Magazine article European English Messenger

Sebastian M. Rasinger. 2013. Quantitative Research in Linguistics, an Introduction, Second Edition

Magazine article European English Messenger

Sebastian M. Rasinger. 2013. Quantitative Research in Linguistics, an Introduction, Second Edition

Article excerpt

Sebastian M. Rasinger. 2013. Quantitative Research in Linguistics, An Introduction, Second Edition. London: Bloomsbury, 286 pp., ISBN 978-1-4411-8010-0.

This is the second edition of Sebastian Rasinger's introduction to the research methods used in quantitative linguistics. It is a clear and concise textbook for students with little or no background in statistical methods, and will guide the reader from the very basics on to more advanced concepts, with an emphasis on Microsoft Excel as a companion program for statistical calculations.

The book is divided into three parts. The first one is an extremely readable introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative research, including an in-depth look at statistical variables, research planning, questionnaire design, data collection and ethics. The second part is concerned with what to do with data. It is a very hands-on approach to understanding and analyzing statistical data, with easy-to-follow explanations of how statistical tests are used and for what kind of data. Both parts one and two include a diverse range of exercises for the reader to make sure they have mastered the tools they have just read about. The third part, which is quite short, provides a very useful and practical introduction to meta- analysis, a quick discussion of other tests and software, and solutions to the exercises. All in all, project design, data collection and data analysis are explained in a clear, no-nonsense, step-by-step fashion, and the reader will put the book down with a firm grounding in the fundamentals of statistics.

From a practical point of view, Rasinger's book is just that--practical. The author intelligently chose to draw his examples from actual linguistic research, which most students will probably be familiar with (for instance Labov's work on the social stratification of /r/ or Lakoffs study of women's speech). The inclusion of keywords at the beginning of chapters makes the book extremely simple to browse through when searching for a specific item; "further reading" sections at the end of each chapter, with comments from the author, are particularly useful, and chapter 11 provides handy tables of critical values for various tests.

Rasinger manages to break down statistical concepts into extremely easy-to- understand bits, which will be invaluable for those students for whom the word "statistics" is an object of dread. Never once does he lose the reader, which is a feat in itself and makes it easier to read than Johnson's 2008 Quantitative Methods in Linguistics, for instance, which would be my choice textbook for beginners, were it a little less dense. As anyone who has had to teach (or learn) statistics knows, it can be a daunting process, especially for students who fear anything mathematical. In that respect, Rasinger's book is as reader-friendly as can be. …

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