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Laws and Theories in Quantitative Linguistics

  • According to a widespread conception, quantitative linguistics will eventually be able to explain empirical quantitative findings (such as Zipf’s Law) by deriving them from highly general stochastic linguistic ‘laws’ that are assumed to be part of a general theory of human language (cf. Best (1999) for a summary of possible theoretical positions). Due to their formal proximity to methods used in the so-called exact sciences, theoretical explanations of this kind are assumed to be superior to the supposedly descriptive-only approaches of linguistic structuralism and its successors. In this paper I shall try to argue that on close inspection such claims turn out to be highly problematic, both on linguistic and on science-theoretical grounds.

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Metadaten
Author:Peter MeyerGND
URN:urn:nbn:de:bsz:mh39-38679
ISSN:1617-8351
Parent Title (English):Glottometrics
Publisher:RAM
Place of publication:Lüdenscheid
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2002
Date of Publication (online):2015/07/14
Publicationstate:Veröffentlichungsversion
Reviewstate:Verlags-Lektorat
Tag:Ceteris paribus laws; Complexity theory; Emergence; Explanation; Language laws; Menzerath; Science theory; Word length; Zipf
GND Keyword:Zipfsches Gesetz
Volume:2002
Issue:5
First Page:62
Last Page:80
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 410 Linguistik
Linguistics-Classification:Quantitative Linguistik
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG