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Re: The Gospel according to Chomsky

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, April 14, 2002, 19:45
At 10:20 pm -0400 12/4/02, John Cowan wrote:
>And Rosta scripsit: > >> This list has 350 subscribers, of whom, afaik, exactly 1.5 >> are Chomskyan believers: Matt and Marcus (who counts as 0.5). > >Well, okay, but there are only two other actual linguisticians >(excluding, of course, possible lurkers).
...among whom there may be other 'actual linguisticians'. But even non-linguisticians may also assume that Chomsky's ideas (as far as they know them) are correct. My reaction when reading And's emails on this thread made my want to reply, as my late grandfather would have done: "Stop being do damn nice!" [For those unfamiliar with the older - possibly now obsolete - meaning of 'nice', go seek a dictionary ;) ] The statistic 1.5 cannot be verified and is probably wrong. BUT - I thought it was pretty obvious that I was replying in the same spirit as the original mail, i.e. HUMOROUSLY. An assumption had also been made - obviously humorously - that all US linguists are Chomskyites; and as the majority of the list members still hail from north America, I think, then the 1.5 is in, this context, pure nonsense. But I was using 'Chomskyite' in the _very_ broad way that, e.g. 'Christian' is often used to include all & every group whose belief system has developed from within a Christian milieu, no matter how far they may have actually departed from traditional Christian teaching - i.e. I meant broadly all who take Chomskyish 'introspection' as their starting point. I *know* that's not the strict meaning - but the thread was a humorous one. I do not wish to - and will not - be drawn into a tedious (and probably flame-provoking) thread on 'What is a true Chomskyite?' or, for that matter, 'What is a true Christian?'. What I meant, I guess, is that I often feel lonely as an 'empirical linguist'. I am concentrating at present on: (a) getting info on Lin onto the list, and (b) re-examining my own BrSc in the light of Lin (and of Dirk's 'Roman script syllabary :) I hope to post something on both matters soon, if I the 'real world' allows me time and I don't get dragged into other Conlang threads :)
>> Of the professional linguists I have had as colleagues (in >> the same department) in the last 10 years, 0 out of 16 were >> Chomskyan believers. > >But you are outside Chomskyland (the region centered on the >East Pole).
The 'East Pole', umm - would that be just over the Charles River in Cambridge MA? ;) Actually, I have been there and heard the great man himself speak - but that was political, not linguistic! On that occasion there was no introspection, plenty of objective facts and I agreed with every word he uttered. In linguistics I'm no follower of Chomsky, but in politically that's a whole different ball game :) Ray, eargerly awaiting publication of Geoffrey Sampsons "Empirical Linguistics" ====================== XRICTOC ANECTH ======================


John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
And Rosta <a-rosta@...>