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444LANGUAGE, VOLUME 58, NUMBER 2 (1982) Foundations of linguistics. By Dieter Wunderlich. Translated from the German by Roger Lass. (Cambridge studies in linguistics, 22.) Cambridge: University Press, 1979. Pp. xvi, 360. Cloth $49.50, paper $13.95. [Original version published by Ronwohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1974.] Reviewed by Jens Allwood, University of Göteborg, and Osten Dahl, University of Stockholm In this English version of Wunderlich's book, a few passages have been omitted, a number of errors have been corrected, and the bibliography has been updated. According to Ws foreword (p. xi), the book 'is an attempt to outline the foundations ofa science', viz. linguistics. It consists ofthe following eleven chapters: 1, 'Introduction'; 2, 'Knowledge and argument'; 3, 'Perception , description and explanation'; 4, 'Abstraction and deduction'; 5, 'The development of deductive argument: Logic'; 6, 'The use of deductive arguments in empirical science: Theories'; 7, 'Explication'; 8, 'On the explication of the concept "Grammatical in language L'"; 9, On the explication of the concept of meaning'; 10, 'Systematic operations'; and 11, 'Language-families and grammar-families'. The main question that W sets out to answer is: 'What presuppositions (in terms of philosophy/theory of science and methodology) do we need in order to argue for or against particular scientific positions in the field?' Thus he says that his book 'is not so much an introduction to particular linguistic theories and methods as a general introduction to linguistic inquiry and its characteristic modes of thought and argument' (xii). Basically, writing such a 'Wissenschaftstheorie der Linguistik' seems quite a good idea. We are less convinced, though, that the way W has chosen to realize his aim is the best one. In our opinion, W gives neither a very clear picture of the general methodological background nor very illuminating examples from linguistic practice. In several chapters, such examples are especially scarce (e.g. Chap. 6, where two-thirds of a page is all we get of linguistic applications). Another difficulty in writing a book of this kind is the choice of audience. In spite of W's declaration that he is aiming at students who have completed at least an introductory course in linguistics (xii), we find that many parts of the book, in particular its introductory sections, presuppose too much to serve as anything but a reminder for those who already know. Also, the jumps between rather elementary expositions of theories and rather advanced critical comments on these theories do not enhance the readability of the book, however valuable the latter may be to those who understand them. A further problem concerns the delimitation of what should be treated in the book. As can be seen from the chapter headings, W wants to offer a sort of smorgasbord of topics. Anyone who writes a book of this kind faces the dilemma of ending up either with a list of topics, held together mainly by the author's perseverance or, at the other extreme, with an integrated set of topics which is too small and biased to provide the desired coverage. The ideal is, of course, to fall somewhere in the middle: a set of well-chosen topics, the interrelations of which are clearly presented, discussed, and analysed. W's REVIEWS445 book can be said to be too close to the first extreme; it would have gained from the exclusion of some areas and a more careful integration of others. We shall let what has been said thus far suffice as a general characterization of the book, and proceed to more detailed criticisms. To start with, consider Ws use ofthe central term 'knowledge' . On p. 19, he says: 'Knowledge is what has already proven itself to be relatively justified, theories have yet to be justified.' This use of 'knowledge' and 'theory' is not quite standard: information which is counted as knowledge is usually taken to be justified without qualifications—and furthermore true. Similarly, the difference between a hypothesis and a theoretical statement is that the latter is justified, whereas the former need not be. A theory then, as a system of justified statements, already has justification. W also says on p. 19 that knowledge is independent (or invariant) with respect to the forms...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 444-447
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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