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LINGUIST List 17.3133

Wed Oct 25 2006

Qs: New and Innovative Methods in Syntactic Inquiry

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        1.    Stanley Dubinsky, New and Innovative Methods in Syntactic Inquiry

Message 1: New and Innovative Methods in Syntactic Inquiry
Date: 25-Oct-2006
From: Stanley Dubinsky <dubinskysc.edu>
Subject: New and Innovative Methods in Syntactic Inquiry


I have been commissioned to write for Blackwell’s “Linguistics and Language
Compass”, an article that surveys the current state of the art regarding
new and innovative methodologies being used for the gathering of syntactic
data. Newer methods of data collection and assessment include (but are not
limited to) experimental collection of acceptability judgments, online
sentence-processing studies, fMRI and other imaging studies, surveys of
corpora, the consideration of language variation and change, etc.

The impetus for this survey is the fact that the traditional method of
using acceptability judgments to support analyses is simply not as useful
today as it was in the past. Reasons for this are several, but among them
is the fact that newer data paradigms are often less obvious data
paradigms. And as the scope of inquiry pries further into the remote
corners of the languages we work on, so the certainty with which the
linguist can intuitively judge these facts fades into the background noise
of non-syntactic performative factors.

The article is intended to benefit the field in that it will seek to make
widely known, some of the methods being used and some of the published
literature that utilizes them. It is thereby hoped that the article will
serve as encouragement to syntacticians to move beyond the traditional
methods of analysis, and also provide a resource for them to do so.

I would therefore appreciate hearing from you if you have information that
would be relevant to such a survey. Some of the desiderata are:

• References to key articles of your own, those of colleagues, and those
that you deem to be particularly important in this regard.
• Comments on the utility (or non-utility) of methods that you have used.
• Comparisons of the efficacy of different methodologies.
• Speculations on the kind of progress that syntacticians are likely to
make by incorporating specific methods into a research program.

I will cite relevant literature to the extent that length limitations
permit, and attribute comments used in the article to those that provide
them, and post responses back to the Linguist List as appropriate.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Stanley Dubinsky

Linguistics Program
U of South Carolina

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

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