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Re: The Gospel according to Chomsky

From:And Rosta <a-rosta@...>
Date:Monday, April 15, 2002, 21:39
> 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 ;) ]
I am mildly complimented -- niceties are nice.
> 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.
Aye, but in being humorous you were not abandoning reason & wantonly spouting nonsense. I was pointing out that the premise on which your jocular hyperbole was based was in error, though in the light of your clarification about 'Chomskyite' meaning 'nonempirical', I retract my earlier remarks.
> 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.
Fair dinkum. That's not how 'Chomskyite' is used within linguistics, but it's a fair label if you oppose it to 'empiricist'. (All the same, Chomsky didn't introduce nonempirical methods to linguistics -- but that's another debate!)
> 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'.
Ah, right. There are loads of empiricists about, in actual fact, but they are scattered and disunited and so relatively invisible. (Among my colleagues, for instance, I am the lone proponent of 'antiempiricism'.) Certainly, though, empirical linguistics is waxing. One of the things I like about talking linguistics with my nonpro colleagues on this & similar lists is the tendency to empiricism, among other respects in which the nonpros have escaped the doctrines of the academy.
> I am concentrating at present on: (a) getting info on Lin onto the list,
which I continue to read with great appreciation -- thanks --And.