Pershing, in the First World War — About being there, Said said: To make matters worse, Arabic, my native language, and English, my school language, were inextricably mixed:
Support Aeon Donate now Few scientific disagreements lead to public controversy. But there are times when the subject or the participants in a debate so capture the public imagination that otherwise dry, technical matters of discord among researchers erupt into the media, eliciting a wide array of opinions from experts and non-experts.
Getting the public interested is good for science if it leads to deeper thinking about things that are of importance to understanding our species. And there is a controversy of just this type bubbling away for many years now in linguistics.
This is the idea that there is something unique in human biology dedicated to language. The principal evidence marshalled on behalf of this idea is that children know more than they could possibly have learned from the evidence available to them. There are plenty of examples and counterexamples of this in the literature.
While that debate rages, however, its focal point has come to be how much, if any, of human grammar is innate. That is where my work comes in.
Although I realised that what I had written might be controversial, I was unprepared for the sheer number of academic papers, books and ad hominem attacks on me that have raged now for more than a decade provoked by that article.
You would have thought I had spit on a crucifix during church. I had, of course, expected someone to point out flaws in my reasoning or to give clear examples of data that I had missed or to conduct field research to test my claims.
This is the norm in academic debates. But in the first round of criticisms, lasting for five years, what came my way instead was mainly name-calling.
My paper on recursion did not appear in a vacuum, of course. FLB includes a sensory-motor system, a conceptual-intentional system, and the computational mechanisms for recursion, providing the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of elements.
We hypothesise that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language. On the other hand, my actual conclusion in that paper was not primarily about recursion, but about the connection between culture and grammar. What I concluded was almost innocuous: If the form or absence of things such as recursion, sound structure, word structure, quantification, numerals, number, and so on is tightly constrained by a specific culture, as I have argued, then the case for an autonomous, biologically determined module of language is seriously weakened.
In fact, linguists of the early 20th century nearly universally believed this and would have yawned at my conclusion.
There is nothing wrong with this and it is standard in academics. There is positive work to be done. In this case, however, it was much harder to ignore my work because of the publicity that ensued. Chomsky made a clear claim — recursion is fundamental to having language.
And my paper did in fact present a counterexample. Recursion cannot be fundamental to language if there are languages without it, even just one language without it. The publicity began from the outset when the University of Chicago Press, the publisher of Current Anthropology, issued a press release about my article, at the request of the editor of the journal.
This is common practice when editors think an article is noteworthy. Usually such press releases are ignored entirely.
But in my case, several newspapers and radio programmes picked up the story and interviewed me about my work. A couple of magazines carried articles in which the results were briefly discussed. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. I could indeed be wrong.
And now Wolfe, known for his take-downs of what he considers to be vacuous pomposity — such as his Radical Chic and From Bauhaus to Our House — has jumped into this controversy with both guns blazing.
And because I emerge as one of two heroes in The Kingdom of Speech the other being the 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel WallaceI have come under even more fire from linguists and non-linguists.
Some, like the attack on me by a pseudonymous writer whose prose is quite good, I might add!Edward said essays on abortion. May 19, , 5 Comments. 5 características de las mujeres exitosas, ¿las tienes? June 3, , 3 Comments.
Ponche de chinola September 2, , 3 Comments. Últimos Articulos. Ideas para decorar un apartamento pequeño August 28, , No Comments. Oct 21, · The Choice Blog’s Valediction The Times has discontinued The Choice blog, which was created in to help students demystify college admissions and financial aid.
Read more. Said's friends and foes acknowledged the transformative influence of Orientalism upon scholarship in the humanities; critics said that the thesis is an intellectually limiting influence upon scholars, whilst supporters said that the thesis is intellectually liberating.
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The average Oxford Said class has a 41%/59% ratio of female/male. Oxford Said: The Oxford Said MBA program is a highly ranked program and is reputed to be one of the best in Europe. But few applicants miss the prestige of the name either! Class Profile: The Oxford Said full-time MBA class has a student body enrolment of nearly students, 92% of whom are international citizens.
The average Oxford Said class has a 41%/59% ratio of female/male.
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