5. English pluralization: A testing ground for rule evaluation.
This paper is concerned with the problem of choosing between alternative linguistic descriptions. The argument is presented that so long as linguistic analyses are construed as mere descriptions of linguistic forms, the choice between competing alternatives can only be achieved by arbitrary means. By imposing psychological interpretations on linguistic analyses, however, various formal linguistic proposals can be converted into psychological theories concerned with the cognitive basis upon which linguistic forms are produced by the speakers of a language. Illustrations are provided which relate to various alternative descriptive accounts of the regular English plural inflection, and an attempt is made to specify those crucial data which might serve to distinguish among the resulting alternative psychological theories on a firm, empirical basis.