Arabic and IE
manaster at umich.edu
Sun Jan 31 20:16:50 UTC 1999
On Sat, 30 Jan 1999, H. Mark Hubey wrote (inter alia):
> Those who have been on Altainet know that I have not
> agreed with Alexis on a number of issues so if I write
> this in support it is certainly not due to 'buddyism'.
This is certinly true. I fear my responses to Dr. Hubey
on other lists have bordered on rude. It is very kind of
Mark to rise about that.
> Most linguists do not seem to study anything at all,
> but merely memorize somethings they read and then assert them
> everywhere they go and expect everyone to bow down and kiss
> their feet.
I do think that linguists have the same relationship to
language that physicists do to the physical universe,
and that we should be listened to in our area as much
as they are in theirs. This indeed has been my main
bone of contention with Mark, who is one of the many
nonlinguists who seem to feel that they know much
more about lg than we do.
> There is no such thing as "proof by assertion".
> Contrary to what some of the more ignorant members of this
> profession claim (and write in their books), there is also
> no such thing as "proof by repetetion".
That's true, but even in the natural sciences we find
people behaving as though there were.
> Linguists like economists, sociologists and psychologists
> before them will have to learn to wield the tools of science,
> mostly logic and probability theory and reason cogently.
I disagree in the sense that I think linguistics is
in most regards much more scientific than the other three
fields mentioned. Moreover, I believe that, when the real
history of Western science is written, everyone will see
that linguistics has been the source of some very important
ideas. More generally, it is not by any means true that
the natural sciences have always been ahead of the social/
humanistic ones. The whole idea of evolution originated with
Vico in history/social science, first became really
scientific in linguistics, only then (and in part thence)
in geology and biology, and much later in physics.
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