Empirical Discovery in Linguistics

Vladimir Pericliev

A discovery system for detecting correspondences in data is described, based on the familiar induction methods of J. S. Mill. Given a set of observations, the system induces the "causally" related facts in these observations. Its application to empirical linguistic discovery is described. The paper is organized as follows. I begin the discussion by revealing two developments, the transformationalists’ critique of "discovery procedures" and naive inductivism, which have led to the neglect of discovery issues, arguing that more attention needs to be paid to discovery in linguistics. Then, Mill’s methods are introduced, and the system, incorporating them, is described, using as one illustration the discovery of (a part of) the famous Germanic Consonant Shift, known as Grimm’s Law.


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