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Linguistics as a Science - a Historical Philosophical Study (LinguisticsScience)
Start date: Sep 1, 2011, End date: Aug 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Linguistics, defined as the ‘scientific study of language’, is probably the last discipline in the humanities and in social sciences aspiring to become a science in the positivist sense. In this context, the goal of this project is to approach the scientific studies of natural languages armed with methodologies from the history of science and from the philosophy of science, as linguistics is very rarely examined from these two perspectives. This project will engage in these topics from two angles:First, it argues that applying methods from the history of science in recounting the history of linguistics in the last two centuries, from the perspective of the scientific character of this discipline, will shed interesting light on its various developments. Thus we will examine the role of the perception of linguistics as a natural science as the basis of a few turning points in the history of the field.The second part of this project focuses on contemporary linguistic, and seeks possible implementations of philosophical inquiries on linguistic theories and to explore their potential to ameliorate weaknesses in these theories. The supposition of this enterprise is that understanding the nature of a linguistic investigation and its explanatory targets, an understanding which results from the methodology of the philosophy of science, should have direct consequences on the empirical methodology. Two areas in linguistics will be studied in depth: The first involves some of the most fundamental issues in linguistics regarding the interface between the semantics (and the lexicon) and the syntax, focusing on issues related to argument realization. The second is within the field of historical linguistics, examining the concept of grammaticalization.In sum, this two-part project utilizes methodologies from various fields and requires a deep acquaintance with linguistic studies and their methodologies, philosophy of science, the history of linguistics and history of science.

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