LINGUIST List 4.729

Mon 20 Sep 1993

Disc: Linguistic Pedagogy

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Steven Schaufele, scientific linguistics?
  2. TERRY IRONS, Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi
  3. Stavros Macrakis, 4.719 Learning the history of one's field
  4. , Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi

Message 1: scientific linguistics?

Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1993 23:03:37 scientific linguistics?
From: Steven Schaufele <fcoswsux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: scientific linguistics?

I am here responding primarily to Philip Swann's remarks in LINGUIST 4-676,
but since what i have to say may be of general concern i hope he will not
object to my publishing my comments on the net.

Swann says,
>There can be no 'fundamental science' of language
>because language (viewed as a semiotic system) is
>not fundamental, it's an historical and social process
>that cannot be isolated from its matrix in any
>interesting or useful way.

I submit that the same claim, mutatis mutandis, can be made of biology, or
chemistry, for that matter; both involve the study of phenomena that, in
the last analysis, *may* be reducible to more 'fundamental' phenomena that
fall under the purview of, ultimately, physics. But i would not for that
reason deny the label/status of 'science' to biology or to chemistry. Both
disciplines involve looking at a well-defined (or at least theoretically
definable) set of phenomena from a point of view that is distinct from the
point of view appropriate to physics but to which the scientific method is
clearly just as applicable.

(I notice that Swann implies that archaeology isn't a science either. I
don't think i would like to have to accept or defend that claim any more
than i would of biology, chemistry, history, or linguistics.)

Is the scientific method as applicable to linguistics and other historical
and social sciences as it is to the so-called 'hard' sciences of astronomy,
biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics? I submit that it is: Insofar
as we rely solely on data that are objective, i.e. independently verifiable
(meaning, by other researchers) and produce hypotheses that have real
repercussions vis-a-vis the data (i.e., are clearly falsifiable -- in
LINGUIST 4-523 (Listserv item no. 2223) i posted a set of questions that
should be asked of any proposed linguistic hypothesis, which questions
would help to achieve this goal), we are investigating language
scientifically. If that's what we're doing, or at least striving to do,
shouldn't we admit it and call our pursuit a science?

Sincerely,
Steven
 ------
Dr. Steven Schaufele 217-344-8240
712 West Washington Ave. fcoswsux1.cso.uiuc.edu
Urbana, IL 61801

*** O syntagmata linguarum liberemini humanarum! ***
*** Nihil vestris privari nisi obicibus potestis! ***
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi

Date: Sun, 19 Sep 93 18:12:11 EDRe: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi
From: TERRY IRONS <t.ironsmsuacad.morehead-st.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi

 In a recent discussion with a colleague on a history of
linguistics course, my friend Tom Stroik mentioned Fred Newmeyer's
book on the history of linguistic theory. It is a much better place
to start than new condensed summaries or the articles themselves.

 But I am even more enthused by the idea of the key sentences in
the literature, anbd if the moderators do not object, I think the
list a great place to compile such a list. I find myself searching
for these examples as I prepare for classes. The idea of having
students find where these sentences came up as signficant issues
is a perfect way to look at the history.

In line with one of my interests, here are slight paraphrases of
two from memory.

 (1) The secretary sent out the stockholders a message
 (2) The secretary sent the stockholders out a message

See Emonds on root and structure preserving transformations!

Terry Lynn Irons
Morehead State University
email: t.ironsmsuacadmorehead-st.edu
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: 4.719 Learning the history of one's field

Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1993 20:32:26 4.719 Learning the history of one's field
From: Stavros Macrakis <macrakisosf.org>
Subject: 4.719 Learning the history of one's field

Margaret M. Fleck <mfleckbolivar.cs.uiowa.edu> (Linguist 4.719)
suggests that "students... be given pre-processed versions of earlier
material.... look at how physical scientists [do it]".

Physical scientists typically do it badly: they present "rational
reconstructions", not history; they way things ought to have happened,
not the way they did. By using modern terminology, they often make
the original work sound trivial or absurd, especially if it is wrong
by current standards.

But reading the original papers isn't a solution by itself, either,
since they only make sense in context.

Anyone for subcontracting with a historian of science? Or is the
in-group history too essential a part of acculturation as a professional?

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

Message 4: Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi

Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 12:38:29 +0Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi
From: <shimizuhakobera.isct.kyutech.ac.jp>
Subject: Re: 4.719 The Linguistic Wars: Ross, Syllabi


In LINGUIST List: Vol-4-719, WERTHalf.let.uva.nl writes;

>> However, a constructive suggestion. I've toyed with the idea of presenting
>> this history of fairly recent linguistics not by lecturing on the stuff or
>> even getting the students to wade through a booklist (however modest), but
>> rather - using good 'hands on' teaching principles - by way of important
>> example sentences: you know,'Flying planes can be dangerous', MIGs and jets,
>> 'Seymour sliced the salami with a knife', 'the convict with the red shirt'
>> and so on. These could be arranged in assignment form, with some biblio-
>> graphical information, for longer papers by students, or students could be
>> left to track them down themselves,and then briefly say what point they were
>> intended to make. This obviously depends on how deep the course is supposed
>> to go, whether it's just for general orientation, or an academic course like
>> any other. If this strikes anybody else as containing the germ of a useful
>> idea, perhaps the LINGUIST list might be used as a forum to compile a list
>> of these significant examples.

This is exactly what they did at Tsukuba University in Japan
around 10 years ago. I hear they tried to make the collection
open to public, but gave it up because of the copyright problem.
Although I think Werth's idea is excellent, I wonder if we can
clear the same problem.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Makoto SHIMIZU
shimizuhakobera.isct.kyutech.ac.jp
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Kyushu Institute of Technology
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue