Abstract - Nevalainen

The Bad Data Lecture
Data in historical sociolinguistics: Small is beautiful - or the bigger, the better?
Terttu Nevalainen (University of Helsinki)

Most datasets in historical sociolinguistics are relatively small, which is often singled out as one of drawbacks of our allegedly "bad data". My lecture will compare the pros and cons of big and small datasets, but also ask whether size is all that matters. And if it is not, what else is there for a historical sociolinguist to base their work on? Here I will take my cue from Labov (1994: 25), who argues that: "Particular problems must be approached from several different directions, by different methods with complementary sources of error."

Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change, Vol. 1: Internal factors (Language in Society 20). Oxford, UK & Cambridge, USA: Blackwell.