LINGUIST List 5.840

Mon 25 Jul 1994

Misc: Popularization of linguistics, Linguistics-bashing

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Directory

  1. RFC822 mailer, Popularizers
  2. Karl Teeter, Re: 5.833 Misc: Popularizing linguistics, Linguistics-bashing
  3. Colin Phillips, Popularizing Linguistics
  4. Vicki Fromkin, Re: 5.834 Williams Syndrome & Modularity

Message 1: Popularizers

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 15:42:50 -0400
From: RFC822 mailer <MAILERUKCC.uky.edu>
Subject: Popularizers
Mario Pei was constantly lambasted by professionals (even though
he was a trained linguist) for "popularizing", as was Lancelot Hogben.
And yet it is strangely the case that there were many who admitted to
having been attracted to, and indeed learned the existence of linguistics
from their works. If we want popularization, we must not condemn it for
being popularization, nor must we condemn it for not adhering to the
intricacies of the most current theoretical vogue. Indeed, we must not
even require that a popularizing work be a surveylike introduction to
all facets (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics....
A popular book is not a text book, and in return text books do not become
popular. I found much in Lancelot and Mario and Margaret to reinforce my
junior high impressio;n that language was interesting and fun. Schwa
secundum and x-bar came later.
Ki semenat ispinaza, non andet iskultsu!
J. A. Rea jareaukcc.uky.edu
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Message 2: Re: 5.833 Misc: Popularizing linguistics, Linguistics-bashing

Date: Fri, 22 Jul 1994 11:22:50 -0400 (EDT)
From: Karl Teeter <kvthusc.harvard.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.833 Misc: Popularizing linguistics, Linguistics-bashing
In regard to Scientific American's "authority" being quoted on linguistic
matters, a couple of years ago they ran an article lionizing Greenberg's
new crackpot theories on linguistic relationships, and utterly refused
correspondence from a number of distinguished scholars in native American
lingusitics critiquing the piece. The whole matter is neatly summarized
by Vitor Golla in one of last year's issues of the Newsletter of the
Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas
(gollaaxe.humboldt.edu). With friends like Scientific American, who
needs enemies?
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Message 3: Popularizing Linguistics

Date: Sun, 24 Jul 94 19:31:26 EDT
From: Colin Phillips <cphillMIT.EDU>
Subject: Popularizing Linguistics
Readers of the recent discussion about popularizing linguistics may be
interested in the following recent dissertation, which explores the benefits
of using linguistics as a part of secondary school science education.
LINGUISTIC INQUIRY IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM, (MIT Occasional Papers in
 Linguistics #6), by Maya Honda. [1994 Harvard PhD dissertation] 262pp,
 $8+p/h ($1 in US, else $1.50). MITWPL, 20D-219, MIT, Cambridge, Mass.,
 02139, USA. mitwplmit.edu
 "This study investigates age-related differences in secondary school
 students' conceptions of the nature of scientific inquiry, and explores
 whether students' conceptions are changed given instruction in linguistic
 theory-building."
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Message 4: Re: 5.834 Williams Syndrome & Modularity

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 94 08:37 PDT
From: Vicki Fromkin <IYO1VAFMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 5.834 Williams Syndrome & Modularity
I do think this has gone on long enough and Paul Deane and I should
discuss the issue between ourselves. Anyone who is interested can get in
touch with us and/or read the growing literature on the issue.
 So let me just sign off by saying:
1. Modularity does not = neuroanatomical localization. There
can be mental modules with highly distributed nueral systems
subserving them. (but this does not mean there is no localization)
2. Thus different cognitive functions can share neuroanatomy.
3. This is obvious when one realizes that brain damage can result in
loss of certain language functions and retention of the neural/motor/percep-
tual systems which subserve both language and non-language. True for both
spoken language (where there is no problem in hearing or producing sounds
but problem in comprehending and/or speaking. Also true of brain damaged
deaf signers who retain spacial/visual/gestural abililties when they
are not linguistic or vice versa.
I give up. Sorry to all of you who have been subject to this 'debate' --
Vicki Fromkin
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