Skip to main content Accessibility help

Some principles of linguistic methodology

  • William Labov (a1)


Current difficulties in achieving intersubjective agreement in linguistics require attention to principles of methodology which consider sources of error and ways to eliminate them. The methodological assumptions and practices of various branches of linguistics are considered from the standpoint of the types of data gathered: texts, elicitations, intuitions and observations. Observations of the vernacular provide the most systematic basis for linguistic theory, but have been the most difficult kinds of data for linguists to obtain; techniques for solving the problems encountered are outlined. Intersubjective agreement is best reached by convergence of several kinds of data with complementary sources of error.



Hide All
Black, M. & Metzger, D. (1965). Ethnographic description and the study of law. (AmA 67 (6) Pt 2, 141–65.)
Reprinted in Tyler, S. A. (ed.) (1969), Cognitive anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 137–65.
Bloom, L. (1970). Language development. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. New York: Henry Holt.
Bloomfield, L. (1927). Literate and illiterate speech. In American Speech 2. 432–9.
Broadbent, D. E. (1962). Attention and the perception of speech. Scientific American 206. 143–51.
Brown, R. (1970). Psycholinguistics. New York: The Free Press.
Brown, R. (1971). A first language. Mimeographed.
Carden, G. (1970). A note on conflicting idiolects. Linguistic Inquiry I. 281–90.
Chen, M. & Hsieh, H. (1971). The time variable in phonological change. JL 7. 113.
Cheng, C. & Wang, W. (1970). Phonological change of middle Chinese initials. In Project on linguistic analysis 2. 10Berkeley: University of California.
Chao, Y. (1934). The non-uniqueness of phonemic solutions of phonetic systems. In Hamp, E., Householder, F., and Austerlitz, R. (eds), Readings in Linguistics II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chomsky, N. (1961). Some methodological remarks on generative grammar. Word 17. 219–39.
Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Chomsky, N. (1966). Topics in the theory of generative grammar. In Sebeok, T. (ed.), Current trends in linguistics 3: linguistic theory. Bloomington, Ind.: Ind. University Press.
Chomsky, N. (1970). Remarks on nominalization. In Rosenbaum, P., and Jacobs, R. (eds), Readings in transformational grammar.
Cook, S. (1969). ‘Language change and the emergence of an urban dialect in Utah’. Unpublished University of Utah dissertation.
Elliott, D., Legum, S. & Thompson, S. (1969). Syntactic variation as linguistic data. In Binnick, R. et al. Papers from the fifth regional meeting, Chicago Linguistic Society. Chicago: Department of Lingustics, University of Chicago.
Gauchat, L. (1905). L'unité phonétique dana le patois d'une commune. In Aus romanisehen sprachen und literaturen: festschrift heinrich morf. Halle: Max Niemeyer. 575–232.
Gleason, H. A. Jr (1961). Introduction to descriptive linguistics (2nd edition). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Gleitman, L. (1971). The child as grammarian. Mimeographed.
Goidanich, P. G. (1926). Saggio critico sullo studio de L. Gauchat. In Archivio Glottologico Italiano XX. 6071.
Gumperz, J. (1964). Linguistic and social interaction in two communities. In Gumperz, J. and Hymes, D. (eds), The ethnography of communication. (AmA 66 (6) Pt 2) Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association. 137–53.
Harris, Z. (1965). Transformational theory. Lg 41. 363401.
Heringer, J. T. (1970). Research on quantifier-negative idiolects. In Papers from sixth regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Chicago. 287–96.
Jackendoff, R. S. (1968). Quantifiers in English. FL 4. 422–42.
Kuhn, S. M. & Quirk, R. (1953). Some recent interpretations of Old English digraph spellings. Lg 29. 143–56.
Labov, W. (1963). The social motivation of a sound change. Word 19. 273309.
Reprinted in Scott, C., and Erickson, J. (eds), (1968) Readings for the history of the English language. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 345–79.
Lakoff, G. (1970). Linguistics and natural logic. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.
Levine, L. & Crockett, H. J. Jr, (1966). Speech variation in a Piedmont community: postvocalic r. In Lieberson, S. (ed.), Explorations in sociolinguistics: sociological inquiry 36:2. Reprinted as Publication, 44 I.J.A.L. 1966.
Labov, W. (1966a). The social stratification of English in New York City. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Labov, W. (1966b). On the grammaticality of everyday speech. Paper given before the Linguistic Society of America, New York City, 1966.
Labov, W. (1969). The logic of non-standard English. In Alatis, J. (ed.), Linguistics and the teaching of standard English to speakers of other languages or dialects. (Georgetown University Monograph Series on Languages and Linguistics 22). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 144.
(Reprinted in Williams, F. (ed.), Language and poverty; perspectives on a theme. Chicago: Markham, 1970. 154191.)
Labov, W. (1970 a). Proposal for continuation of research on sound changes in progress, submitted to National Science Foundation (NSF-GS-3287).
Labov, W. (1970 b) The study of language in its social context. In Studium generale 23. 3087.
Labov, W., Cohen, P., Robins, C. & Lewis, J. (1968). A study of the non-standard English of Negro and Puerto Rican Speakers in New York City. Cooperative Research Report 3288. Vols I and II. New York: Columbia University. (Reprinted by U.S. Regional Survey, 3812 Walnut St, Eisenlohr Hall 202, Phila., PA 19104.)
Mitchell-Kernan, C. (1969). Language behavior in a black urban community. Working paper No. 23. Berkeley, Cal.: Language—Behavior Laboratory, University of California.
Morgan, J. L. (1969). On arguing about semantics. Papers in Linguistics I. 4970.
Nida, E. (1949). Morphology (2nd edition). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Osthoff, H. & Brugman, K. (1878). Preface to Morphological investigations in the sphere of the Indo-European languages I. Trans. W. P. Lehmann. In Lehmann, W. P. (ed.) (1967), A reader in nineteenth-century historical Indo-European linguistics. Bloomington, md.: Indiana University Press. 197209.
Pike, K.Phonemics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Popper, K. R.The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Basic Books.
Postal, P. (1968). ‘Cross-over constraints’. Paper given at the Winter 1968 meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, New York.
Saussure, F. (1962). Cours de linguistique générale. Paris: Payot.
Shuy, R., Wolfram, W. & Riley, W. K. (1967). A study of social dialects in Detroit. Final Report, Project 6–1347. Washington, D.C.: Office of Education, 1967.
Stockwell, R. P. & Barritt, C. W. (1961). Scribal practice: some assumptions. Lg 37. 7582.
Trudgill, P. J. (1971). The social differentiation of English in Norwich. Unpublished Edinburgh University dissertation.
Wedge, G. & Ingemann, F. (1970). Tag questions, syntactic variables, and grammaticality. In Papers from the Fifth Kansas Linguistics Conference. 166203.
Weinreich, U., Labov, W. & Herzog, M. (1968). Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. In Lehmann, W. and Malkiel, Y. (eds.), Directions for historical linguistics. Austin, Texas: University of Texas. 97195.
Wolfe, P. (1969). ‘Linguistic change and the Great Vowel Shift in English’. Unpublished University of California (Los Angeles) dissertation.

Some principles of linguistic methodology

  • William Labov (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed