[Lingtyp] spectrograms in linguistic description and for language comparison

Christian Lehmann christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Mon Dec 5 08:48:04 UTC 2022

Dear Jürgen,

I am not sure how many members of this list would wish to continue this 
discussion. Anyway:

For something to count as proof in a science means that it corresponds 
to a certain pattern of argumentation by the methodological standards on 
which scientists have agreed. These patterns are different for logical 
and for empirical sciences. I feel reminded of

Kamlah, Wilhelm & Lorenzen, Paul 1967, /Logische Propädeutik. Vorschule 
des vernünftigen Redens./ Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut 

translated as:
/Logical Propaedeutic: Pre-school of Reasonable Discourse./ Lanham, 
Maryland: University Press of America, 1984.

It is true that things are more complicated in empirical disciplines 
because we have indeed to agree upon standards of validity. And to the 
extent that it is impractical to counter-check everything that a 
proponent assures his audience of, there is a portion of trust involved 
in scientific discourse of an empirical discipline.

Things work the Kamlah-Lorenzen way if a scientific claim is a simple 
general statement of the kind 'in German, the definite article precedes 
(rather than follows) the nominal group'. To prove it, according to 
established standards of our discipline, it suffices for me to produce a 
(probatory) example of a certain kind. If you do not accept it, you may 
either operationalize my claim in such a way that what I produced does 
not count as an example or to produce a counter-example (of a 
postnominal definite article).

The claim about the affix that you use as an example is more complex 
since the issue appears to be what the correct analysis of a certain 
occurrence is. This would have to be broken down into a set of simpler 
statements in order to be tractable by Kamlah & Lorenzen.


Am 04.12.22 um 05:26 schrieb Juergen Bohnemeyer:
> Dear Christian – I stand corrected! Thanks for the link, I think it’s 
> great that you’ve looked into this issue. I sincerely wish more people 
> had.
> And I think I agree with the policy you propose. But allow me to 
> elaborate just a little.
> Now, at the risk of splitting hairs, I’m afraid from where I look at 
> things, ‘probatory example’ is an oxymoron.
> There’s nothing an example could prove. In fact, there’s no such thing 
> as proof in science. Proof only exists in math, including in logic.
> The closest equivalent to proof in science is hypothesis testing.
> Can an example ever be said to serve as a test of a hypothesis?
> Let’s say the author is aiming to adjudicate between two competing 
> analyses. One predicts that a certain affix will appear in a certain 
> environment, while the competing analysis predicts that it won’t. Then 
> the author produces an example that instantiates the relevant context, 
> and features or doesn’t feature the affix, thereby confirming one 
> prediction or the other.
> Under such conditions, the example in question can assume a role 
> similar to that of hypothesis testing in experimental science.
> But then immediately validity concerns analogous to those in 
> experimentation will present themselves. Such as:
>   * Internal validity: Was the example correctly analyzed and coded?
>     Is the occurrence of the affix in question actually conditioned
>     solely by the factors the competing hypotheses assume, or could it
>     also be conditioned by other factors?
>   * External validity: Is the example reproducible with other members
>     of the speech community? Assuming there are any left!
>   * Ecological validity: Does the example actually reflect the
>     everyday linguistic behavior of speakers of the language
>     (/doculect)? Assuming there still is everyday use by the members
>     of the community!
> As I see it, the recommendations your webpage makes for documenting 
> the conditions under which a ‘probatory’ example was recorded go some 
> way toward addressing concerns with external and ecological validity.
> But the biggest challenge for addressing such concerns is in my view 
> that we haven’t developed standards for assessing and reporting the 
> empirical basis for our descriptions – the speakers we collect the 
> data from, and how well they/it represent(s) the speech community, or 
> which speech community it represents.
> Best -- Juergen
> Juergen Bohnemeyer (He/Him)
> Professor, Department of Linguistics
> University at Buffalo
> Office: 642 Baldy Hall, UB North Campus
> Mailing address: 609 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260
> Phone: (716) 645 0127
> Fax: (716) 645 3825
> Email: jb77 at buffalo.edu <mailto:jb77 at buffalo.edu>
> Web: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jb77/ 
> <http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jb77/>
> Office hours Tu/Th 3:30-4:30pm in 642 Baldy or via Zoom (Meeting ID 
> 585 520 2411; Passcode Hoorheh)
> There’s A Crack In Everything - That’s How The Light Gets In
> (Leonard Cohen)
> -- 
> *From: *Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf 
> of Christian Lehmann <christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de>
> *Date: *Friday, December 2, 2022 at 10:18 AM
> *To: *lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org 
> <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [Lingtyp] spectrograms in linguistic description and 
> for language comparison
> Dear Jürgen,
> to mitigate a bit your pessimist opinion of the methodological 
> situation of our discipline, let me mention, as a contribution to the 
> discussion you are requiring, my web page
> https://www.christianlehmann.eu/ling/ling_meth/ling_description/representations/?open=example.inc 
> <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.christianlehmann.eu%2Fling%2Fling_meth%2Fling_description%2Frepresentations%2F%3Fopen%3Dexample.inc&data=05%7C01%7Cjb77%40buffalo.edu%7C7fe4ba1414394757470008dad4783cd7%7C96464a8af8ed40b199e25f6b50a20250%7C0%7C0%7C638055911006309971%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=VXi3oaBXPpkSUjObO9z%2Bg0ZPyvILV%2FkhMGG441T56L8%3D&reserved=0>
> which advocates a distinction between
>  1. a probatory example (which is data used as scientific evidence)
>  2. and an illustrative example (or pedagogical example, which is only
>     meant to render a descriptive statement more concrete and, thus,
>     to help understanding).
> Methodological standards for these two kinds of examples are 
> completely different. On #1, I may recommend:
> Lehmann, Christian 2004, “Data in linguistics.” /The Linguistic 
> Review/ 21(3/4):275-310. 
> <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fpublication%2F249931781_Data_in_linguistics&data=05%7C01%7Cjb77%40buffalo.edu%7C7fe4ba1414394757470008dad4783cd7%7C96464a8af8ed40b199e25f6b50a20250%7C0%7C0%7C638055911006309971%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=UI%2BLyj4NP2pzzyidgM3Z5nh72VJP%2FHCQl1UjmMWsRRI%3D&reserved=0>
> Best,
> Christian
> -- 
> Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
> Rudolfstr. 4
> 99092 Erfurt
> Deutschland
> Tel.:
> +49/361/2113417
> E-Post:
> christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
> Web:
> https://www.christianlehmann.eu 
> <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.christianlehmann.eu%2F&data=05%7C01%7Cjb77%40buffalo.edu%7C7fe4ba1414394757470008dad4783cd7%7C96464a8af8ed40b199e25f6b50a20250%7C0%7C0%7C638055911006309971%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=HAeLu5NMoRkuDSO7t0wiYIxRVXp7%2FCh1yAPK8ixnqR0%3D&reserved=0>


Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
Rudolfstr. 4
99092 Erfurt

Tel.: 	+49/361/2113417
E-Post: 	christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
Web: 	https://www.christianlehmann.eu
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