17.638 sources on the paradigm shift

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty ) (willard@mccarty.me.uk)
Date: Thu Feb 12 2004 - 03:16:30 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 638.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 08:08:50 +0000
         From: Maurizio Lana <m.lana@lett.unipmn.it>
         Subject: Re: 17.625 sources on the paradigm shift?

At 09.58 10/02/2004, n.thieberger@LINGUISTICS.UNIMELB.EDU.AU wrote:
>Reflecting on the process of presenting this data I consider that there is
>a distinct shift in the authority of a grammar written with citable audio
>sources compared to a grammar in which sentences are provided with no
>source. When a corpus is citable it can be used as the basis for any claims
>made about the grammar of the language. The data is given in a form that
>can be accessed by others and so can be used to test claims and to provide
>additional analysis that may no have been considered in the analytical work.
>This may appear to be a common scientific method, but it is not one that
>has been followed by many linguists.

i think that what n. thieberger says is very important. in a completely
different field (textual studies) i have been thinking the same things.

once there was the authority of the scholar who, mainly on the base of his
'genius' (i use the term 'genius' very seriously) and occasionally on the
base of textual evidence, defined and stated an authoritative
interpretation of a given text, problem, passage, author, theme.
these days we have, i think, the tools (text retrieval programs, in broad
sense; and concordance programs, specifically) which allow us to study many
texts, passages, authors, themes, on the base of a complete textual
evidence. the researcher who studies using these tools can - if she/he want
- show the listeners all the evidences supporting his interpretation.

this causes a shift from the authority of the scholar to the evidence which
the researcher offers to the peers, the colleagues. given the evidence of
the textual passages, any other researcher can verify how well the
interpretation fits the data. and this way also in the textual studies we
can approach that component of the scientific method which is the
falsification: one can discuss a given interpretation on the base of those
same passages which should support it, and eventually show its weakness.

the textual studies can't be simply equated to other hard science fields
(mathematics, astronomy, and also - in different degree - physics,
chemistry, ...) but we need that an interpretation be accompanied by the
complete data which should support/show/demonstrate its quality.


Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici - UniversitÓ del Piemonte Orientale a Vercelli
via Manzoni 8, I-13100 Vercelli
+39 347 7370925

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