P.R.E.S.C.R.I.P.T.I.V.E.—An Improved Approach to
by Judd Zh’mntəls-Peeqrs
Grammaticality judgements are an invaluable tool for syntacticians and other linguists of various theoretical persuasions. However, syntacticians have been rightly castigated for relying on their own very not-naïve intuitions, while the self-same syntacticians complain about their informants’ unnuanced categorizations of the syntacticians’ lovingly crafted sample sentences.
Of course grammaticality is clearly not binary, and while some people seem to think you can’t lick a Likert scale, I don’t like ’em!—not enough nuance; not enough soul. So I’ve created the Precise Rating & Evaluation Scale Conducive to Realistic Interpretation of People’s Terrible Intuitions for Virtually Everything—P.R.E.S.C.R.I.P.T.I.V.E.—which helps you really grok your informants’ feelings about the grammaticality of a given sample sentence. And with 24 options, you have fine-grained control over how fine-grained you want your grammaticality buckets to be!
Just match your informants’ initial response to any given sample sentence to the list below, and voilà!: you’ve transformed their intuition into real, meaningful data—or at least something that looks like 4-digit precision.
- The most grammatical sentence since the invention of sentences
- Yeah, my mom used to say that to me all the time
- Classic!, /ʃwiːːːt/!, or Dude!
- Pretty good
- Doesn’t sound bad
- Umm...I guess, maybe?
- If I try, I can make that work*
- I think you’re missing some words there
- Should I go ahead and hit you, or do you want to try that again?
- Totally bizarre
- [Blank stare]
- Reading/hearing that me made dumber
* This is evidence that your informant is actually a syntactician, and thus should be removed from your study immediately.