[Lingtyp] "clitics": recent historical origins
fcosw5 at scu.edu.tw
Fri Dec 10 04:39:13 UTC 2021
David suggests, '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.'
It may be worth pointing out that, unlike physics, linguistics is a science about specifically human activities (I've always tended to regard linguistics as to some extent a branch of anthropology). That being the case, I would suggest that with regard to linguistics, such a 'divorce' as David suggests may be *impossible*.
From:David Gil<gil at shh.mpg.de>
To:lingtyp<lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2021 19:47:12
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] "clitics": recent historical origins
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 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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