The article considers the nature of descriptive statements and the ontological status of descriptive constructs in linguistics, taking the example of a phoneme of English. It is argued that descriptive statements should be seen as expressions of the content of descriptive models or as hypotheses. Furthermore, it is argued that descriptive models and constructs in linguistics have a purely explanatory function in relation to speech events and without ontological commitment to corresponding entities in the real world.
Paul Rastall, Division of Language Studies, Community College, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong
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