[Lingtyp] "clitics": recent historical origins

Jess Tauber tetrahedralpt at gmail.com
Wed Dec 8 12:00:16 UTC 2021

Physicists have their issues, such as is it a particle or a wave? Photons,
for example, as the quanta of electromagnetic waves. Seems to depend a bit
on the context. Similarly the role of the observer or the nature of the
experimental setup helping to determine the nature of the observed results.
Linguistics has plenty of its own context-sensitive observations.  Nature
is squishy in some places, hard as nails in others. Depends on where you're
looking, and when, how, etc.

Jess Tauber


On Wed, Dec 8, 2021 at 6:48 AM David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:

> Dear all,
> Adam poses the question ...
> On 08/12/2021 13:10, Adam James Ross Tallman wrote:
> *why *we appear to be in so much disagreement about terminological
> issues. It's not as if any linguists are purposely trying to obfuscate
> things - so how did we end up where we are?
> Adam proposes one answer, which is kind of specific to clitics, and about
> which I have nothing to say.  But I think that, in addition, there is a
> more general answer to Adam's question.
> Let's compare linguistics to physics.  Although physics has foundational
> questions every bit as far-reaching as those of linguistics, to the best of
> my knowledge, physicists don't spend their time fretting over
> terminological issues the way us linguists do.  So why is this the case?  I
> think there's actually a relatively straightforward reason why.  Most of
> the things that physicists deal with are either so small (sub-atomic
> particles) or so large (galaxies etc.) that they have little or no
> interface with our everyday experiential universe.  So there's no big
> reason to care what physicists choose to call things.  On the other hand,
> linguistics deals with stuff that impinges directly on our lives on an
> everyday basis.  So calling something a clitic, or a DP, or an antipassive,
> seems to be saying something about the language that is an integral part of
> our everyday lives.  Of course, as conscientious scientists we ought to be
> able to divorce our technical analyses from our everyday experiences and
> reflections; but in practice there seems to be seepage.  And it is this
> seepage, I would like to suggest, that may be at least one reason why we
> seem to care so much more than say physicists about what we call things.
> (Of course, the seepage is not just terminological but also substantive, a
> prime example of that being the notion of word.  We all deal with the
> layman's notion of word in our everyday lives, every time we press the
> space bar on our keyboards, and then do a word count of our texts; but then
> in many cases we uncritically import the layman's notion of word into our
> grammatical analyses.)
> David
> --
> David Gil
> Senior Scientist (Associate)
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany
> Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
> Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091
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