Darwin-L Message Log 11: 94–120 — July 1994
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during July 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
-------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 11: 94-120 -- JULY 1994 -------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:94>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 16 00:06:46 1994 Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 01:07:52 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: "Local knowledge" / "geohistoricity" To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Bill Lynn's discussion of geohistoricity, as he calls it, has been very interesting to me. The term itself does strike me as odd (I want to read it as a technical geological term), but the concept itself is I think an important one in the historical sciences. It is similar in some respects to what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls "local knowledge". In a collection of essays by that name he observes: "Like sailing, gardening, politics, and poetry, law and ethnography are crafts of place: they work by the light of local knowledge." (Perhaps our legal historian, Peter Junger, knows this essay.) I want to connect this idea more firmly with the historical sciences by extending the notion of "local" to time as well as space, so we can speak of not just geographically local events and objects, but temporally local events and objects also. I also want to offer an anecdote: This past term I tried to teach a small undergraduate course that dealt with the historical sciences as a whole. One of the things I talked about was the Antiquarian Period of the late 1600s and early 1700s -- a very fascinating period indeed. An important figure of the time was John Ray; most systematists will know him as one of the most important pre-Linnean systematists. They may not know that he was also one of the first comparative linguists (of a sort), and published a comparative dictionary of Greek, Latin, and English, as well as the first English dialect dictionary. We looked at his dialect dictionary in class; this is its full title: Ray, John. 1691. _A Collection of English Words Not Generally Used, with their significations and original, in two alphabetical catalogues, the one of such as are proper to the northern, the other to the southern counties. With an account of the preparing and refining such metals and minerals as are gotten in England_. London: Printed for Christopher Wilkinson. One of my clever students said, "What are the metals and minerals doing in there?" At the end of the volume (which is a delight to read), there is a secton of several pages on mining. In the first English dialect dictionary? Why? Well, here is one answer: they are in a way out of place in this particular volume, but if we consider why Ray is interested in them at all the answer is clear: his is interested in local knowledge, and he is amassing not simply loose particulars, but loose particulars acquire meaning by being situated geographically and temporally. The discussion of mines and minerals in the dialect dictionary is not a discussion of general principles; it is a specific description, in some detail, of the milling of silver in Cardiganshire, the smelting of tin in Cornwall, "the manner of the Wire work at Tintern in Monmouthshire", "the Allom Work at Whitby in Yorkshire", and so on. Ray's collection of mining details, geographically detailed, invited comparison and historical explanation, just as his collection of words, geographically detailed, also does. (And as his natural history collections did. I wonder about the significance of the word "collection" in his dictionary's title.) While Ray certainly didn't have the time depth that we have today for our understanding of natural history or linguistic history, he was laying the foundations for the study of "the original" of all these things by connecting them together in space and time as best he could. To make a crude generalization, but one that has some merit: the distinction between scientific/theoretical understanding on the one hand, and historical understanding on the other, is that scientific/theoretical understanding is acheived by situating objects and events in an atemporal or universal framework, whereas historical understanding is acheived by situating objects and events in particular temporal and spatial contexts, _not_ as loose particulars, but as intricately connected things ("embedded", as Bill said). In conventional philosophy, particulars are important only insofar as they instantiate universals. But being instances of universals is only one way particulars may be given meaning; another way is by seeing them as embedded parts of larger particulars, just as we may understand a city by embedding it in a state, or a war by embedding it in the course of a century. The acheivement -- the task of the historian or historical scientist -- is to do the embedding: to take the loose particular and so deeply embed it temporally and geographically that it can no longer be shaken loose. The general disregard on the part of philosophers for this mode of understanding particulars (in contrast to the elevation of the mode whereby particulars are understood as instances of universals) may perhaps be itself an historical legacy of the slight regard Greek philosophy had for history as a subject of inquiry. (Now there's an entertaining irony: I'm trying to understand the traditional primacy of universal knowledge in philosophy by embedding philosophy-as-a-particular in its historical context. ;-) This topic connects on one side with the epistemological or explanatory character of historical narrative. A very fine paper on this subject that might be of interest to some Darwin-L members is: Hull, David L. 1975. Central subjects and historical narratives. _History and Theory_, 14:253-274. Hull argues that narratives explain by integrating or individuating their central subjects; that is, by knitting them into particular wholes. A related fascinating paper that considers the role of historical narrative in scientists' understanding of the character of their own work is: Rouse, J. 1990. The narrative reconstruction of science. _Inquiry_, 33:179-196. This is a paper that I know Polly Winsor is familar with, and has looked at in the context of her work on how scientists use the history of their own fields in their writings. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:95>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 16 00:13:07 1994 Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 01:14:19 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Missouri Botanical Garden on World Wide Web (fwd from TAXACOM) To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 15:09:51 +22304552 From: "Alan V. Tucker" <tucker@MOBOT.MOBOT.ORG> Subject: Missouri Botanical Garden Web Server Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) proudly announces its new World Wide Web server. The site includes a tour of the Garden, a brief history lesson, the Flora of North America project, information about educational programs, a gateway to other biological Web sites, and access to our database. Over 600,000 WAIS-indexed records reside in the taxonomic database, accessible to any Web or gopher user. Visit the Missouri Botanical Garden Web at: http://straylight.tamu.edu/MoBot/darwin.html You can reach the dataset through the Web, or through gopher (mobot.org). Send comments to Alan Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org). --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:96>From email@example.com Sat Jul 16 10:29:21 1994 Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 11:30:48 -0400 From: ad201@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Donald Phillipson) To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu Subject: Northrop Frye on stories & belief W. Troy Tucker (WTUCKER@BOOTES.UNM.EDU) wrote July 15 about cultural evolution, consistency and truth: >I'm sympathetic to Turkel's position when he states: > >"beliefs are spontaneously and randomly generated within cultures. >These beliefs are not necessarily adaptive. Those cultures which have >a significant load of unadaptive beliefs are in danger of extinction, >whereas those cultures which have adaptive beliefs will continue to >reproduce." A strong argument from literary studies corresponds partly to Chomsky's assertion the structure of language is genetically "hard-wired." The Canadian critic Northrop Frye came to the conclusion that (for whatever reason) the human species needs ideas to survive, and the species invents and transmits those ideas at the most primitive level in the form of narrative stories. In a nutshell: "Ideology is always a secondary and derivative thing, and... the primary thing is a mythology.... People don't think up a set of assumptions or beliefs; they think up a set of stories, and derive the assumptions and beliefs from the stories." (Criticism in Society, ed. Imre Salusinzsky (London: Methuen, 1987) p. 31. Frye came to this general conclusion only late in life, after decades of work on the taxonomy of literatures. Except for people who are extraordinarily well-read, this is difficult stuff, but extremely carefully substantiated. (Frye never said much about science, but you get the impression his life was a moral crusade to make literary criticism into a cumulative fact-based social discipline, rather than merely propaganda and personal opinion, i.e. turn it from an aesthetic party-game into a science.) Frye's famous Anatomy of Criticism (about the most-cited 20th century book) gives the core doctrine, but there are later simplified such as the following from an (unsigned) computer file I picked up a few years ago. Looking for structure, Frye suggests three organizations of myths and archetypal symbols. "UNDISPLACED MYTH: stories about Heaven and gods, Hell and demons. The first category expresses an apocalyptic vision (a glimpse of the genuine eternal reality that hides behind the illusory world around us). The second category expresses a demonic vision (a perverted, evil reality). "ROMANCE: this is a world that begins to resemble human experience, but it contains implied mythical patterns -- superhuman heroes, magic and other wonders. "REALISM: emphasis here is on content and representation, and mythic structures are often deeply concealed. We read about a world apparently our own, obeying natural laws. But displaced mythic patterns are still built into the story. "An archetype is a symbol, usually an image from the natural world, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as a common element of the reader's literary experience. (An example is the red flower which has symbolized the deaths of young men from the Greeks to the present.) Archetypal imagery reflects categories of human desire and fear. Desire creates images of apocalyptic unification; fear creates images of demonic isolation. "The VEGETABLE WORLD creates such archetypes as the garden, grove and park (apocalyptic); the sinister forest or wilderness (demonic). "The ANIMAL WORLD creates such archetypes as domesticated animals, especially sheep (apocalyptic), and wolves, predators and dragons (demonic). "The MINERAL WORLD creates such archetypes as the city and temple (apocalyptic) and the desert and prison (demonic). "The apocalyptic vision ultimately portrays all these categories as becoming unified in the image of Christ: "divine world = society of gods = One God human world = society of men = One Man animal world = sheepfold = One Lamb vegetable world = garden, park = One Tree mineral world = city = One Building, Temple "The demonic vision portrays these categories as cruel parodies in which the individual is oppressed and cut off from both society and the natural world. Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is a great modern example. "Archetypal images often reflect the cycles of the natural world: day and night, the seasons, the human life cycle. Images associated with different seasons are also associated with different modes of literature: spring = comedy summer = romance autumn = tragedy winter = irony and satire." Fry concluded these four cultural Modes are primordial and characterise any culture. Modes and archetypes are not merely popular and therefore common decorative features: they are mechanisms essential to make the stories go, which define them. You could tell the story of Cinderella or Richard Nixon in any of these four Modes, and it would be a really different story, even while the facts remained the same. While Frye never announced any criteria of judgement he thought he could defend, one can classify traditions or particular historical periods by their characteristic Modes, e.g. Western culture in the 20th century is obviously more Ironic than any civilization we know. (One confirmation is that "straight" versions of classic fairy tales have almost disappeared. Children now commonly encounter them through television, usually parodied or ironically invoked. Perhaps parody is irrestibly cheaper than comedy or romance in corporate business, which TV has become. I am apprehensive that a dominant cultural core of Irony, displacing other modes, may be anti-adaptive i.e. do actual harm -- but would need to prove this by adequately describing our cultural environment, and I don't know how to do this.) Greek and Irish literature are characteristically Tragic in a way French and English simply aren't. The literary 19th century was obviously a period of either Comic or Romantic optimism: it seems no accident that 19th century American literature is predominantly Comic and social-reforming theory (Comte, Marx etc.) fundamentally Romantic. We shouldn't let these ideas run away with us, and Turkel's "beliefs are not necessarily adaptive" is a helpful reminder at this point. But Frye's basic doctrine is both better carpentered at its source than any other literary scholarship and intuitively appealing to people interested in the dynamics of belief ("stories") and the various orders of authorized or confirmed truths. -- | Donald Phillipson, 4180 Boundary Rd., Carlsbad | | Springs, Ont., Canada K0A 1K0; tel: (613) 822-0734 | | "What I've always liked about science is its independence from | | authority"--Ontario Science Centre (name on file) 10 July 1981 | _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:97>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Jul 16 11:10:40 1994 To: email@example.com Subject: Heroic myths and William Jones Date: Sat, 16 Jul 94 12:11:50 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <firstname.lastname@example.org> Polly Winsor asks (unless I misunderstood her) for examples of heroic myths in historical sciences. One of the most spectacular in linguistics is the story of Sir William Jones, who went out to India as a representative of the British Raj and came back with the marvelous story of Sanskrit and its obvious historical links with Latin, Greek, and many other European languages -- all these must, he said, be sprung from some common source, which, perhaps. no longer exists. (That last bit is mostly a direct quote, but without the quotation marks because I don't have the sources here to check.) Jones is credited with being the first to pull Indic into what became known as the Indo-European language family, and is quoted or at least cited in just about every introductory linguistics textbook. (Jones said this at the end of the 18th c.) He did say what he is quoted as saying, but his work has also been cited as evidence that just looking through word lists is enough to establish family relationships among languages. What is rarely remembered (because almost no one really *reads* Jones) is that, along with his valid hypothesis about Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, &c., he also posited some family groupings that were wildly off target -- modern Indic languages not related to Sanskrit at all, for instance (but they are in fact descendants of ancient Indic, of which Sanskrit is the main attested form), and so forth. William Poser & Lyle Campbell have written about this, giving details of Jones's mistakes. That is: his eloquent quotation deserves to be remembered, but it's a myth that he was any kind of forerunner to later (19th-century) methodologies that grew into standard historical linguistics as we know it today. Sally Thomason email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:98>From LKNYHART@macc.wisc.edu Sat Jul 16 15:07:30 1994 Date: Sat, 16 Jul 94 15:08 CDT From: Lynn K. Nyhart <LKNYHART@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: On the shoulders of giants To: firstname.lastname@example.org To elaborate on John Langdon's note about Newton's sarcasm in using the phrase "standing on the shoulders of giants": Langdon mentions Newton wrote it in a letter to Hooke; he does not mention that Hooke was a short hunchback with whom Newton was engaged in a priority dispute! So the target of the sarcasm may have been close at hand. I'm a little surprised that in the various messages on this subject over the past few days, no one has thrown in what must be the definitive work on the phrase: Robert Merton's On the shoulders of Giants: A Shandean Postscript. I don't have a reference to the original publication date, but it has been reissued in what is called "the post-Italianate edition" in 1993 by the U. of Chicago Press, weighing in at 320 pages. I looked at the original edition some years ago, and remember finding it charming and fascinating--a tour through the history of the phrase. Lynn Nyhart History of Science University of Wisconsin-Madison email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:99>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 16 16:21:46 1994 Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 17:23:01 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Museum techniques seminar (fwd from ARCH-L) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro This notice of a cross-disciplinary seminar on museum identification techniques just appeared on ARCH-L. I thought it might be of interest to some Darwin-L members. Bob O'Hara (email@example.com) --begin forwarded message-------------- IDENTIFYING MUSEUM MATERIALS: a short course in collections management and conservation Presented by the San Diego Natural History Museum in conjunction with International Academic Projects, London *** September 21-24, 1994 *** This is a four-day, intensive professional course on the practical identification of museum materials, designed for anyone who works with collections of historic, cultural, artistic or scientific objects. Accurate identification of the materials from which objects are made is vital to decisions in classification, conservation, documentation, exhibition, and storage. The course will focus on identification of a wide range of natural and manmade materials, using visual and physical techniques. Identification of deteriorated and corroded surfaces and the causes of deterioration will also be covered. Materials to be studied and analyzed in depth include wood, bone, horn, ivory, shell, glass, ceramics, metals, adhesives, plastics, and other materials commonly found in museum objects. Emphasis is placed on techniques that use a minimum of technological or destructive sampling approaches. Both lecture and laboratory sessions will be offered. Participants are encouraged to bring problematic materials from their own collections or areas for discussion and identification. The course will be taught primarily at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Course instructors are Bob Child, BSc, FIIC, FSA, Head of Conservation, National Museum of Wales, and Sally Shelton, MA, Collections Conservation Specialist, San Diego Natural History Museum. Both are visiting lecturers to the International Centre for the Study and Restoration of Cultural Property (Rome), and have taught other IAP courses. Course fees are $225 for registrations postmarked on or before 1 September, $250 for those marked after. Course fees do not include transportation, lodging, or meal costs. For further information and registration, please contact Sally Shelton at the following address: San Diego Natural History Museum P. O. Box 1390 San Diego, CA 92112 phone (619) 232-3821, x226; FAX (619) 232-0248 email firstname.lastname@example.org Support for this course is provided in part by the Bay Foundation through a grant to International Academic Projects, London. --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:100>From email@example.com Sun Jul 17 00:13:54 1994 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 22:13:34 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Gosse and Omphalos I was encouraged to see Gosse's Omphalos taken somewhat seriously by both Phillipson and Winsor. I have, ever since being introduced to it more than 40 years ago by Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, considered Omphalos to be of the more ingenious creations of the human intellect. Phillipson comments that <It would be irreligious not to the best science we can, trying to make it better. Why did God put fossils there, if not for us to dig up and perform science upon?> Gosse, on pg 369-71 of his 372-page work, comments: "Finally, the acceptance of the principles presented in this volume, even in their fullest extent, would not, in the least degree, affect the study of scientific geology. The character and order of the strata; their disruptions and displacements; the successive floras and faunas; and all the other phenomena, would be facts still. They would still be, as now, legitimate subjects of examination and inquiry. I do not know that a single conclusion, now accepted, would need to be given up, except that of actual chronology. And even in respect of this, it would be rather a modification than a relinquishment of what is at present held; we might still speak of the inconceivably long duration of the processes in question, providing we understand ideal instead of actual time -- that the duration was projected in the mind of God, and not really existent. The zoologist would still use the fossil forms of non-existing animals, to illustrate the mutual analogies of species and groups. ..... He would still use the stony skeletons for the inculcation of lessons on the skill and power of God in creation; and would find them a rich mine of instruction, affording some examples of the adaptation of structure to function, which are not yielded by any extant species. Such are the elongation of the little finger in Pterodactylus, for the extension of the alar membrane; and the deflection of the inferior incisors in Dinotherium, for the purposes of digging or anchorage. ..... In short, the readings of the "stone book" will be found not less worthy of the God who wrote them, not less worthy of man who deciphers them, if we consider them as prochronically, then if we judge them diachronically, produced." Winsor comments that: "This unassailable, pure, perfect reconciliation was satisfying to neither camp, and still is not, because it implies that God has no compunction about deceiving us." Gosse was not unaware of this sort of objection, and he addressed it on pp 347 et seq: "It may be objected, that, to assume the world to have been created with fossil skeletons in its crust -- skeletons of animals that never really existed -- is to charge the creator with forming objects whose sole purpose was to deceive us. The reply is obvious. Were the concentric timber-rings of a created tree formed merely to deceive? Were the growth lines of a created shell intended to deceive? Was the navel of the created Man intended to deceive into the persuasion that he had a parent? These peculiarities of structure were inseparable from the adult stage of these creatures respectively, without which they would not have been what they were. The Locust-tree could not have been an adult Hymenoea, without concentric rings; -- nay, it could not have been an exogenous tree at all. The Dione could not have been a Dione without those foliations and spines that form its generic character. The Man would not have been a Man without a navel. To a physiologist this is obvious; but some unscientific reader may say, Could not God have created plants and animals without these retrospective marks? I distinctly reply, No! not so as to preserve their specific identity with those with we are familiar. A Tree-fern without scars on the trunk! A Palm without leaf-bases! A Bean without a hilum! A Tortoise without laminae on its plates! A Carp without concentric lines on its scales! A Bird without feathers! A Mammal without hairs, or claws, or teeth, or bones, or blood! ..... If, then, the existence of retrospective marks, visible and tangible proofs of processes which were prochronic, was so necessary to organic essences, that they could not have been created without them, -- is it absurd to suggest the possibility (I do no more) that the world itself was created under the influence of the same law, with visible tangible proofs of developments and processes, which yet were only prochronic." In a separate posting I send along a long excerpt from an essay by Dorothy Sayers in which she comments on Gosse (without mentioning him by name), and also the nature of reality and creativity. _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:101>From email@example.com Sun Jul 17 09:58:40 1994 Date: Sun, 17 Jul 94 07:53:52 PDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter H. Salus) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: no subject (file transmission) In general, I refrain from responding to items on the net, because I find most of it unproductive and resulting in merely raising my blood pressure. However, I feel it necessary to respond to Sally Thomason third-hand slighting of Sir William Jones. I would recommend that those interested in the topic at all either look at Jones himself (a complete reprint of the Works was done a year or so ago; there is an excellent selection in the anthology put together by S.S. Pachori (OUP, 1993) ) or at the excellent work by Aarsleff, Cannon, etc. Rosane Rocher's work on Halhed is especially revealing. Attempts at deconstruct real achievements on the part of pygmies are both irritating and futile. Peter (who wrote the Preface to Pachori) _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:102>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Jul 17 12:37:26 1994 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 10:36:58 -0700 To: email@example.com Subject: Dorothy Sayers from the grave on some recent postings From Creative Mind by Dorothy Sayers (an essay in Creed or Chaos? Methuen, London, 1947): Or take again the case of the word <reality>. No word occasions so much ill-directed argument. We are now emerging from a period when people were inclined to use it as though nothing were real unless it could be measured; and some old-fashioned materialists still use it so. But if you go back behind the dictionary meanings -- such as "that which has objective existence" -- and behind its philosophic history to the derivation of the word, you find that <reality> means "the thing thought." Reality is a concept; and a real object is that which corresponds to the concept. In ordinary conversation we still use the word in this way. When we say "those pearls are not real," we do not mean they cannot be measures; we mean that the measurement of their makeup does not correspond to the concept <pearl>, that, regarded as pearls, they are nothing more than an appearance; they are quite actual, but they are not real. As pearls, in fact, they have no objective existence. Professor Eddington is much troubled by the words <reality> and <existence>; in his Philosophy of Physical Science he can find no use or meaning for the word <existence> -- unless, he admits, it is taken to mean "that which is present in the thoughts of God." That, he thinks, is not the meaning usually given to it. But it is, in fact, the precise meaning, and the only meaning, given to it by the theologian. I have taken up a lot of your time with talk about words -- which may seem very far removed from the subject of creative mind. But I have two objects in doing so. The first is to warn you that my use of words will not always be your use of words, and that the words of the common poet -- the creator in words -- must never be interpreted absolutely, but only in relation to their context. They must be considered as fields of force, which disturb and are disturbed by their environment. Secondly, I want to place before you this passage from the works of Richard Hard -- an eighteenth-century English divine. "The source of bad criticism, as universally of bad philosophy, is the abuse of terms. A poet they say must follow nature; and by nature, we are to suppose, can only be meant the known and experienced course of affairs in this world. Whereas the poet has a world of his own, where experience has less to do than consistent imagination." It was the Royal Society who announced in 1687 that they "exacted from their members a close, naked, natural way of speaking ..... bringing all things as near the mathematical plainness as they can." Words, they imply, are not to be metaphorical or allusive or charged with incalculable associations -- but to approximate as closely as possible to mathematical symbols: "one word, one meaning." And to this Hard retorts in effect that, for the poet, this use of language is simply not "natural" at all. It is contrary to the nature of language and to the nature of the poet. The poet does not work by the analysis and measurement of observables, but by a "consistent imagination." Poets create, we may say, by building up new images, new intellectual concepts, new worlds, if you like, to form new consistent wholes, new unities out of diversity. And I should like to submit to you that this is in fact the way in which all creative mind works -- in the sciences as every where else -- in divine as well as in human creation, so far as we can observe and understand divine methods of creation. That is, that within our experience, creation proceeds by the discovery of new conceptual relations between things so as to form them into systems having a consistent wholeness corresponding to an image in the mind, and, consequently, possessing real existence. ............. For the next instance of consistent imagination, I will ask you to wander with me down a very curious, little bypath. It was during the last century that the great war was fought between churchmen and men of science over the theory of Evolution. We need not fight afresh every battle in that campaign. The scientists won their battle chiefly, or at any rate largely, with the help of the paleontologists and the biologists. It was made clear that the earlier history of the earth and its inhabitants could be reconstructed from fossil remains surviving in its present, and from vestigial structures remaining in the various plants and animals with which it is now peopled. It was scarcely possible to suppose any longer that God had created each species -- to quote the text of Paradise Lost -- "perfect forms, limb'd, and full grown," except on what seemed the extravagant assumption that, when creating the universe, he had at the same time provided it with the evidence of a purely imaginary past that had never had any actual existence. Now, the first thing to be said about this famous quarrel is that the churchmen need never have been perturbed at all about the method of creation, if they had remembered that the Book of Genesis was a book of poetical truth, and not intended as a scientific handbook of geology. They got into their difficulty, to a large extent, through having unwittingly slipped into accepting the scientistUs concept of the use of language, and supposing that a thing could not be true unless it was amenable to quantitative methods of proof. Eventually, and with many slips along the way, they contrived to clamber out of this false position; and today no reasonable theologian is at all perturbed by the idea that creation was effected by evolutionary methods. But, if the theologians had not lost touch with the nature of language; if they had not insensibly fallen into the eighteenth-century conception of the universe as a mechanism and God as the great engineer; if, instead, they had chosen to think of God as a great, imaginative artist -- then they might have offered a quite different interpretation of the facts, with rather entertaining consequences. They might, in fact, have seriously put forward the explanation I mentioned just now; that God had at some moment or other created the universe complete with all the vestiges of an imaginary past. I have said that this seemed an extravagant assumption; so it does, if thinks of God as a mechanician. But if one thinks of him as working in the same way as a creative artist, then it no longer seems extravagant, but the most natural thing in the world. It is the way every novel in the world is written. Every serious novelist starts with some or all of his characters "in perfect form and fully grown," complete with their pasts. Their present is conditioned by a past that exists, not fully on paper, but fully or partially in the creatorUs imagination. And as he goes on writing the book, he will -- especially if it is a long work, like The Forsyte Saga or the "Peter Wimsey" series -- plant from time to time in the text of the book allusions to that unwritten past. If his imagination is consistent, then all those allusions, all those, so to speak, planted fossils, will tell a story consistent with one another and consistent with the present and future actions of the characters. That is to say, that past, existing only in the mind of the maker, produces a true and measurable effect on the written part of the book, precisely as though it had, in fact, "taken place" within the work of art itself. If you have ever amused yourselves by reading some of the works of "spoof" criticism about Sherlock Holmes (e.g., Baker Street Studies, or H. W. Bell's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson), you will see just how far pseudoscientific method can be used to interpret these fossil remains scattered about the Sherlock Holmes stories, and what ingenuity can be used to force the indications into an apparent historical consistency. As regards the past of his characters, Conan Doyle's imagination was not, in fact, very consistent; there were lapses and contradictions, as well as lacunae. But let us suppose a novelist with a perfectly consistent imagination, who had contrived characters with an absolutely complete and flawless past history; and let us suppose, further, that the fossil remains were being examined by one of the characters, who (since his existence is contained wholly within the covers of the book just as ours is contained wholly within the universe) could not get outside the written book to communicate with the author. (This, I know, is difficult, rather like imagining the inhabitant of two-dimensional space, but it can be done,) Now, such a character would be in precisely the same position as a scientist examining the evidence that the universe affords of its own past. The evidence would all be there, it would all point in the same direction, and its effects would be apparent in the whole action of the story itself (that is, in what, for him, would be "real" history). There is no conceivable set of data, no imaginable line of reasoning, by which he could possibly prove whether or not that past had ever gone through the formality of taking place. On the evidence -- the fossil remains, the self-consistency of all the data, and the effects observable in himself and his fellow characters -- he would, I think, be forced to conclude that it had taken place. And, whether or no, he would be obliged to go on behaving as if it had taken place. Indeed, he could not by any means behave otherwise because he had been created by his maker as a person with those influences in his past. I think that if the churchmen had chosen to take up that position, the result would have been entertaining. It would have been a very strong position because it is one that cannot be upset by scientific proof. Probably, the theologians would have been deterred by a vague sense that a God who made his universe like this was not being quite truthful. But that would be because of a too limited notion of truth. In what sense is the unwritten past of the characters in a book less true than their behavior in it? Or if a prehistory that never happened exercises on history an effect indistinguishable from the effect it would have made by happening, what real difference is there between happening and not happening? If it is deducible from the evidence, self-consistent, and recognizable in its effects, it is quite real, whether or not it was actual. ............. You will probably be tempted, by your habit of mind, to ask -- what does all this prove? It does not, in the scientific sense of the word, prove anything. The function of imaginative speech is not to prove, but to create -- to discover new similarities and to arrange them to form new unities, to build new self-consistent worlds out of the universe of undifferentiated mind-stuff. Every activity has its own technique; the mistake is to suppose that the technique of one activity is suitable for all purposes. In scientific reasoning for example, the poetUs technique of metaphor and analogy is inappropriate and even dangerous -- its use leads to conclusions that are false to science, that build it new unities out of quantitative likenesses, and things that are numerically comparable. The error of the Middle Ages, on the whole, was to use analogical, metaphorical, poetical techniques for the investigation of scientific questions. But increasingly, since the seventeenth century, we have tended to the opposite error -- that of using the quantitative methods of science for the investigation of poetic truth. But to build poetic systems of truth, the similarities must be, not quantitative, but qualitative, and the new unity that will emerge will be a world of new values. Here, metaphor and analogy are both appropriate and necessary -- for both these processes involve the arranging of things according to some quality that the dissimilars have in common: thus (to go back to my earlier simile) common language and an infuriated cat, though in quantitative respects very unlike, have in common a certain quality of intractability. And thus, too, the associative values of words, which make them such bad tools for the scientist, make them the right tools for the poet, for they facilitate the establishment of similarities between many widely differing concepts, and so make easy the task of the creative imagination building up its poetic truths. Vincent Sarich firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:103>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Jul 17 22:00:15 1994 Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 23:01:28 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Stories we like to tell in the historical sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Polly Winsor asks about heroic (or otherwise) stories we like to tell in the historical sciences. I can offer an anecdote about one. I teach a small course for first-year undergraduates on Darwin and the Origin of Species; it's a mixture of science, history, and how to write complete sentences and paragraphs. I always devote one meeting to telling the Darwin/Wallace story: how Darwin had been working for years on descent and natural selection, and how Wallace, in a malarial fit in Indonesia, came up with the very same ideas regarding natural selection, wrote them down in a couple of days, and sent his manuscript to Darwin, not knowing that Darwin had already come to the same conclusion. This past year after I told the story, one student came up to me and said with genuine enthusiasm: "That was great. It kept my attention through the whole class." I smiled politely, and thought to myself, "Gee, I'm really glad you enjoy all the rest of our classes so much." After this encounter I did toy with the idea of teaching an entire course through short stories, biographical and otherwise, but I haven't the skill or background to carry through with such a plan at the moment. It does seem as though it might be worth trying sometime, though. A very thought-provoking paper on some of the rhetorical characteristics of writing in the historical sciences is: Miller, Carolyn R., & S. Michael Halloran. 1993. Reading Darwin, reading nature; or, on the ethos of historical science. Pp. 106-126 in: _Understanding Scientific Prose) (Jack Selzer, ed.). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Polly and others might find it of interest. I think there is much more to be done along the lines that Miller and Halloran sketch. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:104>From email@example.com Sun Jul 17 22:45:40 1994 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 20:45:11 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Thomason, Salus, and historical linguistics, Part 1 If this is flaming, or something too close to it, I apologize -- and if you think it is, please ignore Part 2. Let me strongly second Peter Salus' comments on the Thomason posting. I think the Darwin-L community should also be aware that Jones here is a proxy for Joseph Greenberg, whose Language in the Americas is to most linguists as the Origin of Species is to the Institute for Creation Research. Those of you interested in the quality of the arguments involved here might want to look at some of Lyle Campbell's (recommended by Thomason) efforts. I include some of his most egregious. The first is from an article co-authored with Terence Kaufman which appeared in the American Anthropologist 85: 362-372 (1983): "We do not take at all kindly to WB's (1981:908) caricature of our reservations concerning widespread forms, called Pan-Americanisms by some, for such reservation is a standard criterion of distant genetic research in the Americas (Campbell 1973). We in no way appealed to or necessarily believe in the hypothesis attributed to us of "a gigantic Proto-Amerind phylum" (WB 1981:908), rather we made reference to the legitimate practice in the investigation of remote relationships in the Americas of avoiding widespread forms. It is generally recognized that certain forms recur with similar sound and meaning in very many American Indian languages (cf. Swadesh 1954). Acknowledgement of the widespread forms presupposes no particular explanation; while some may feel that these support some far-flung genetic connection (cf. Swadesh 1954; 1967; Greenberg, 1960; etc.), it is possible that some widely shared similarities may be due to onomatopoeia, sound symbolism, perhaps diffusion, accident, or other undetermined factors." (pp 365-6) Here Campbell and Kaufman, in their second rejoinder to Witkowski and Brown, slip over into caricature. It is frankly difficult to believe that even they take what they write here seriously. Their words here make it clear that whatever it is that they are doing, it isn't science -- though, it has to be noted here, it is, for much of recent American Indian linguistics, a perfectly representative statement. Yet consider how much illogic it exhibits in so few words. Campbell and Kaufman write, apparently oblivious to the import of their words, of "the legitimate practice in the investigation of remote relationships in the Americas of avoiding widespread forms." How remarkably convenient -- if you don't like the conclusion, then just rid yourself of the only data which could possibly lead to it. What, one wonders, would they say about a zoologist who wrote of "the legitimate practice in the investigation of remote relationships among organisms of avoiding certain widespread forms such as the presence of feathers, hair, tetrapod limbs, or amniotic eggs"? How else are "remote relationships" to be investigated other than by documenting "widespread forms"? Then we get the obligatory mantra when they tell us that these "widely shared similarities may be due to onomatopoeia, sound symbolism, perhaps diffusion, accident, or other undetermined factors." Well, yes, so they might -- indeed, we can be quite certain that all of these, including the "undetermined" ones, will have been involved, to some extent, in producing linguistic "similarities". But, as already noted at some length, the critical point here is that, in the absence of written records, there is no possible way of even beginning to isolate and identify those similarities resulting from "onomatopoeia, etc" UNTIL one has developed the phylogenetic tree linking the languages under study. What that tree cannot explain, and there will always be a good deal that it cannot, is then to be looked at for evidence of "onomatopoeia, etc." But it is obviously and inherently true that ANY similarity could be "explained" by appealing to these other factors. It is just as obviously true that this is not the case for phylogenetic explanations. The latter are falsifiable; the former are not -- or, more fairly, they are not until we have the tree of relationships. That most linguists writing on the subject refuse to take cognizance of these elementary tenets of the scientific enterprise is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of contemporary "discussions" concerning language relationships in the Americas. Campbell has repeated the same message more recently in, among other places, his review of Language in the Americas for Language 64:591-615 (1988): "To evaluate LIA properly, legitimate methods in remoter genetic research, together with the proper cautions that their use dictates, must be considered. I take these up here, concentrating on criteria needed to establish a proposed remote relationship as plausible; these same criteria serve also to evaluate such proposals, LIA among them. To begin, one must assemble a number of similarities and matchings, and then one must take care to eliminate (or at least qualify) all which lack sufficient semantic or phonetic similarity, or which could be explained by factors other than common ancestry -- e.g. borrowing, chance, onomatopoeia, sound symbolism, and universal or typological interconnections. Convincing proposals must minimize these other possible explanations of the compared material, leaving the genetic explanation as the most probable. Unsuccessful proposals do not usually fail because of lack of similarities or matchings, but because of the lack of care in distinguishing genetic from nongenetic potential accounts of these." and in a letter last year to Scientific American May 1993, pg 12: "Greenberg's methods have been disproved. Similarities between languages can be the result of chance, borrowing, onomatopoeia, sound symbolism and other causes. For a proposal of remote family relationship to be plausible, one must eliminate the other possible explanations." I shall repeat myself by quoting fairly extensively from a recent manuscript of mine entitled Occam's Razor and Historical Linguistics. Anyone who wants to read the whole thing just ask by e-mail. This lengthy quote is a second posting. Vincent Sarich email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:105>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Jul 17 22:51:01 1994 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 20:50:32 -0700 To: email@example.com Subject: Thomason, Salus, and historical linguistics, Part 2 As noted in Part 1, the following is part of a manuscript entitled Occam's Razor and Historical Linguistics. It is available for the asking. Occam's Razor The question of differentiating "acculturation" from an "Ursprache" as the explanation of similarities between two languages remains, and many more recent writings make it clear that it remains current. And it is here that Sapir could have, but didn't, tell us just what was fundamentally wrong with the world view that said you had to start with "acculturation"; i.e, diffusion or horizontal transmission, and only come to the "Ursprache", or common ancestry, hypothesis after you had found "acculturation" wanting as the explanation. So let me, 74 years after the fact, and most presumptuously, try to say what Sapir ought to have said. To begin, let me repeat that it is a difference in world view that we are dealing with here. Absent a direct, written, historical record, one could never provide linguistic data which would allow, in general, an objective decision as to whether similarities among languages are due to "acculturation" or an "Ursprache" -- from here on, diffusion/horizontal transmission or common ancestry. After all, it is not as if diffusion is some relatively rare, undocumented phenomenon. It happens frequently, and we all know it does. That isn't what the argument is all about. What it is all about is whether, given a reasonable choice between diffusion or common ancestry as the explanation of perceived similarities among a group of languages under study, one chooses the one or the other TO BEGIN WITH. In other words, is one's working hypothesis, as compared to conclusion, going to be common ancestry, or is it going to be diffusion? Put this way, it becomes obvious that the choice between the two has to be made in terms of their relative productivities and testabilities -- and, once that point is grasped, the choice is clear. Why? Start with some of the languages Boas dealt with in his 1894 article and 1907 letter: Tlingit, Haida, and some Athapascan tongue; and consider the similarities among them. There can be no doubt that these are many and marked. Boas said so in 1894 and 1907 (see quotes above), and so did Levine in his 1977 doctoral dissertation (The Skidegate Dialect of Haida, Columbia, p 11): "Thus there are signs of a developing concensus within Na-Dene studies that a proto-Athapaskan-Eyak-Tlingit did indeed exist, and that extremely prolonged contact between this language or its daughter languages and the ancestors of modern Haida is entirely adequate as an explanation of resemblances between Haida and the revised Na-Dene group." Note that Levine goes seemingly out of his way to tell us just how many and marked these similarities are when writes "EXTREMELY PROLONGED CONTACT". Why the necessity for such a strong phrase? Presumably because there are extremely obvious; i.e., many, and marked similarities, resulting from this "extremely prolonged" contact. And it has to be conceded that this "extremely prolonged contact" is in fact "entirely adequate as an explanation of resemblances ....." But an entirely adequate explanation is by no means the same as the best explanation. The reason is a simple one. Levine's "entirely adequate explanation" requires first a differentiation between Haida and proto-Athapaskan-Eyak-Tlingit (whether from a common source is neither here nor there), as diffusing similarities is obviously logically impossible, followed by a lengthy period of contact -- in other words, 3 separate events/processes. It also has to be noted here that this matter of producing the differences in the first place is simply ignored; that is, Boas and his intellectual descendants seem to take for granted the existence of all these different languages. But if diffusion were the force they claim it to be, then how did these languages get to be so different from one another? That matter is never addressed, and it is difficult to resist the suggestion that the penchant for behavioral creationist thinking produced an unconscious creationist scenario for languages -- they had not evolved away from one another, but were simply created different. The common ancestry explanation, on the other hand, requires but a single event/process -- the development/existence of a proto-Na-Dene. This sort of choice, then, is not a difficult one to make, and hasn't been so for more than 600 years. Bertrand Russell, in his Wisdom of the West, tells us that William of Ockham (or Occam) (ca 1300-1349) wrote something along the lines of "it is vain to do with more what can be done with less." For Occam the entities in question were the forms, substance, and the like, with which traditional metaphysicians were concerned. Later thinkers primarily interested in questions of scientific method then gave his insight a more familiar twist -- entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem -- entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Occam's razor, as it has become to be called, is then, for us, a general principle of economy; that is, if a simple explanation will do, it is counterproductive to seek a more complex one. I am of course not oblivious to the fact that a great deal of mischief can be involved in defining "simple" and "complex", but most scientists would agree that the dimensions involved here are the number of real-time events necessary to explain the observations, directionalities, and testability. And we accept Occam's Razor for a very simple reason -- it works better than anything else we have. This is hardly to say that it is perfect; that is, it always leads to the correct choice among competing alternatives. Nature does not have to be parsimonious. But science does. Science without the principle of parsimony isn't science. Thus the ultimate answer to Boas lies in the realm of whether historical linguists are to play the game using the same rules as other scientists. The fact here is that there is no similarity between two languages that could not, in principle, be explained by diffusion. Yet the fact is that no one, in practice, chooses this explanatory mode. Levine, for example, accepts Tlingit-(Eyak/Athapaskan) and Eyak/Athapascan as genetic units; that is, each can be defined by shared innovations (the biologist would say shared derived features, or, in the cladist jargon, synapomorphies) which occurred along lineages of common ancestry. This is logically necessary, as no one today is going to put himself in the position of overtly positing "created different" as an explanation of differences. But the differences are necessary to make diffusion possible, and thus one has to leaven one's discussion with at least some genetic linkages among the languages concerned. Yet what is it about Tlingit-(Eyak/Athapascan) similarities that allows us to conclude that the three form a genetic unit, while forcing us to conclude that those between them and Haida are best explained by appealing to diffusion? We are not usually told. Nor, given that we are usually talking in terms of similarities and differences in degree, rather than in kind, could we be. This, then, as noted above, becomes a directionality problem. Do we start with diffusion as our working hypothesis, and then go on to common ancestry as necessary; or do we start with common ancestry, and go on to diffusion after having demonstrated that common ancestry is an inadequate explanation? The answer here is simple and straightforward. If we start with diffusion, it will never be found wanting. There is, in principle, no similarity among languages that could not be explained by diffusion. And the diffusion hypothesis can, therefore, make no falsifiable predictions. One might ask, however, why this isn't equally true of a common ancestry explanation? Why could not common ancestry, in principle, also explain all similarities among languages, and thus be equally untestable? The basic reason is that any common ancestry explanation is going to be very severely constrained by having to provide, and conform to, some sort of statement about the actual genetic relationships involved; that is, a phylogenetic tree. It isn't generally appreciated just how severe a constraint this is. If, for example, we have even as few as 10 seemingly related languages, there are 2,027,025 possible unrooted, bifurcating trees linking them. Yet it is a rare comparative data set involving a reasonable range of degrees of difference among the constituent units which will not objectively exclude all but a very small number of those possible trees -- provided one accepts the principle of parsimony. ......... One might ask here, "Well, couldn't one do just as well in a diffusionist mode if one accepted the same principle?" The answer has to be, "Yes, but if you accept parsimony as a guiding principle, then you have already ruled out diffusion as the primary hypothesis." If you don't accept parsimony, of course, then there is nothing to agree on as a guiding principle, and we might as well go back to arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It Isn't Just the Linguists A. L. Kroeber, one of the greatest of all anthropologists and the founder of my Department, wrote in his Anthropology (1948:179): "In the approach to the problem, one consideration stands out. If the human races are identical in capacity, or if, though not absolutely alike, they average substantially the same in the sum total of their capacities, then such differences as they have shown in their history or show in their present condition must evidently be the result mainly of circumstances external to heredity. In that case, knowledge of the historical or environmental circumstances, and analysis of the latter, become all-important to understanding. On the other hand, if hereditary racial inequalities exist, one can expect that the historical or cultural influences, however great they may be, will nevertheless tend to have their origin in the hereditary factors and to reinforce them. In that case, differences between two groups would be due partly to underlying heredity and partly to overlying cultural forces tending on the whole in the same direction. Yet even in that case, before one could begin to estimate the strength of the true racial factors, the historical one would have to be subtracted. Thus, in either event, the true crux of the problem lies in the recognition and stripping-off of cultural, social, or environmental factors, so far as possible, from the complex mass of phenomena which living human groups present. In proportion as these social or acquired traits can be determines and discounted, the innate and truly racial ones will be isolated, and can then be examined, weighed, and compared. Such, at any rate, is a reasonable plan of procedure. We are looking for the inherent, ineradicable elements in a social animal that has everywhere built up around himself an environment -- namely his culture -- in which he mentally lives and breathes. It is precisely because in the present inquiry we wish to get below the effects of culture that we must be ready to concern ourselves considerably with these effects, actual or possible." Although written many years ago, the message remains current. Its resilience is documented, just to note 2 recent efforts in the genre, in Degler's scholarly In Search of Human Nature and John Horgan's semi-popular Eugenics revisited in Scientific American, teased on the cover for the duller among us as The dubious link between genes and behavior. The problem with Kroeber's apparently sensible advice, at least for anyone who accepts that we evolved from non-human ancestors, is that it cannot possibly work. One cannot proceed by "the recognition and stripping-off of cultural, social, or environmental factors", for the simple reason that nothing would be left after the effort -- and this is almost certainly why it is generally put this way. The point is that there is essentially no observation about human behavior that could not be "explained" by some combination of "social, cultural, or environmental factors", just as there is no similarity among languages that could not be "explained" by diffusion. Start with diffusion, and nothing could possibly be left to explain. But just as diffusion, in a world which evolved, presupposes differentiation (obviously you cannot diffuse similarities), and, therefore, a larger number of events, so too does an appeal to "social, cultural, and environmental factors" in explanations of human behavior. Now note here than in arguing this one is not being so silly as to deny the fact that diffusion does occur, and that it is necessary to appeal to it as the correct explanation of any number of similarities among various languages; nor to deny the enormous effect of "social, cultural, and environmental factors". We, after all, are not conceived (this term is used in literal physical sense; that is, ovum plus sperm) as physical, social, or moral adults, nor is there anyone who could deny this reality. But the point here is that those social, cultural, and environmental factors have to have something to work on (just as diffusional processes have to have something to work on), and that something has a specific individual genetic structure that evolved over time. One does not apply Occam's razor; that is, reduce the number of real-time events necessary to explain a set of observations, by ignoring those which did actually occur. Nor does opt for impossible directionalities. Conclusion There exists, and has, for a long time, a very strange situation among, in particular, American historical linguists. I have attempted, though hardly exhaustively, to document it here. I have also indicated why Boas took the anti-evolutionary position he did. Why people like Campbell, Kaufman, Bright, Goddard, and on and on, hold their untenable positions is not at all as clear. I can only suggest that they wish to remain big fish in their little linguistic ponds, and not become little fish in the very large pond that is Greenberg's Amerind. ------------------------------------------------------ Vincent Sarich firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:106>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Mon Jul 18 00:28:13 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 01:29:28 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: July 18 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JULY 18 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1635: ROBERT HOOKE born at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, England. Though he will be remembered primarily as an experimentalist associated with the Royal Society, Hooke's researches will range widely, covering in addition to mathematics and mechanics, geology and the nature of fossils as well: "My first Proposition then is, That all, or the greatest part of these curiously figured Bodies found up and down in divers Parts of the World, are either those Animal or Vegetable Substances they represent converted into Stone, by having their Pores fill'd up with some petrifying liquid Substance, whereby their Parts are, as it were, lock'd up and cemented together in their Natural Position and Contexture; or else they are the lasting Impressions made on them at first, whilst a yielding Substance by the immediate Application of such Animal or Vegetable body as was so shaped, and that there was nothing else concurring to their Production, save only the yielding of the Matter to receive the Impression, such as heated Wax affords to the Seal; or else a subsiding or hardning of the Matter, after by some kind of Fluidity it had perfectly fill'd or inclosed the figuring Vegetable or Animal Substance, after the manner as a Statue is made of Plaister of Paris, or Alabaster-dust beaten, and boil'd, mixed with Water and poured into a Mould." (From _Lectures and Discourses of Earthquakes, and Subterraneous Eruptions. Explicating The Causes of the Rugged and Uneven Face of the Earth; and What Reasons may be given for the frequent finding of Shells and other Sea and Land Petrified Substances, scattered over the whole Terrestrial Superficies_, London, 1705.) Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences. For more information about Darwin-L send the two-word message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org, or gopher to rjohara.uncg.edu (220.127.116.11). _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:107>From email@example.com Mon Jul 18 08:10:50 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: no subject (file transmission) Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 09:12:01 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <email@example.com> I thank Peter Salus for his reminder that I wasn't clear in my posting on the Sir William Jones myth: I did not intend at all to take anything away from his considerable achievements in various fields, or from the eloquence (and correctness) of his statement about Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, etc. It isn't his fault, after all, if 20th-century linguists have made a myth out of his most famous linguistic utterance, and it isn't a criticism (and I meant none) of an 18th-century scholar to say that he didn't have the knowledge and methodological expertise of the late 19th century. (I have to add here, though, that the Hungarian Gyarmathi, also in the late 18th century, *did* reportedly carry out something very like later 19th-century methodology in comparing Hungarian and Finnish and pointing to systematic correspondences that, he believed, argued for a relationship. I say "reportedly" here because I haven't read Gyarmathi; this story too is in all the handbooks. And, it goes on, the reason Gyarmathi gets only a footnote in the history of historical linguistics, while the 19th-century giants -- many of them monosyllabic Germanic types, Grimm, Bopp, Pott, Rask, etc. -- get the glory is that Gyarmathi was working on unfashionable languages, while they were working on Germanic languages.) In any case, in the Jones myth, the blame, if any accrues to setting up a myth, goes to the 20th-century linguists who have misunderstood and sometimes misused his linguistic findings, certainly not to Jones himself. I bet he's not the only intellectual giant of the past this has happened to. Sally Thomason firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:108>From email@example.com Mon Jul 18 08:37:14 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Thomason, Salus, and historical linguistics, Part 1 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 09:38:26 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <email@example.com> It's only because I try hard to avoid ad hominem discussions that I didn't mention Joseph Greenberg in my posting on the Sir William Jones myth. It's true, as Vince Sarich suggests, that Greenberg and his colleague Merritt Ruhlen are the most prominent current linguists who appeal to the methods of Sir William Jones as evidence that their own very similar methodology is valid. But I don't think Greenberg and Ruhlen are the only modern linguists who have used Jones in this way; and, as I said in my initial posting on the myth, introductory linguistics textbooks do present Jones, at least implicitly, as a proto-historical linguist, because of his famous dictum about Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, etc. Ad hominem arguments about substantive matters are not, to my mind, the way to carry on scholarly discourse. Even if someone is acting in bad faith, with inappropriate personal motivations for arguing a particular position, I think the only way to discuss the issues is to discuss the issues -- that is, to analyze the arguments, not their proponents' psyches. So I won't comment on Sarich's substantive points here, especially as I doubt if this discussion would be all that interesting to nonlinguists. But if anyone is interested in the substantive points Sarich raises, some of them are discussed in a paper I wrote several years ago; it's supposed to appear in a volume edited by Allan Taylor, to be published by Stanford University Press, but there's no sign of its appearance yet. If the book ever does appear, people will be able to read a variety of perspectives on the Greenberg controversy. The reason I mention my own paper is that that's the only one I can offer to send to people. If you'd like to see it, send me email (to me privately, not to the whole list by REPLY mode!). I won't actually be able to send copies out until I'm back in Pittsburgh in September -- I'm out of town for the summer -- but I'll keep a list. The paper is called "Hypothesis generation vs. hypothesis testing: A comparison between Greenberg's classifications in Africa and in the Americas". (The paper, and the putative book, come from a conference devoted to examination of Greenberg's American classification.) Sally Thomason firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:109>From email@example.com Mon Jul 18 08:49:32 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 09:51:51 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (J. A. Witkowski (Banbury Center, CSHL)) Subject: Re: On the shoulders of giants The discussion of the "...standing on the shoulder's..." quotation brings to mind another one involving standing: "... I want to stand at the rim of the world , and peer into the darkness beyond, and see a little more than others have seen of the strange shapes of mystery that inhabit that unknown night." (This is from a letter written by Bertrand Russell to Collette O'Neil (the stage name of Lady Constance Malleson) in 1918. Russell was in Brixton prison at the time, serving a six-month sentence for "...having in a printed publication made certain statements likely to prejudice His Majesty's relations with the United States of America"). Did he manage to do it? What is the current assessment of Russell's contributions to knowledge? _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:110>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Jul 18 09:55:53 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 07:56:54 PDT From: email@example.com (Peter H. Salus) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Thomason, Salus, and historical linguistics, Part 1 I'd like to turn this a bit to an examination of Jones, whom I admire tremendously, only very slightly for the few sentences from the 9th Anniversary Discourse which linguists mis-use and (as Sally points out correctly) mythologize. Jones was a true savant of the later 18th century. His reputation as a jurist, translator and poet preceded his years in India by several decades. Jones' essay on the law of bailments, for example, remained the standard in Britain and on this side of the Atlantic till the first world war (I own a copy from the 1890s printed in Hartford). His translations from the Persian were what influenced FitzGerald to "do" the Rubaiyat. His "Caissa, or the game at chess," influenced Franklin (then in Passy). His translations of Isaeus are still robust. He was elected to The Club weeks before Boswell was. His conception of and presidency over the Asiatick [sic] Society of Bengal made it the oldest of such learned societies, half a century older than (say) the AOS. Jones' work on the Indian philosophers is cited by Schopenhauer in the first chapter of The Will...; his essay on Indian music is still cited; with his essay on the Indic and Graeco-Roman pantheons he initiated the field of comparative religion; with his translation of the Shakuntala he influenced Goethe and Emerson directly and all of the Romantic Movement indirectly. His statue at St Paul's has him holding the translation of the Manusmrti. He was seen as a jurist and comparatist. One could say much, much more. Read Pachori or Cannon or (even) me... Peter _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:111>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Mon Jul 18 10:08:41 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 11:09:54 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Subspecies, myths, and cabbages To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro The following comes from Peter Stevens, in response to the earlier queries regarding subspecies, and the role of disciplinary histories/myths in the historical sciences. Bob O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) --begin forwarded message-------------- The earliest references to subspecies about which I know (and I have not looked hard) are in the german literature: Konrad Sprengel (Anleitung zur Kenntniss der Gewachse, p. 123, ed. 2, 1817) and Link (-Elementa philosophiae botanicae-, p. 441. 1824) distinguished subspecies from varieties; the former (cabbages and cauliflowers) bred true, while the latter did not. Even earlier in 1784 J. F. Ehrhardt (see Chater & Brummitt, Taxon 15: 98, 1966) defined subspecies (also "Halbarten" or "Scheinarten") as "plants which agree in essentials almost completely with each other, and are often so similar to each other that an inexperienced person has trouble in separating them, and about which one can conjecture, not without reason, that they had formerly a common mother, notwithstanding that they now always produce their like from seed." (!!: see also Link, -Philosophica botanica-, p. 197. 1798; Willdenow, Grundriss der Krauterkunde, p. 223. 1792 [he thought such subspecies were really species]; Persoon, -Synopsis plantarum-, 1805 [his subspecies perhaps were doubtful species]). (Note that the more complex early infraspecific hierarchies often involved cultivated plants.) But the rank of subspecies did not "take". And myths? George Bentham, the great English systematist of the middle of the 19thC (Jeremy Bentham's nephew); an amateur with no formal education, selflessly spending his whole time on botany, producing some of the classics of 19thC. botanical literature (the -Flora australiense-, the -Genera plantarum- [with J. D. Hooker]). Bentham is certainly up there in the pantheon in histories of British botany. I used to think (when I was young/younger than I am now) that such a life would be ideal, and that if I could secure remuneration of ca 500 pounds sterling per annum I would be set for a similar life.... Certainly, a Ph. D. would not be necessary. Of course, Bentham did not produce his classifications -in vacuo-, and I do not think that it detracts to situate his work in the context of mid nineteenth C. British Imperialism. Certainly, it helps us appreciate the tensions that underly his classifications, and to understand why they are not classifications in a conventional sense. If the Bentham I thought I knew had not existed, would I be where I am now (and would that be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?)? Peter Stevens <email@example.com> --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:112>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Jul 18 11:20:32 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 11:58:49 -0400 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: cultural evolution, consistency and truth The idea that beliefs are parasites is intriguing, but I'm not sure that the biological analogy is being taken a little too far. E.B. Tylor in 1871 defined culture as: "That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [people] as members of society." Culture is actively taught and learned by members of society; this is the process of acculturation. An anology here, which may make cultural evolution seem Darwinian, may be to see mistakes in the process as mutations. It is possible to imagine a variety of ways in which mistakes can be made when culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. If we couple the abilities and idiosyncracies of both the teacher and the learner, it is possible that a tremendous amount of individual variation in beleifs is created. It is also possible that groups of learners who share a common teacher and other learning variables would produce some kind of "variety" of cultural beliefs. It is also possible that the probability of producing any given error is independent of its fitness. I studied at Cornell, and was therefore influenced by Hockett, so my readiness to accept Chomsky's structuralism is inhibited. On the other hand, Levi-Strauss has been applying structuralism to culture for some time. Tylor long ago suggested that the ways in which humans could solve problems is limited, which would result in duplications across geographical regions and which would not be related to diffusion. spencer turkel email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:113>From FBIO2024@ALTAIR.SELU.EDU Mon Jul 18 11:38:34 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 11:39:23 -0500 (CDT) From: FBIO2024@ALTAIR.SELU.EDU Subject: Re: Subspecies, myths, and cabbages To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Southeastern Louisiana University Many thanks to Bob O'Hara and Peter Stevens for some early history on subspecies. It is interesting that as a zoologist, my search has been confined to the zoological literature. How narrow of me. But anyway, here is another tidbit about the origins of "subspecies". Apparently the first usage of a trinomial in conjunction with the label or category subspecies was by H. Schlegel in 1844 in a description of variation in a group of birds. Brian I. Crother email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:114>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Mon Jul 18 11:47:30 1994 Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 12:43:59 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Materials for a course in History of Genetics To: firstname.lastname@example.org may i ask how you define the word historigraphy? how does that differ from history? a nonhistorian _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:115>From email@example.com Mon Jul 18 18:30:07 1994 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu Subject: historical linguistics Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 19:31:24 EDT From: Don Ringe <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear Colleagues-- Since the matter's been raised on this list, I think readers ought to be aware that most linguists' rejection of the claims of Greenberg and Ruhlen is based on solid principles; it isn't a matter of prejudice, nor does it reflect an inability to think straight. For example, many take issue with G & R's methodology because the inexact method of comparison they use makes it impossible to determine whether the similarities on which they base their claims of language relationship are significantly greater than could reasonably have arisen by chance alone. Professor Greenberg, at least, has been confronted with this objection repeatedly (in several different versions), but his published responses don't seem to address it (cf. e.g. the exchange in *Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society* 137 (1993), No. 1, pp. 79-109). G & R do say explicitly that the likelihood of chance resemblances is so vanishingly small that it can safely be ignored; those who wish to evaluate that claim might begin by examining the math on which it is based (laid out in *Scientific American*, Nov. 1992, p. 98). I emphasize that the reasons most of us reject G & R's work aren't arcane; if you work through the first few chapters of an elementary text on applied probability theory (up through the point at which the binomial coefficient is introduced) and learn a little basic old-fashioned phonology (the phoneme, phonotactics, and the distribution of phonemes), you've got all the tools you need to judge for yourself. --Don Ringe, Linguistics, U. of Pennsylvania _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:116>From email@example.com Mon Jul 18 19:31:25 1994 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu Subject: CORRECTION Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 20:32:42 EDT From: Don Ringe <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear Colleagues-- This is a correction to my previous posting. I did not mean to say that Greenberg & Ruhlen's method actually makes it *impossible* to determine whether the similarities they're finding are significantly greater- than-chance; I meant to say that *they* have not been able to show that those similarities are significantly greater-than-chance. I will try to be more careful about how I put things. --Don Ringe _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:117>From email@example.com Tue Jul 19 06:55:00 1994 Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 07:56:52 EDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kent Holsinger) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: historical linguistics The recent debate about Greenberg and Ruhlen's methodology prompted me to wonder if historical linguist's critique of G & R has any parallel in evolutionary biology. I think there is one. Let me describe it briefly and see whether the linguists here agree. Suppose we have a sample of genetic data from N populations. To keep things simple, let's suppose the data consists of allele frequency estimates at a series of independently inherited loci. With this data it is possible to calculate the similarity or difference between any pair of populations. It doesn't make any difference which of the several measures of similarity or difference we use, so let's assume that we have calculated Nei's genetic distance between all N(N-1)/2 pairs of populations. Evolutionists have commonly used distance measures of this sort to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among the set of N populations. Joe Felsenstein pointed out over 10 years ago, however, that there is a potential problem with this procedure. For *any* pattern of pairwise genetic distances two different types of explanation are possible: (1) The least distant populations have the most recent common ancestor and the most distant populations have the least recent common ancestor, i.e., the pattern of distance reflects the pattern of historical relationship among the set of populations. (2) The least distant populations exchange individuals more frequently than the most distant populations, and individuals that are incorporated into a new population are able to reproduce there, i.e., the pattern of distance reflects the frequency with which populations exchange genes. Felsentstein showed that with allele frequency data alone it is not possible to distinguish (1) from (2). In fact, it's not possible to distinguish either (1) or (2) from an appropriate combination of the two either. To distinguish (1) from (2) requires either evidence that the populations are not reproductively compatible or additional data about the historical relationships of the alleles. It appears to me that the dispute between G & R and other historical linguists, basing my opinion only on what I've read here, centers on the question of whether similarity in vocabulary among languages is a result of (1) or (2). G & R seem to assert that the similarity they find is a result of (1) while most other historical linguists assert either that the data G & R present does not allow (1) to be distinguished from (2) or that (2) is a better explanation of the similarities G & R find. Is that a reasonable summary of the dispute? Is the disagreement between G & R and other historical linguists similar to the disagreements among biologists about when (whether) distance methods can be used to uncover historical relationships? -- Kent +------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Kent E. Holsinger Internet: Kent@Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu | | Department of Ecology & Holsinge@UConnVM.UConn.Edu | | Evolutionary Biology BITNET: Holsinge@UConnVM | | University of Connecticut, U-43 | | Storrs, CT 06269-3043 | +------------------------------------------------------------------------+ _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:118>From PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA Tue Jul 19 11:00:02 1994 Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 11:59:30 -0500 (EST) From: MARC PICARD <PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA> Subject: Re: On the shoulders of giants To: firstname.lastname@example.org I'd like to thank everyone whos responded, either privately or on the list, to my query about a comment I thought Einstein had made about standing on the shoulders of giants. Although one respondent mentioned that the quote was from the introductory chapter to ALBERT EINSTEIN: PHILOSOPHER SCIENTIST (and that's probably where I saw it long ago), it seems clear that it was Newton who said: "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants". It is also clear that the imagery was not originally his, as a few people pointed out. For example, there was Robert Burton's "a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants may see further than a giant himself" Bernard de Chartres' "we, like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, can see more and farther, not because we are keener and taller, but because of the greatness by which we are carried and exalted", and Lucan's "pygmies placed on the shoulders of giants see more than the giants themselves" Marc Picard _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:119>From email@example.com Tue Jul 19 11:58:38 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: historical lx Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 12:59:54 EDT From: Don Ringe <email@example.com> Dear Colleagues-- Many thanks to Kent Holsinger for his interesting posting. Our collective disagreement with many "long-range" language comparatists (including, but not limited to, Prof. Greenberg and Ruhlen) actually goes deeper than that: we're saying that the methods they use cannot distinguish between homologous and analogous characters (!). At issue, of course, is how to identify homologous characters in comparative/historical linguistics. The standard criteria are very strict; many "long rangers" insist that they are too strict. The rest of us are not convinced. Further, I'm suggesting that the problem goes even deeper than *that*. I'm saying that no long-range comparatist has even shown cogently that the similarities on which his or her proposal of relationship are based are distinguishable from random noise. This is not a positive claim--that is, I'm not claiming that the similarities adduced in, say *Language in the Americas* are demonstrably well within the expected random range; I'm saying that *we don't know yet*, and before any long-range claims can be taken seriously their proponents must at least show that the evidence adduced passes this minimal test of plausibility. That seems unobjectionable to me, but it's met with a great deal of resistance. But the most interesting thing in the whole picture is that, according to (admittedly primitive) preliminary tests, the linguistic similarities on which the standard methods are based do pass the basic "greater-than-chance" test of plausibility. So far as I know, standard "Neogrammarian" methods were not devised with that in mind, so this limited finding amounts to independent corroboration that the standard methods are at least getting at *something* in the raw data (not that any of us doubted it). I say "so far as I know" because of an interesting historical quirk: one of the Neogrammarian generation, Hermann Grassmann, was also an eminent mathematician. Does anybody know whether his work reveals cross-fertilization of his two fields? Cheers! --Don Ringe _______________________________________________________________________________ <11:120>From GGALE@VAX1.UMKC.EDU Tue Jul 19 12:40:30 1994 Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 12:40:35 -0600 (CST) From: GGALE@VAX1.UMKC.EDU Subject: Totally germane discussion from LINGUIST (LINGUIST@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU) forwarded by firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 12:45 GMT From: James M Scobbie <SPSCOB@main.queen-margaret-college.ac.uk> Subject: linguistics in the media and endangered languages You might be interested to know that about 10 minutes, a third, of BBC Radio 4's Science Now was devoted to endangered languages, featuring interviews with (sorry, I have no names) a prof from an Australian uni, and an editor of the world linguistic atlas. (Tuesday July 12th 1994) I thought it was significant that the topic of language loss and endangerment was addressed in the science slot. The discussion centred on the metaphor of mass extinction, and the loss to science of the raw materials of study. Some thought was given to the practical: a museum approach to moribund languages and I guess 'social' help for endangered languages by governments and intergovernmental agencies to encourage child learners. There were some numbers mentioned about loss and some speculation about the maximum number of languages spoken ever (15,000). The loss of 1000 languages in the next century out of 6,500 was mentioned, I think, and I think this was said to be similar to the last century. Shrinking jungle pockets were conjoured up, but explicitly mentioned were the fate of minority european languages and the perceived economic pressures of being monolingual English speaking in Australia, say. There was one main thing I wanted to bring up, apart from just reporting this pleasing 'popularisation of linguistics' ('linguistics' despite the fact that there was no discussion about what linguistic diversity *is*, or what any of these languages was *like*). The metaphor of mass extinction really works. Scientists, and the lay public, understand what is meant by a loss of 10% or 20% of all species in a 100 year time frame, and they are horrified by the prospect. This is something we can really use to get people interested in the actual structures of the languages that in the abstract they are getting concerned about. It was expressed that the loss of linguistic diversity is like a reduction in the gene pool, and consequently weakens all our (linguistic) lives and (linguistic) potentials as human beings. First, note how different this is from the idea often expressed in the media of 'if only we all spoke the same language...'. Second, it struck me as an metaphor some linguists would be very uncomfortable with. At first hearing, I thought the comparison basically said 'language-determines-thought' in that a lesser diversity of language determines less diverse thought 'available' to us (ie a species). Of course, I gave an involuntary alveolar click or two at the way the programme was heading. (ie I disapproved) Then I caught myself and took the metaphor in a more professional way: without diversity we (ie linguists) cannot get to the cognitive core of language, because we'd mistake typological accident with cognitive cause. But no, I don't think the comment was offered in this spirit. My initial appreciation was closer to the mark, though I think I was pigeon-holing the argument in a familiar way. This led me to think more about my knee-jerk reaction, a common one instilled into linguistics students against Sapir-Whorf straw men, a disdain for all comments that might be taken to imply that language determines thought. People (students) always like the notion, and are quite happy with a weakish version of it. Linguists* often seem to be fighting against it. I think instead us linguists should be using the accessible gene-pool diversity metaphor to our advantage. At the very least typlogically diverse languages broaden our understanding of what a human language can be, and indicate what aspects of 'thought' can be grammaticalised. This the lay public can understand, and are predisposed to respond to it favourably... I feel that the public can be convinced that a mass extinction of languages is a bad thing and requires action (money), even if they don't know FA about linguistics. And perhaps they'll even get a little interested. And perhaps, even if language doesn't strictly determine thought, knowledge of language can! The fewer languages there are to know, the worse off we are. * in my experience of 'formal' linguistics in early undergrad classes where the student learns the position against a misrepresented Sapir-Whorf. These are the classes that tens of thousands of university students go to, remember. _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 11: 94-120 -- July 1994 End
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