In the following sections, I outline some of the conceptual and methodological aspects (meta-models) that fuel and back-up my research. I hope these will some day make it into a proper publication, after some more thorough thinking.

1 Research methods

As far as research methods are concerned, I am an enthusiastic advocate of Open Research, a term which encompasses “concepts of openness, transparency, rigor, reproducibility, replicability, and accumulation of knowledge” (Crüwell et al. 2019) put to the service of “making the content and process of producing evidence and claims transparent and accessible to others” (Munafò et al. 2017).1

I am also a supporter of the Slow Science movement, part of the broader “slow” movement (as in “slow-food”), which can be summarised with this quote from the manifesto: “We do need time to think. We do need time to digest. We do need time to misunderstand each other”.

Philosophy and science might seem two very unrelated fields, but in fact philosophy of science is an extremely important intersection of the two, with broad implications for research methods, from experiment planning, through statistical modelling, to inference. I’ll expand on this some time in the future, but for now I can strongly recommend the following books:

  • Philosophy of science: Very short introduction (Okasha 2016).
  • Understanding psychology as a science: An introduction to scientific and statistical inference (Dienes 2008).
  • The Systems View of life: A unifying vision (Capra & Luisi 2018).

2 Phonetology

In a wish to transcend the phonetics/phonology divide (Sóskuthy 2013; Ohala 1990; Ohala 2005), I refer to the set of sciences that investigate the visual systems (signing) and sound systems (speech sounds) of the world’s languages with the term phonetology (from a combination of phonetics and phonology).

Although this newly-coined term contains the Greek root phon- ‘sound’, its meaning is by no means restricted to the realm of spoken languages, as its definition makes explicit. Sign languages, and other communicative systems yet to be “discovered”, are included. The term phonetological system can be used as an umbrella term that covers both visual and sound systems.

3 Phonetological systems

A phonetological system is comprised of a set of phonetological units and their relationships. Alas, I could not come up yet with a proper definition of “phonetological unit” that would subsume units of both visual and sound systems. Thoughts on this are much appreciated.

In my view of phonetology, a phonetological system has the following properties:

I also consider these statements to be extendible more generally to linguisticality (Haspelmath 2020) as a holistic system.

4 Linguistic systems

In light of the brilliant ideas expounded in Cysouw & Good (2013) and Rooy (2021), I believe linguistics would benefit from a formalised notion of linguistic system that would encompass any kind of system, from linguistic families down to idiolects, and any type of variation.

Cysouw & Good (2013) propose a meta-model based on linguistic documentation and description. From this model, I borrow two concepts:

  • Glossonym (p. 339)

    A glossonym is a name (noun) used to refer to a linguistic system, whether a language, a lect, or a genealogically or areally related group of languages. A glossonym does not have a referent nor a significant, but rather it is just a signifier. For example, the glossonym Altaic, no actual reference is made to any linguistic entity, but only to the fact that this word has been used to refer to linguistic systems.

  • Doculect (p 342)

    A doculect (i.e. documented lect) is a linguistic entity as it is documented/described in a specific resource (book, paper, booklet, website, etc.). This term is agnostic as to the type of linguistic entity (family, language, variety, etc.). A doculect is the pairing of a glossonym and a resource. An example: [Howard (1986); mawayana].

Cysouw & Good (2013: 347) also introduce the concept of “languoid” which refers to “any (possibly hierarchical) grouping of doculects, in principle ranging from a set of idiolects to a high-level language family”.

I propose instead the term glossolect, which—unlike languoid—does not necessarily entail a strictly-nested hierarchical structure. This difference accommodates those cases where linguistic grouping is not based on clear-cut splits, but rather based on a network of shared features (cases which are possibly more frequent), in which a doculect can in fact belong to different intersecting glossolects.

A glossolect is thus a set of doculects and can refer to any of a macro-family, a family, a dialect continuum, a linkage, a language, a variety, an idiolect, etc.

In terms of types of linguistic variation, I borrow from classical sociolinguistics (references TBA):

  • Diachronic: variation in time.
  • Diatopic: variation in geographical space (less frequently used is diachoric for more restricted spatial variation).
  • Diastratic: variation based on social class and groups.
  • Diaphasic: variation based on linguistic and social context (includes registers and slangs).
  • Diamesic: variation based on the means of communication (e.g., visual/oral vs written, web vs print, etc.).

In sum:

  • A glossolect is a set of doculects.
  • A doculect is a pairing of a glossonym and a resource.
  • A glossonym is a name used to refer to a linguistic entity.
  • A resource is any object (publication, media, etc.) containing linguistic materials.
  • Glossolects can be situated within a specific diachronic, diatopic, diastratic, diaphasic, diamesic context.

References

Ambridge, Ben. 2020. Abstractions made of exemplars or You’re all right, and i’ve changed my mind”: Response to commentators. First Language 40(5-6). 640–659.
Boer, Bart de. 2015. Biology, culture, evolution and the cognitive nature of sound systems. Journal of Phonetics 53. 79–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2015.07.001.
Bybee, Joan. 2002. Phonological evidence for exemplar storage of multiword sequences. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 24(2). 215–221. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263102002061.
Capra, Fritjof & Pier Luigi Luisi. 2018. The systems view of life: A unifying vision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Crüwell, Sophia, Johnny van Doorn, Alexander Etz, Matthew C. Makel, Hannah Moshontz, Jesse Niebaum, Amy Orben, Sam Parsons & Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck. 2019. Seven easy steps to open science: An annotated reading list. Zeitschrift für Psychologie 227(4). 237–248. https://doi.org/10.1027/2151-2604/a000387.
Cysouw, Michael & Jeff Good. 2013. Languoid, doculect, and glossonym: Formalizing the notion “language.” Language Documentation & Conservation 7. 331–359. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4606.
Dienes, Zoltan. 2008. Understanding psychology as a science: An introduction to scientific and statistical inference. Macmillan International Higher Education.
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Haspelmath, Martin. 2020. Human linguisticality and the building blocks of languages. Frontiers in Psychology 10. 3056. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03056.
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Rooy, Raf van. 2021. Language or dialect? The history of a conceptual pair. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Wedel, Andrew B. 2011. Self-organization in phonology. In Ewen C. J. Hume E. van Oostendorp Marc & Keren Rice (eds.), The blackwell companion to phonology, vol. 1, 130–147. Blackwell, Oxford. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444335262.wbctp0006.

  1. Open Research is a more inclusive term than the more common Open Science term.↩︎