research methodology

Salikoko S. Mufwene smufwene at UWIMONA.EDU.JM
Mon Aug 6 23:32:46 UTC 2001


     I am now in Jamaica, far from the paper that I would like to remind you of. Haj Ross published a paper on a related topic, focusing on grammaticality judgments, about a uniform list of sentences he gave naive and linguist informants, native and non-native speakers among the linguists, non-natives living in the USA and  non-natives living abroad. His agenda was not exactly what you have conceived but comes close. I suppose that data from Jim McCawley's The Linguistic Flea Circus would be useful in this particular case.

     I am also using this opportunity to test whether I can post on this list without having to subscribe again. I am having my email to the University of Chicago rerouted to UWIMonaNet.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Arnold Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2001 3:38 PM
Subject: research methodology

| i taught a seminar this spring quarter on syntactic variation,
| in which almost all the students used standard corpora or web
| searches to find examples of particular usages.  this makes a
| great first step, but after that the students began to piece out
| pictures of clusters of idiolects, differing in many different
| details, and for this purpose, corpora alone aren't particularly
| useful, since you need to know what *isn't* natural for specific
| speakers; at some point, you have to collect judgments from
| individuals.
| some of the students are pursuing these projects further, hoping
| to do further work with specific people from the web searches
| (or from adventitious collection of examples on the fly).  has
| anyone explored this two-step methodology (finding potential
| informants in the first step of data collection, which nets people
| who have some feature, then exploring the limits of that feature
| through further data collection, interviews, judgment tasks, etc.)?
| (the amount of systematic and structured variation among individuals
| on the details of specific constructions is quite impressive, by
| the way.)
| arnold (zwicky at

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