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John Myhill john at RESEARCH.HAIFA.AC.IL
Sun Apr 27 03:45:26 UTC 1997

In response to Ellen Prince's message:

>in answer to your first paragraph, i suspect no one changes his/her beliefs
>around here -- but it would be nice if we updated our meta-beliefs about
>who believes what.

I will report the results of my informal survey conducted several months
ago on funknet regarding whether anyone had ever been convinced by anyone else's
arguments to change their mind regarding some 'formal' vs. 'nonformal'
issue (I believe it was 'the autonomy debate', and I added that this
'conversion' should have taken place after graduate school).

The results are in, and Ellen Prince is in fact the only person who has
acknowledged having changed her mind as a result of some evidence (from
non-autonomy to autonomy).

As much as I value Ellen's opinion, I think that the fact that this `debate'
has evidently not had any effect upon anyone else leads me to suspect that
the formal vs. non-formal `debate' on funknet (in its various incarnations)
has had more or less the same meaning as the 2-minute hate in Orwell's
1984, where 'Goldstein' (`Goldberg'? I forget) appears on a video screen
ranting against Big Brother and people work themselves into a fury
screaming at him for 2 minutes, with Dan Everett serving as our Goldberg
(with occasional guest appearances by F. Newmeyer). Perhaps Dan would agree
to set up a new 'argue with a formal linguist' network? I'm sure it would
be quite popular.

John Myhill

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