HPSG 2013

Tibor Kiss: Gauging the progress in linguistics (Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.)

In this talk, I will argue that socio-political and methodological problems lie at the heart of the decreasing progress in and success of linguistics as a field. Socio-politically, two large schools focus on empty theorizing or collecting data without theoretical guidance, respectively. Schools progress from communities in which issues can be openly discussed to communities in which certain issues have to be agreed on to communities in which certain issues are (wrongly) taken to be understood (and everybody is tenured and eventually dead). Methodologically, armchair linguistics was the order of the day prior to real progress in computation power, data collection, and experimentation. Nowadays, linguistics should rely less on armchair considerations and much more on computational data harvesting and psycholinguistic experimentation.

To support my claim, I shall discuss picture-NP-reflexives in binding theory and and the concept of obligatoriness throughout.