different profs. Generally, I got two camps of profs. Theoretical folks gave me a staunch no, and said that any argument about the data must be based on the data in the dataset. They reasoned that, because we are dealing with data, conclusion must be based on data, and nothing else. Sociolinguistic and anthropological linguistic folks gave me a yes, and said that it is okay to use external knowledge beyond the data as an argument for some conclusion about the data in a dataset. They reasoned that, because our knowledge about linguistic universal (they are referring to Greenberg Universals) and specific languages is part of our general knowledge about language, there is no reason why we should block our general knowledge and confine ourselves to the data in the dataset. I personally incline to the theoretical folks, but admit that the sociolinguistic and anthropological linguistic's argument worths entertaining further. What is your take on this epistemological problem? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now