The use of child language in linguistic argumentation: Some methodological considerations

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Two types of linguistic evidence are generally used in linguistic argumentation: internal evidence and external evidence, the former including the distribution of linguistic forms and the syntactic/semantic properties of various representations, and the latter drawing data from child language, language change, language processing, and language disorders. On one level, child language data can provide illustrations, explications, and interpretations of a particular linguistic theory; on another level, child language can provide an empirical basis for linguistic analysis, confirming a particular theory or hypothesis, and in turn facilitate the construction of linguistic theory through the discovery of new regularities. This paper reviews a number of classic studies to observe how child language data should be used in linguistic argumentation, with an aim to explore methodological requirements. The interaction between child language evidence and linguistic argumentation is complex, and one cannot simply rely on the relative precedence or relative difficulty of particular forms as crucial evidence for a particular analysis. Specifically, this paper will critically assess the claim that child language supports the recent syntactic proposal that verbs are a subclass of nouns in Chinese, pointing out its inadequacies and its invalidity.



linguistic theory, methodology, child language acquisition, nouns, verbs


Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. "The use of child language in linguistic argumentation: Some methodological considerations." Buckeye East Asian Linguistics, vol. 4 (May 2019), p. 1-20.