- the central role attributed to the notion of frequency when it comes to explain language acquisition, second/foreign language learning, language variation and change, and last but not least, language processing (grossly simplifiying, frequency/dispersion = entrenchment); - the recognition that words are not the only meaningful elements in language but that we need to posit contiguous and non-contiguous multi-element units (grossly simplifiying, patterns = constructions); - the willingness to describe linguistic structures not in terms of constituent structures (with tons of empty elements) but in terms of linear units and other non-classical constituents; - the assumptions that language is inherently symbolic (with a dimension of form and a dimension of meaning), has a social dimension, has a diachronic dimension; (WT's statement that "[f]or cognitive linguists, meaning is in the individual, monadic minds of speakers and hearers" is of course an oversimplification); - the way in which a distinction between lexical and encyclopedic meaning is abandoned; etc. etc.
I agree with Wofgang that "[corpus linguistics] is not concerned with the psychological aspects of language. It claims no privileged knowledge of the workings of the mind or of an innate language faculty." However, while I agree to this statement and respect his corpus-linguistic orientation (as outlined in his 25 theses), I also think they represent only one part of an increasingly diverse field. First, obviously not everybody might agree with Wolfgang and me on the above issues, and the degrees to which people disagree with these assumptions will be correlated with what they think corpus linguists should be doing. Second, obviously not everybody might agree with
- "Linguistics is not a science like the natural sciences whose remit is the search for 'truth'" - ; to some, it just might be exactly such a science, too; - "Linguistics belongs to the humanities" - to some, it belongs more or just as well to the social sciences; - "[corpus linguistics] is not concerned with the psychological aspects of language. It claims no privileged knowledge of the workings of the mind or of an innate language faculty." - to some (not me!), it might be concerned with just that, too; - "corpus linguistics looks at phenomena which cannot be explained by recourse to general rules and assumptions" - some, I actually dare say "many", corpus linguists might very well be interested in phenomena that can be explained with recourse to general rules.
However, regardless of which combination of positions one adopts with regard to these and countless other issues, I agree with J. Mukherjee, Andrew Hardie, and others that there is no need for sweeping generalizations about what people (should) do/think and (should) not do/think that divvy up 'the field' into followers, renegades, and hijackers. After all, who wants to stand up and tell the following folks that they're not doing REAL corpus linguistics?
- the corpus-based grammaticalization researcher who uses her colligations to study 'general rules' of language change; - the language acquisition researcher who does believe that "[corpus linguistics] is not concerned with the psychological aspects of language", but who uses his concordance results to, from there, study psychological aspects of the acquisition or relative clauses; - the second language learning researcher who explains observed frequencies of errors with recourse to psychological mechanisms.
And much more importantly, **what purpose does that kind of 'us vs. them' even serve** ...
STG -- Stefan Th. Gries ----------------------------------------------- University of California, Santa Barbara http://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/faculty/stgries -----------------------------------------------