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New Yorker article
Posted: 14 April 2007 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Maybe those Piraha are not human at all, but aliens from outer space.

Or maybe all the rest of humanity are.

;-)

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Posted: 15 April 2007 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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it’s usually not a good idea to use popularized expressions in the classic sense unless the meaning is crystal clear ("begs the question,” I’m looking at you!).

I debated with myself whether or not to use the expression. I decided that it would probably be okay in this group--people would understand my meaning. I misjudged the extent to which the popularized usage had taken hold.

I’m reasonably sure there are counterexamples for just about everything Uncle Noam has ever claimed; this just happens to be one that’s gotten lots of publicity.  Assuming the Big C is correct until proven otherwise is not (IMHO) a productive approach.

I’m assuming that if the consensus among linguists is that Chomsky’s theories are generally correct (but not necessarily correct in every detail; of course there will be controversies in any overarching theory), then the data exists to support that consensus. It’s not that I assume the Big C is right, but that I’m assuming the community of linguists as a whole is right.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I’m assuming the community of linguists as a whole is right.

A reasonable assumption; I happen to think it’s unfounded, but we’ll have to wait a few decades to see whether it holds up.  (Remember, the community of scientists pretty unanimously derided the theory of continental drift for a long time.  Academics are as subject to groupthink as any other humans.)

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Posted: 15 April 2007 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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languagehat - 14 April 2007 04:51 AM

Maybe the statues of The Great Noam will finally be pulled down and the people will be free at last!

This man has a problem with authority figures.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Wrong thread!

[ Edited: 15 April 2007 01:55 PM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 15 April 2007 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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"The exception tests the rule” is not the original sense of the phrase, and it’s questionable if it was ever widely used with that meaning.  See this Straight Dope column.  Be sure to read all the way to the end for the origin and original meaning.

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