Linguistics and Philosophy

6 06 2006

I’m off to Australia this evening (I’ll be there until July 7), and it’ll probably be a few days before I get settled in.

Anyway, until then, I was struck by this post by Mark Liberman over at Language Log, where he points out that by several measures, it seems that the field of psychology is around 10 to 100 times larger than the field of linguistics. This quite surprised me, because I was under the impression that linguistics was substantially larger than philosophy (at least, currently). I’m not entirely sure where I got this impression, because when I repeat the sorts of searches that Mark Liberman mentions there, philosophy comes out ahead of linguistics. I must have picked it up when finding papers on Google Scholar and noticing that, for instance, an important paper in philosophy like “On What There Is” or “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” have 192 and 649 citations listed each, while Grice’s two big papers get 478 and 3487 citations each. I’m sure it’s at least in part because these papers are somewhat more recent, and thus have been cited by more papers that have made it into Google’s database, but I had also thought that citations by linguists were swamping those by philosophers. It’s also possible that Google just has better coverage of linguistics journals than philosophical ones. But anyway, now I’m wondering, which discipline is larger, and how is it really possible to measure something like that?

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