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theory (was: Re: Greenberg's Word Order Universals)

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Friday, September 15, 2000, 19:33
Robert Hailman wrote:

> Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote: > > > Never fear, your friendly neighbourhod theorist will tell you that the > > singular is the underlying form --- which he knows because he writes > > it as -plural --- and thus unmarked, so that the universal holds. > > Good ol' theorists. Always proving their theories by using the theories > in question.
What's with all this bashing of theorists? As a theorist myself, should I take offense at this? Linguistics is the only field I know where theoretical work--and even the idea that there should *be* theories--is routinely dismissed. Nobody would seriously suggest that physicists or chemists or psychologists or economists should confine themselves to the collection of data and avoid positing theories to explain that data. Why should linguistics be any different? If you don't make theories, you're not doing science. Isn't linguistics supposed to be a science? Anyway--as somebody said the last time this issue came up--it's impossible to talk or think about language without assuming some sort of theoretical framework, however rudimentary. Even everyday notions like noun, verb, clause, morpheme, singular & plural, etc., are theoretical constructs. Sorry to respond to a couple light-hearted jabs with a serious rant, but sometimes the anti-theory bias on this list really gets to me. I'll shut up now. Matt.