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CHAT: Back on the list; Anti-conlanging bigots

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Thursday, December 6, 2001, 2:22
Hello all.  So, now that the quarter is drawing to its close, I can
safely spend more time on the list, which I do so enjoy.  I've
been working on several features of Phaleran, including demonstratives,
ordinals, and several text translations so that I can figure out
exactly what stance Phaleran takes on a range of subjects.

In other news, I'm enjoying school here at UofC (especially the
weekly Teas held by the department).  Only a couple of bad notes
since moving to Chicago.  Not having known anyone here, I tend
to jabber on about what I know, which mostly means my previous
life in Texas.  The knowledge of most people here about Texas
is so poor as to be mere caricature, but they're mostly nice
and don't mean anything by it.  I've only met two anti-Texan
bigots.  But that's not the worst of it.  Our syntax class is
run along the expected Government and Binding program, which is
fine as long as you like sticking things in little boxes. Anyways,
one day we were discussing how GB handles case marking, and the
question arose whether there are any languages whose adpositions
assign nominative case.  I mentioned that I knew off the top of my
head of no natural languages which marked case in that way, though
I did know of a constructed language that did this.  At this my
professor (who's only six years older than me) did a double
take, and said "What?" with a confused look on his face.  I
clarified that Esperanto did this, but before I could explain
myself, he let a great groan and said "Ohhh" and turned to the
board in what appeared to be disgust, as if I had just said
something profoundly ignorant.  My point had been, of course,
that Esperanto is the exception that proves the rule:  you almost
*have* to go to constructed languages to find an example of
adpositions marking nominative case. Unfortunately, I never got
a chance to explain that to him, because I didn't feel that it
was a particularly relevant point to our larger discussion, and
didn't want to get into a petty argument with someone who shares
the profession's marked hostility to conlanging.  (He's a nice guy,
but tends to be distinctly doctrinaire about all things Chomskyan,
and takes himself and linguistics way too seriously.)  It's too
bad, really, since that attitude has infected some of my fellow
first-year gradstudents who consider conlanging trite, but are
apparently too polite to admit it.

Anyways, I needed to get that off my chest. I should be posting
several posts on Phaleran starting this weekend.  In the mean time,
I have a project on tone sandhi to complete (a subject, I have been
told, the list has been discussing recently).

Thomas Wier <trwier@...> <>
                      "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n /
Dept. of Linguistics  mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..."
University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought /
1010 E. 59th Street   and not complete one road that has no turn"
Chicago, IL 60637     Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers


Anton Sherwood <bronto@...>