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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: Hulst, Harry

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On the status of linguistics with particular regard to typology

Gilbert Lazard1

1.

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review. Volume 21, Issue 3-4, Pages 389–411, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: 10.1515/tlir.2004.21.3-4.389, July 2005

Publication History

Published Online:
2005-07-27

Abstract

It seems that a need for clarifying the theoretical basis of linguistics is presently more or less widely felt. The aim of linguistic theory is to specify in what ways natural languages differ and in what ways they are all alike. This article advocates a kind of structuralist functionalism inspired by the Saussurean doctrine, which is claimed to be apt to help linguists to get a clearer view of what they are doing in contradistinction to other cognitive scientists, and to bring linguistics closer to the status of a science. In particular, the main problem of typological research and the quest for empirical universals, which is the lack of an objective independent standard for comparing languages, is examined and a way out of that difficulty is suggested. In conclusion, a few thoughts are given to the question of how explanation is or should be conceived in linguistics.

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