Why I will not become a corpus linguist: The use of introspection data and corpus data in synchronic syntactic research

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Abstract

Not so long ago it seemed unnecessary to motivate the use of what is nowadays called the intuitionist approach to the study of syntax: the study of the internal structure of phrases/sentences with the help of data obtained by introspection. But times have changed, and some critics consider this approach inadequate (if not obsolete). The presupposition underlying this claim seems to be that introspection data are not empirical data and are therefore inherently inferior to corpus data based on “real language”. Fortunately, not all linguists who promote the use of corpora are of this opinion: Odijk (to appear), for instance, stresses that data from corpora and data collected in artificial experimental settings (including introspection) should all be considered empirical data: “all relevant evidence should be taken into account and no form of evidence has a privileged status.” Although I agree with Odijk’s statement in principle, this article will argue that there are reasons for assuming that introspection research is a better method for collecting synchronic syntactic data than corpus research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalNederlandse Taalkunde
Volume25
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • data collection
  • linguistics
  • intuitionist research
  • corpus research

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