Teich, Elke; Fankhauser, Peter

Aspects of Linguistic and Computational Modeling in Language Science

Flanders, Julia; Jannidis, Fotis (Ed.): The Shape of Data in Digital Humanities. Modeling Texts and Text-based Resources. (Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities). , Routledge, Taylor & Francis, pp. 236-249, New York, 2018.

Linguistics is concerned with modeling language from the cognitive, social, and historical perspectives. When practiced as a science, linguistics is characterized by the tension between the two methodological dispositions of rationalism and empiricism. At any point in time in the history of linguistics, one is more dominant than the other. In the last two decades, we have been experiencing a new wave of empiricism in linguistic fields as diverse as psycholinguistics (e.g., Chater et al., 2015), language typology (e.g., Piantidosi and Gibson, 2014), language change (e.g., Bybee, 2010) and language variation (e.g., Bresnan and Ford, 2010). Consequently, the practices of modeling are being renegotiated in different linguistic communities, readdressing some fundamental methodological questions such as: How to cast a research question into an appropriate study design? How to obtain evidence (data) for a hypothesis (e.g., experiment vs. corpus)? How to process the data? How to evaluate a hypothesis in the light of the data obtained? This new empiricism is characterized by an interest in language use in context accompanied by a commitment to computational modeling, which is probably most developed in psycholinguistics, giving rise to the field of “computational psycholinguistics” (cf. Crocker, 2010), but recently getting stronger also in corpus linguistics.