Theory, Model, Method
Field work 2: qualitative versus quantitative
Quantitative data is organised in a numerical form, i.e. the results of counting, measuring and calculating are represented.
Example of quantitative data:
(Source: Radford, Andrew et al.1999. Linguistics. An Introduction. Cambridge: CUP:55.)
Qualitative data contains actual samples of utterances or longer stretches of speech and is usually presented in a written form, e.g. a transcription of an interview or a conversation, or even audio-visual clips. Qualitative data samples can be submitted to a qualitative analysis or to a quantitative analysis. A qualitative analysis features examples of a particular aspect of language, whereas a quantitative analysis represents language behaviour numerically.
Example of qualitative data:
- Interaction between child (C) and mother (M)C: me want to read that.M: okay. let's read that.C: read that. wrong side.M: I think you've got it upside down.C: look. look her toe.M: I think they're funny shoes actually. made to look like toes.C: why?
(Source: Stillwell Peccei, Jean 1994. Child Language. London: Routledge.)
Exercises on Naturalistic Data Collection: Field Work