, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 377-379
Date: 07 Sep 2010

Linguistics and the Vienna Circle

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How did philosophical debates about language and how to use language in philosophical inquiry influence work in linguistics, in particular debates about empiricism in linguistics? To afford fellow-linguists the means to assess this influence on their own methodological debates and to forestall what the author deems pointless disagreement, Siobhan Chapman offers a review of these debates in this book. Her thesis is that the issue of empiricism in linguistics is sensitive to different research interests. ‘Linguists working in different branches of the discipline variously conceptualize language as a form of behaviour, a mental state, a practical means of communication or a form of social interaction and display, among other possibilities. The nature of the subject matter in any area of study of course determines what count as the appropriate data to examine.’ (153) Chapman urges pluralism. By tracing neglected or so far unrecognized lineages of linguistic approaches (pragmatics, sociolin ...