LINGUIST List 2.80

Monday, 18 Mar 1991

Misc: ESCOL '91, Cognitive Linguistics

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Eastern States Conference on LinguisticsESCOL91UMDD.UMD.EDU, Call for Papers: ESCOL '91
  2. , cognitive linguistics

Message 1: Call for Papers: ESCOL '91

Date: Sun, 17 Mar 91 15:00:37 EST
From: Eastern States Conference on LinguisticsESCOL91UMDD.UMD.EDU <ESCOL91UMDD.UMD.EDU>
Subject: Call for Papers: ESCOL '91


 ESCOL '91

 The Eighth Annual Meeting of the
 Eastern States Conference on Linguistics

 sponsored by
 Cognitive Science Center, The Johns Hopkins University
 Dept. of Linguistics, University of Maryland, College Park Campus
 Dept. of Modern Languages & Linguistics, U. Maryland, Baltimore Campus

 October 11-13, 1991

 Invited Speakers

 Ray Jackendoff, Brandeis University
 Peter Culicover, Ohio State University
 Luigi Burzio, The Johns Hopkins University
 Wayne O'Neil, MIT
 Alec Marantz, MIT

 With a special session on Language Learnability
 and general sessions on all areas of linguistics.

 We invite abstracts (1 page, with an extra page for references
 and/or data) for 20 minute presentations on the topic of Language
 Learnability or on any other topic, theoretical (all frameworks
 welcome!), experimental, functional, descriptive or otherwise, of
 interest to linguistics. Please send 6 copies of your abstract
 together with a card listing your name, affiliation, paper
 title, session you are submitting for (General or Learnability),
 address(es) you may be reached at over the summer and in
 September, phone number and/or e-mail address.

 DEADLINE for RECEIPT of ABSTRACTS is June 30, 1991

 Send abstracts to:

 ESCOL '91
 Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics
 University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus
 Baltimore, MD 21228

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: cognitive linguistics

Date: Sat, 16 Mar 91 21:36:52 EST
From: <>
Subject: cognitive linguistics
Bravo, Fred! Except that, instead of complaining about "usurpation",
I would say that, so long as nobody else had preempted the terms,
words such
as 'generative' or 'standard' or 'extended' were up for grabs. Bully
for those who grabbed them.

I would also like to apologize to the non-linguists on behalf of
those of my brethren who cannot seem to imagine that you people,
however intelligent you may be, have any right to say anything
about language. And to just recall the contributions to our
understanding of language (or linguistic theory) by such people
as Austin and Searle (speech acts),
Ritchie (the weak equivalence of transformational grammars and
Turing machines), van Wijngaarden (metarules), Boas (the importance
of studying aboriginal languages and many of the techniques for
describing them), Levelt and Daly (the first people to point out
that the emperor of weak generative capacity arguments had no
clothes), Montague (need I elaborate?), and many other non-linguists.

Finally, it seems to me that the whole issue that is being debated here
is really about who (if anyone) should be allowed to dictate the agenda
for the scientific study of language, rather than about specific
theories, models, or hypotheses. I do not see why anyone should be
condemned (or dismissed) for simply not wanting to define their work
and their ideas in terms of categories and issues provided by one
man (or one small school). You cannot reasonably expect everybody
who believes in a different organization of the mind than does Chomsky
or whoever to spend their whole life debating the other side.
I say this not on goose-gander grounds (which some, like Fred, would
dwell on), but rather because it is obvious that there are two (and
only two) paradigms for the conduct of scientific inquiry into an
issue on which there is no consensus. One is for everybody concerned
to get together and try to arrive at the truth or else for each side
to leave the other alone and try to get there independently. Where
I would agree with Fred is that the first paradigm is inapplicable
in the present case (since the exponents of autonomy and modularity
refuse to take either earlier or contemporary advocates of other
views seriously). But, deplorable as that may be, note that either
paradigm (if pursued honestly) will lead to truth anyway. That is,
whichever side is wrong will sooner or later discover that fact on
its own. If, God forbid, autonomy and/or modularity should turn
out to be His truth, then those who have other ideas will sooner or 
later find this out. And will then become more catholic than the Pope.
There have been many instances of this in the history of all sciences
including linguistics. Unless I am very much mistaken, the lexical
phonologists who have rediscovered the phoneme are more strongly
committed to it than any old-style phonemicist, for example. 
Would Bill Poser argue that generative phonology should never gotten
beyond the stage of arguing with the phonemicists about the phonemic
level, as he now seems to argue that those who are not bound by
the autonomy and modularity theses should now, instead of doing
their work, spend their whole time trying to play catch-up with
the proponents of said theses?
(N.B. This should not be taken as implying that I take the phonemic
level to be any part of God's truth. The example is chosen for
the sake of illustration).
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue