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John McWhorter

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:43 pm
by Bobtheduck
Don't know if anyone is interested in linguistics, but my favorite linguist is John McWhorter. He has a series on audible that is basically Linguistics 101, and some of the lessons are free for Audible subscribers. One I highly suggest (of the free-for-Audible-members) is "Dialects and the fallacy of blackboard grammar."

It's a long shot, but if you have a half hour (and a paid Audible account) and like language, it's worth checking out.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:04 am
by shooraijin
What's the premise of the talk? (My bachelor's degree is actually in general linguistics.)

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:43 am
by Bobtheduck
Where a lot of so-called English grammatical rules came from, and dialects and discrimination involved in them (well, briefly... There's more about that in other lectures). It's part of an 18-hour lecture series. It's basically prescriptive vs descriptive grammars.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:54 am
by IPv4
I wouldn't mind knowing linguistics, but I really really really do not want to learn it.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:27 pm
by Bobtheduck
I... What?

There are a lot of interesting things in his lectures, but this one (which is, I believe, free for paid Audible members) is particularly interesting because this topic is often so hot in forums and social media.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:08 am
by shooraijin
IPv4 wrote:I wouldn't mind knowing linguistics, but I really really really do not want to learn it.


How do you mean?

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:26 am
by IPv4
Seems boring to learn, have to learn about the origins of words and similiar things which I do not find interesting.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:36 am
by shooraijin
That's only one part of linguistics (typology and diachronics). My specialty was syntax (grammar), but there's also semantics, phonetics/phonology, morphology, you name it.

One of the most interesting courses I took was a computational linguistics class. My project was to get a state machine far enough along to reliably assign parts of speech to words in an English sentence. I got an A, of course.

Re: John McWhorter

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:42 pm
by Bobtheduck
This particular lecture was about the origin of "blackboard grammar" or prescriptive grammars that most people in the English speaking world would have been raised with. Mostly prohibitions like those against double negatives or starting sentences with short conjunctions (FANBOYS). If you want the SPOILER version, a lot of it came from feeling that Latin and Greek were noble, well-educated languages and English was getting "dirty", so we needed to make English more like Latin and Greek, and we need to stem the change in the language. For an example of the last of those, there was the pronoun agreement table. There was a change taking place at the time to give singular you a singular agreement, but two writers got this practice (which actually makes more sense than singular you a plural agreement) demonized so that now this is viewed as low-class and uneducated.

An example for the former is the so-called rule about splitting infinitives. The reason this was prohibited by these two textbook writers (that influenced English education for centuries and extends into today) is because in Latin, you literally cannot split infinitives because they are single words. So having separate words to accomplish this instead of the lovely Latinesque way of doing it all with inflection is inferior. That being the case, the least we could do is not allow them to be split like barbarians would do. We need to imitate the elegant, intellectual Latin and Greek instead of the (illegitimate child) of a language English had become. The conclusion is that this sentiment toward language is not natural or reasonable.