Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
Advancing Linguistics Between the Extremes:
Some thoughts on Geoffrey Sampson's Grammar without Grammaticality


W. Detmar Meurers


Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 3(1), 2007. 49–-55.


This commentary on Geoffrey Sampson's article in the same issue (which is available from his web site) argues that linguistics needs a plurality of methods, including but clearly not limited to corpus research. Below is the concluding paragraph of the article - to interpret the last sentence one might have to read the full article, linked below ;-)


Arguably the biggest mistake of generative linguistics was to throw out most sources of empirical evidence, from rejecting the use of corpora to downplaying the relevance of historical linguistic evidence or observations about variation in language use. Replacing the narrow generative perspective with a view that is narrowly corpus based, in which the only evidence considered is the language which happens to be used in a given corpus, would amount to replacing one half-blind extreme with another. Any single methodology can mislead, overemphasize some aspects and hide other aspects from view. So while the use of corpus data has much to contribute towards empirically grounding theoretical linguistic research, the key to a successful linguistic science lies in a plurality of methods. Mountain regions are best explored with all our senses.



Electronically available file formats:

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Note: The electronic versions of the publications linked on this page are the last versions I had the copyright for. Where a publisher copyedited and/or typeset the papers, the electronic copies linked here are NOT identical to the officially published version, which should be used for any quotes, references to page numbers, etc.



Bibtex entry:

  author    = {Meurers, Walt Detmar},
  title     = {Advancing Linguistics Between the Extremes: 
  Some thoughts on Geoffrey Sampson's 
  \textit{Grammar without Grammaticality}},
  journal   = {Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory},
  volume    = 3,
  number    = 1,
  year      = 2007,
  pages     = {49--55},
  url       = {}