Is linguistics a real science?

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

FlatAssembler
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:42 pm UTC

Is linguistics a real science?

Postby FlatAssembler » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:20 pm UTC

Hey, guys!
So, on another forum, I got into a discussion of whether linguistics is a real science.
https://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopi ... 613#p42530
My nickname there is Teo123.
So, what do you think about that issue? As you can see by reading the last few posts in that thread, I think that saying linguistics is not a real science is an insane and a profoundly anti-scientific assertion.
The real question is where people get this nonsense from. I got a comment saying that years ago on yet another forum, I just didn't pay much attention to it. It appears as though quite a few people believe that.

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3249
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:44 pm UTC

Linguistics is multidisciplinary. Most linguists don't have a background in science, but some do. Since it focuses on the details of human culture, it is more of a social science (like archaeology) than a natural science (like chemistry). It's still "real".

Meticulac
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:59 pm UTC

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby Meticulac » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:38 pm UTC

Linguistics is a useful area of knowledge, helping us mantain the consistant meaning of formal statements over time, itself a crucial aspect of the sciences. So really, it's a choice of whether to classify it as a sceince, or define science such that useful bodies of knowledge that science relies on are derived entriely from outside of it. I've no strong feelings on this taxanomic choice, though I should point out that the latter would play directly into the hands of chaos magicians.

User avatar
Heimhenge
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 11:35 pm UTC
Location: Arizona desert

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby Heimhenge » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:50 pm UTC

Yeah, I'd put it in the category of "social science" because it's not a data-intensive as the hard sciences. But it's still definitely "science" in the sense that it asks and answers questions, uses hypotheses and models, and can make predictions.

If you don't buy the "predictions" part, I just read an article that predicted the plural second person pronoun "Y'all" would soon fill a gap in the English language, same as using "they" as a gender neutral pronoun is doing. Some writers are even arguing for its acceptance:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainme ... ll/473277/

How long till it gets officially added into the dictionaries is a matter of usage, but linguists pick up on these trends and predict acceptance or obsolescence. Is that not the Scientific Method?

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3249
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:17 pm UTC

"Y'all" is surely already in every general English dictionary worth its salt.
Last edited by Eebster the Great on Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Heimhenge
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 11:35 pm UTC
Location: Arizona desert

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby Heimhenge » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:39 pm UTC

Yes, but it's always flagged as a "southern US regional" thing. I think what the article was talking about was putting it in the same class as "you're" or "they'll" or "I'm " as an established and accepted contraction.

User avatar
ConMan
Shepherd's Pie?
Posts: 1683
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:56 am UTC
Location: Beacon Alpha

Re: Is linguistics a real science?

Postby ConMan » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:02 pm UTC

"Linguistics" is such a broad field that it intersects with major swaths of both "natural" and "social" sciences - at one end, you have studies looking at how different evolutionary pathways in species resulted in the ability to make different kinds of sounds and using medical imaging technology to examine the relationship between the way bits of your vocal tracts move and the frequencies that show up when you say different words; at another end, you have people looking at the the varying meanings of the word "gay" across different generations, or the cultural and historical development of emojis.

All of those fields still develop experiments, collect data, and apply statistical analysis to draw conclusions and test hypotheses. They're all scientific, it's just that some of the science is more like what you'd call "hard science" if you were so inclined, while some of it isn't. If you think that linguistics is just figuring out how to write words in IPA or philosophically musing about how "library" and "liberty" sound kind of similar, then you don't understand what it really is.
pollywog wrote:
Wikihow wrote:* Smile a lot! Give a gay girl a knowing "Hey, I'm a lesbian too!" smile.
I want to learn this smile, perfect it, and then go around smiling at lesbians and freaking them out.


Return to “Language/Linguistics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests