[Fwd: Re: [FUNKNET] Lakoff critique]

Paul Hopper hopper at cmu.edu
Sat Jun 11 00:29:04 UTC 2005

I'm forwarding this comment to FUNKNET readers because Ed Blansitt seems to have omitted the FUNKNET address.

I wonder if either Ed or Tom actually bothered to read the Richard Lichtman article that Tahir Wood drew our attention to, or whether you just picked up on the body of his message (which quoted the opening paragraph of Lichtman's essay, by the way--it was not a political comment by Tahir!) and categorised it off the cuff as +political, -linguistic, and therefore beyond the pale.

If you'd read the article, you'd have found a very pertinent comment on Lakoff's approach to metaphor and on cognitive linguistics. I for one find this at least as relevant to functional linguistics as the discussion of evolution that took place last week. (So, Ed, would your "narrower definition" of linguistic functions include, or not include, discussion of evolution? Please tell us, so that we can be informed for future reference what we may and what we may not discuss in this forum.)

As a founding member of the FUNKNET community, I find it troubling that a discussion group whose raison d'etre was liberation from the confines of structuralism should find itself subjected to the imposition of a new set of arbitrary theoretical constraints, cast, ironically, only a little bit further out than structuralism. But then, there's a word for what happens when revolutionaries come to positions of power: Politics.


---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Lakoff critique
From:    "Edward Blansitt" <cblansit at elp.rr.com>
Date:    Fri, June 10, 2005 7:54 pm
To:      "Paul Hopper" <hopper at cmu.edu>
         cogling at ucsd.edu

     As one who dropped out of LSA a few decades ago -- without ever
returning -- because it was tolerating a political discussion, I fully
understand and totally agree with Tom Givon's "suggestions".
     I am a functional structuralist, in the Martinet and Alarcos
traditions, and disagree, perhaps in a minor way, with some common
approaches to functionalism, including FG, SFG, and RRG; I feel rather close
to and united with these other functionalists, however, when autonomous
syntax is added to the mix.
     I must say, however, that I seem to have a much narrower definition of
linguistic "functions" than does Paul Hopper; I do agree that the boundary
between what is and what is not pertinent to linguistics is probably
indeterminable, but there are inside and outside fringes which clearly are
or are not within the domain of linguistics. If my understanding of
"functions" is due to my functional structuralism, perhaps some less
structuralist functionalists will call it to my attention.

Ed Blansitt

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Hopper" <hopper at cmu.edu>
To: <cogling at ucsd.edu>
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 11:24 AM
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Lakoff critique

> Thanks, Tahir, for bringing this article to our attention. Richard
Lichtman raises significant questions about Lakoff's approach to metaphor
and cognition that seem to me to be quite within the bounds of discussion in
FUNKnet. Lakoff himself certainly understands his political activities to be
driven by language and linguistics.
> The fact is that once we open up the study of language to 'functions', any
attempt to impose limits according to some private definition of what is and
what is not linguistic in nature is certain to be arbitrary (e.g., no one
objected to the discussion of evolution over FUNKnet in recent weeks or
'suggested' that it be moved to a biological site).
> I hope, Tahir, that you will continue to note relevant contributions from
the intellectual community for us, and not be intimidated by 'suggestions'
as to what does and does not fall within our purview. Let's keep FUNKnet
open for input from any source that our members perceive as relevant.
> Paul
> >>>> Tom Givon <tgivon at uoregon.edu> 6/10/2005 2:55:17 PM >>>
> >
> > Dear FUNK people,
> >
> > With all due respect to Tahir, whose view I may even share, I would like
> > to suggest that FUNKNET be kept free of political discussion. If you
> > to get at George (I have nothing against that, in principle), please do
> >  in a political forum. FUNKNET has, from the start, been a strictly
> > professional forum. Let's keep it this way.  Peace,
> >
> > Tom Givon
> >
> > Sure, no problem. I just thought it might be of some interest. The
> > does raise for me certain issues of cognition alongside the political
> > ones, but whatever ... Tahir
> >
> >
> --
> Paul J. Hopper
> Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
> Department of English
> Carnegie Mellon University
> Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
> Tel. 412-683-1109
> Fax 412-268-7989

Paul J. Hopper
Director of Graduate Studies
Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
Department of English
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
Tel. 412-683-1109
Fax 412-268-7989

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