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"Internal" and "External" Evidence in Linguistics

Arnold M. Zwicky
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1980, Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers (1980), pp. 598-604
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/192613
Page Count: 7
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"Internal" and "External" Evidence in Linguistics
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Abstract

A Distinction between "internal" and "external" evidence in linguistics is illustrated, and two occasions on which the distinction arises are identified: in the division of labor between linguistics and other fields, and in the choice among alternative descriptions. Assumptions which would bias generative linguists both away from and towards external evidence are explored. Examples from phonological and syntactic analyses are contrasted, and speculations are made as to why evidence should be differently used in phonology and syntax. A prescription favoring external evidence is tempered by the need for credible assumptions linking linguistics to other fields.

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