LINGUIST List 7.657

Sat May 4 1996

Sum: Judgments vs performance

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. "Ingo Plag", summary of judgments vs. peformance

Message 1: summary of judgments vs. peformance

Date: Thu, 02 May 1996 08:43:47 +0200
From: "Ingo Plag" <plagPapin.HRZ.Uni-Marburg.DE>
Subject: summary of judgments vs. peformance

Subject: judgments vs. peformance

Dear listers,

two weeks ago I posted the following query on the list (slightly modified):

>We are doing research on marked word order in English with native and non-
>native speakers, using different types of data. We are currently 
>confronted with the problem that (not unexpectedly) there are striking 
>discrepancies between our subjects' acceptability judgments and their own 
>speech productions. Our query now is:
>Are there any systematic studies of such discrepancies? Any 
>comments, suggestions, references are welcome.

Here is a summary of the responses I got:

The following people responded:
Cathy Ball, Daan Wissing, Annabel Cormack, Carson T. Schutze, Mai Kuha, 
Inge de Monnink (Thanks again!)

The problem is certainly not a new one, and some respondents mentioned 
similar experiences with their own studies (e.g. w.r.t. object-NP 
fronting). Some people seem to be still struggling finding 
appropriate experimental tasks to control for the possible factors that 
may influence subjects' judgments on the one hand and subjects' 
performance on the other.

Of course one may reject acceptability judgments as evidence in general 
and solely resort to corpus material (as one of the commentators seems 
to suggest), but this kind of either-or approach is not what we (i.e. our 
project) want. Surely, all types of data have their advantages and 
disadvantages, and we are not really seeking a discussion which data 
type is _better_ (for what purpose, anyway?). Instead, we would like 
to know _what exactly_ may influence the reliability of a certain data 
type vis a vis another data type. From the responses, I gather that such a 
methodological study is still to be done... 

Literature on the multiple-tasks-approach seems rare, and only three
references were mentioned at all:

Schutze, C. _The Empirical Base of Linguistics_, U. of Chicago Press, 1996.
Labov,W. _What is a linguistic fact?_ De Ridder, 1975.
Greenbaum/Quirk (1970)

Thanks again, more comments/discussion welcome!

Ingo Plag

Dr. Ingo Plag
Institut fuer Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Philipps-Universitaet Marburg
Wilhelm-Roepke-Str. 6 D
D-35032 Marburg

Tel: 06421-285560
Fax: 06421-287020
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue