The Social and Psychological Contexts of Language

The Social and Psychological Contexts of Language

The Social and Psychological Contexts of Language

The Social and Psychological Contexts of Language

Excerpt

St. Robert N. Clair University of Louisville

Howard Giles University of Bristol

The various essays that comprise this volume are an outgrowth of an Interdisciplinary Conference on Linguistics organized by Robert St. Clair. The rationale for the conference was to provide a forum in which scholars from a wide range of language-related sciences could openly speculate about the intellectual frontiers of their disciplines, impart their insights regarding language to others, compare experimental data, investigate methodological differences, and attempt to develop a nascent synthesis about the interdisciplinary nature of language from a metatheoretical level.

The conference, and consequently the structure of this volume, was predicated on several assumptions about how interaction develops across autonomous disciplines. The first assumption is that academic disciplines emerge through a dialectual process that results in the development of a scientific paradigm (Kuhn, 1970). The implications of this model for linguistic historiography and for interdisciplinary research, in particular, are numerous and merit recapitulation. According to this framework, science is not to be equated with the mere accretion of data and laws. Scientists do not add new theories or discoveries to their existing repertoire of accomplishments. What normally occurs in the history of science, Kuhn argues, is a change of intellectual commitments to a new theoretical perspective: that is, scientists participate in theoretical revolutions. This transition from the old model to a new one is initiated, Kuhn notes, with normal science--that is, a state of affairs within a scientific community in which nearly all the members share the same theoretical persuasions and dedicate themselves to the same research interests. During normal science, it should be noted, anomalies in theory and application are considered to be exceptions and are either patently dismissed . . .

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