Observation, experimentation, and replication in linguistics

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In this paper, I propose that replication failure in linguistics may be due primarily to inherent issues with the application of experimental methods to analyze an inextricably social phenomenon like language, as opposed to poor research practices. Because language use varies across social contexts, and because social context must vary across independent experimental replications, linguists should not be surprised when experimental results fail to replicate at the expected rate. To address issues with replication failure in linguistics, and to increase methodological rigor in our field more generally, I argue that linguists must use experimental methods carefully, keeping in mind their inherent limita- tions, while acknowledging the scientific value of observational methods, which are often the only way to pursue basic questions in our field.


Original languageEnglish
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2021