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Social Sci LibreTexts

1.1: Linguistics is Science

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  • This unit introduces the idea of thinking scientifically about language by making empirical observations rather than judgments of correctness.
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    1. What does it mean to say that Linguistics is a science?

    • The field consists of a set of true facts that can be proven objectively.
    • The field uses the scientific method to determine objective rankings of language quality.
    • The field uses empirical observations to develop theories of language behaviour.

    2. Each of the following sentences represents something someone might say about language. Which of them illustrates a descriptive view of language?

    • The use of quotative like in sentences such as, “She was like, I can’t believe you did that!” began to enter Canadian English with the generation of speakers born in 1971.
    • The song “I can’t get no satisfaction” should really mean that “I can get some satisfaction” because two negatives always make a positive.
    • In a phrase like, “the people who the bride invited to the wedding,” it’s proper to use whom rather than who.

    3. Which of the following kinds of data would a linguist be likely to observe?

    • Which method is most effective to help a child stop stuttering.
    • Whether Korean includes tones that change the meaning of words.
    • How many undergraduates can correctly use the words affect and effect in their essays.
    • If second-language speakers can pronounce English words correctly.