On Everett & Piraha: "history holds the key"

Tom Givon tgivon at uoregon.edu
Mon Apr 23 23:36:50 UTC 2007

Of course, if I had to choose between Chomsky and Pike as to which one 
was more arrogant, insulated and selef-centered, I'm not sure I could 
make a principled decision; maybe flip a coin? Not quite in the same 
vein, if I were forced to choose between Chomskian extreme 
universalism/innatism and Sapirian extreme relativism/inputism, I would 
consider it a bad intellectual choice. I'd bet on somewhere mid-way 
between the two; sort of like nature-nurthure or chicken-egg. Cheers,  TG


Daniel L. Everett wrote:

>>> Esa
>>> P.S. The point of my 1996 paper (arrived at, literally, on the  last 
>>> page) was anticipated by Dell Hymes & John Fought on p. 242  of 
>>> their book  American Structuralism (Mouton, 1981 [1975]). In  
>>> another context (= p. 160) they quote the following perceptive  
>>> remark: "You can't fight arrogance with humility."
> The remark by Hymes and Fought, which I read years ago, is,  I  
> believe about why Chomsky won over the linguistic world instead of  
> Ken Pike. I don't know that I agree with their assessment. In any  
> case, I should say that I have read in the history of linguistics  
> regularly
> since the 80s and that my appreciation of Sapir has been strong since  
> 1979, as I was beginning my PhD, though I didn't have any good ideas  
> on  how to integrate that into my own ethnogrammar research program  
> until about 2003 or so.
> Dan
> **********************
> Daniel L. Everett, Professor of Linguistics, Anthropology, and  
> Biological Sciences
> and
> Chair,
> Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
> Campus Box 4300
> Illinois State University
> Normal, Illinois 61790-4300
> OFFICE: 309-438-3604
> FAX: 309-438-8038
> Dept: http://www.llc.ilstu.edu/default.asp
> Recursion: http://www.llc.ilstu.edu/rechul/
> Personal: http://www.llc.ilstu.edu/dlevere/
> Honorary Professor of Linguistics
> University of Manchester
> Manchester, UK
> ***********
> β€œThe notion that the essence of what it means to be human is most  
> clearly revealed in those features of human culture that are  
> universal rather than in those that are distinctive to this people or  
> that is a prejudice that we are not obliged to share... It may be in  
> the cultural particularities of people β€” in their oddities β€” that  
> some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be  
> generically human are to be found.” Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)

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