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Response to Elder-Vass: “seven ways to be a realist about language”

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)268-281
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/10/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Given that explicitly realist perspectives are currently quite unfashionable in applied linguistics, we very much welcome your thorough and careful discussion of the various forms they might take. We find the various categories you identify quite persuasive, and we find much to agree with in your characterisation of several of the positions you outline, particularly in the earlier part of the paper. However, we do take issue with aspects of your characterisation of both “social” and “linguistic systems” realism, and with some of the arguments you adduce particularly against the latter and in favour of your seventh way (“linguistic norm circles realism”). Our response, then, concentrates particularly on the challenges arising from these parts of your paper, and addresses: (1) the ways in which we may define language itself, for the purposes of this debate; (2) the distinction between social and linguistic norms; (3) the properties of language; (4) the role of empirical evidence; and (5) the methodological problems we find with the norm circle approach