Empirical Linguistics

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Containing two new chapters, with the rest consisting of updated material previously published but relatively inaccessible, this volume provides an overview of findings and insights relating to the nature of language which are emerging from investigations of real-life speech and writing, sometimes using computer and electronic language samples. Sampson (computer science and artificial intelligence, U. of Sussex, England) addresses such issues as whether there is one English language or many and whether different social groups use characteristically elaborated or restricted language codes. He also makes distinctions between aspects of human language which can and cannot be investigated and offers a detailed method for applying a quantitative technique invented by Alan Turing in the WWII code- breaking work at Bletchley Park. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826457943
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 10/8/2002
  • Series: Open Linguistics Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Sampson is Professor of Natural Language Computing at the School of Informatics, University of Sussex.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. From central embedding to empirical linguistics
3. Many Englishes or one English?
4. Depth in English grammar
5. Demographic correlates of complexity in British speech
6. The role of taxonomy
7. Good-Turing frequency estimation without tears
8. Objective evidence is all we need
9. What was Transformational Grammar?
10. Evidence against the grammatical/ungrammatical distinction
11. Meaning and the limits of science.

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