24.418, Disc: Empirical Linguistics and Mixing the Levels

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Wed Jan 23 17:50:46 UTC 2013

LINGUIST List: Vol-24-418. Wed Jan 23 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.418, Disc: Empirical Linguistics and Mixing the Levels

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Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 12:49:52
From: Marija Lepeza [lepezasto at gmail.com]
Subject: Empirical Linguistics and Mixing the Levels

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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:


Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories

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