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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

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Discussion Details

Title: Empirical Linguistics and Mixing the Levels
Submitter: Marija Lepeza
Description: In his article ''Cognitive versus Generative Linguistics: How commitments influence results'', Lakoff writes the following:

''Empirical linguistics, in itself, makes no a priori commitment as to whether these [syntax, semantics, pragmatics] are separate subfields, but takes it as an empirical matter as to whether syntax is autonomous, or whether the generalizations governing the distribution of grammatical morphemes, categories, and constructions involve aspects of semantics, communicative function, or other aspects of cognition." (1991: 53)

Isn't one of the basic tenets of Bloomfieldian/post-Bloomfieldian empirical linguistics the prohibition of mixing levels, wherein we cannot use syntactic or morphological information in defining e.g. a phoneme - its description must strictly remain within the scope of phonological analysis.

What do others think, am I completely missing the point? Thank you very much for your help.

For context, there is a free copy of Lakoff, 1991:

Date Posted: 23-Jan-2013
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
LL Issue: 24.418
Posted: 23-Jan-2013

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