Article published in:What Counts as Evidence in Linguistics?: The case of innateness
Edited by Martina Penke and Anette Rosenbach
[Studies in Language 28:3] 2004
► pp. 648–674
A question of relevance
Some remarks on standard languages
Data from natural languages (in contrast to, say, the results of psycholinguistic experiments) are still a major source of evidence used in linguistics, whether they are elicited through grammatical judgments, as in generative linguistics, or by collecting samples, as preferred in typology. The underlying assumption is that data are alike in their value as evidence if they occur in natural languages. The present paper questions this assumption in showing that there is a difference in the naturalness of languages because languages like German or English have originally emerged as secondarily learned written languages, that is they once were languages without native speakers. Although they are nowadays acquired as first languages, their grammars still contain inconsistent properties which partly disqualify standard languages as a source of evidence.
Published online: 14 September 2004
Cited by other publications
Grewendorf, Günther & Helmut Weiß
Van de Velde, Freek
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