LINGUIST List 14.208

Tue Jan 21 2003

Books: Applied Linguistics: Sampson

Editor for this issue: Marisa Ferrara <>

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  1. rwilson, Empirical Linguistics: Sampson

Message 1: Empirical Linguistics: Sampson

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 07:10:35 +0000
From: rwilson <>
Subject: Empirical Linguistics: Sampson

Title: Empirical Linguistics
Publication Year: 2002
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd		 
Author: Geoffrey Sampson, University of Sussex 

Paperback: ISBN: 0826457940, Pages: 240, Price: GBP18.99

Linguistics has become an empirical science again after several
decades when it was preoccupied with speakers' hazy 'intuitions' about
language structure. With a mixture of English-language case studies
and more theoretical analyses, Geoffrey Sampson gives an overview of
some of the new findings and insights about the nature of language
which are emerging from investigations of real-life speech and
writing, often (although not always) using computers and electronic
language samples ('corpora'). Concrete evidence is brought to bear to
resolve long-standing questions such as 'Is there one English language
or many Englishes?' and 'Do different social groups use
characteristically elaborated or restricted language codes?' Sampson
shows readers how to use some of the new techniques for themselves,
giving a step-by-step 'recipe-book' method for applying a quantitative
technique that was invented by Alan Turing in the World War II
code-breaking work at Bletchley Park and has been rediscovered and
widely applied in linguistics fifty years later.

Sampson asks why the discipline lost its way in the closing decades of
the twentieth century, showing how the reliance on 'speaker
intuitions' resulted from misunderstandings about the nature of
science, reinforced by accidents of publication history. Finally, he
discusses the distinction between aspects of human language which can
and those which cannot be investigated scientifically. Describing the
meanings of words is a different kind of enterprise from grammatical
analysis. Taking the empirical scientific method seriously means that
we must be serious about its limitations also.

Lingfield(s): Applied Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English (Language code: ENG)

Written In: English (Language Code: ENG)

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