Abstract

Abstract:

While published linguistic judgments sometimes differ from the judgments found in large-scale formal experiments with naive participants, there is not a consensus as to how often these errors occur nor as to how often formal experiments should be used in syntax and semantics research. In this article, we first present the results of a large-scale replication of the Sprouse et al. 2013 study on 100 English contrasts randomly sampled from Linguistic Inquiry 2001–2010 and tested in both a forced-choice experiment and an acceptability rating experiment. Like Sprouse, Schütze, and Almeida, we find that the effect sizes of published linguistic acceptability judgments are not uniformly large or consistent but rather form a continuum from very large effects to small or nonexistent effects. We then use this data as a prior in a Bayesian framework to propose a small n acceptability paradigm for linguistic acceptability judgments (SNAP Judgments). This proposal makes it easier and cheaper to obtain meaningful quantitative data in syntax and semantics research. Specifically, for a contrast of linguistic interest for which a researcher is confident that sentence A is better than sentence B, we recommend that the researcher should obtain judgments from at least five unique participants, using at least five unique sentences of each type. If all participants in the sample agree that sentence A is better than sentence B, then the researcher can be confident that the result of a full forced-choice experiment would likely be 75% or more agreement in favor of sentence A (with a mean of 93%). We test this proposal by sampling from the existing data and find that it gives reliable performance.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 619-635
Launched on MUSE
2016-09-09
Open Access
No
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