Acceptability judgments and linguistic competence

Kumiko Murasugi


Acceptability judgments are the primary source of data for linguistic theory, based on the assumption that they reliably reflect linguistic competence. However, this assumption has always been challenged by studies showing the influence of extralinguistic factors on the judgment process, leading to recent linguistic research employing better experimental methodology. This paper discusses the most significant finding of this research, the existence of gradient judgments, and how they have been accommodated within linguistic theories. The implications of the judgment-competence relation beyond theoretical linguistics (e.g., first and second language acquisition and psycholinguistics) are also discussed.

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