Friday, June 8, 2007

Our First Open Thread

While we await further postings... I thought it might be a good idea to open up a thread for topics that are unrelated to the current posts, and also to allow readers/commenters to suggest topics for future discussion.

Collaboration is everything. People used to say that about timing... I know, I was one of them, but now... I think it's all about collaboration.

And it's all because of the Internets and the Google.


Introvert Girl said...

"The Internets"?

Which ones? ;)

Karen M said...

Yes, it's a weakness I have. Every so often I feel I must pay some sort of tribute (another auto-antonym?) to GWB.

Introvert Girl said...

Well, we have to acknowledge that everybody's version of his own reality is just as valid as ours. I suppose.

I hereby declare that all grammatical mistakes made by the authors of The Chocolate Interrobang are intentional, as they lead to critique and discussion by participants.

Karen M said...

I like that idea... sort of unintended teachable moments. Of course, that one really was intentional. GWB is such an easy target, though. He has only to open his mouth. However, lots of people have had fun with his "Internets" and "the" Google. The man is grammar & usage deaf.

On a related tanget, I am one of those who thinks it's perfectly fine to break a rule, but that in order to break it you first have to know it. It doesn't count if you do it unknowingly, because there's nothing subversive in that.

[p.s. I reversed the published order of these last two posts, because I didn't realize that you had one going up as I was posting an open thread. It only affects your reference to comment, and not seriously.]

Introvert Girl said...

Sorry about the confusion! I was going to email it first, but saw you posted yours, so thought maybe we were just posting now?

I can't believe how active this is. I really should get some work done.

I think I agree with you on breaking known rules. My attitude tends to make me a prescriptivist, though. I don't like the idea of running around trying to justify usage of "nucular" just because someone can't be bothered to get it right in the first place.

Karen M said...

Oh, it wasn't your fault. It was just timing on my part. And I didn't want to put the open thread on top.

Linguistically speaking, I'm more of a descriptivist, but when you start bringing up words like nuke-yular... I can't stand it. I sometimes think he does it on purpose, like mispronouncing the name of the Democratic Party. It's just willfulness. Perhaps if he said it ironically... but he doesn't.

Sure, go ahead and just post something. I would only email first, if you have a reason, or want some feedback. Besides, you can always unpost it back to "draft" later on, if you want to for some reason. Very elastic, this sort of publishing.

William Timberman said...

IG, I think I disagree that you have to know the rule to break it. Language learned at your mother's knee has no rules extrinsic to its everyday use. Those come with the advent of writing, I suspect, although I'm not scholar enough to prove it.

As Professor Chomsky has pointed out, however, language has all sorts of very complicated intrinsic rules, the moreso for not being spelled out anywhere.

As an aside, I do wonder how a language like Latin, which depends so much on inflection rather than word order, arose in a strictly oral culture, or how Chinese came to extend or modify meaning via tone rather than adding new syllables.

Boy, I can't wait to hear what genuine experts have to say about such things. I hope we might attract a few, if we haven't already.

Introvert Girl said...

I cede the point. It does seem, though, that the more professional you try to be (in writing), the more important it is that you are aware of the rules you're breaking. But it all depends on the type of writing.

With the issues you're bringing up --way over my head but fascinating--we practically need Chomsky to chime in!

Karen M said...

I'm not quite ceding the point, not because I think you have to know a rule in order to break it, but because I'm still not sure it would count.

Somehow, we'll have to turn this into a larger discussion. Maybe with some choice Chomsky quotes to use to jump off of? Or would we actually have to read substantial amounts of him first, WT?

Karen M said...

I almost forgot... a question about Notable Quotes. I just pulled those two from I'Girl's and certified's posts because I liked them.

Feel free to add your own if you can. Or, just let me know who you want to quote and with what, and I'll add it in. They could be from here in a post or in a comment, or from some other piece of poetry or prose or criticism, or anything else that you think would espresso the nature of this blog.

William Timberman said...

Oy, KM.... To go from philology to linguistics is daunting indeed, kinda like turning a naturalist into a molecular biologist. I'm afraid that when it comes to Chomsky, I'm just a tourist, not a resident.

Perhaps we should leave a technical discussion of the innateness of language to those here who actually know the subject more thoroughly. My own interest, strictly an amateur one, springs from the personal observation that no matter how individuals may butcher a language, it tends to come right again in the aggregate.

Look at Pidgin, for example, or the Gullah dialect. The vocabulary of one language grafted onto the grammar of another from a completely different family, and it all seems to work out fine. Even English shares to a certain degree in this hybrid development, as Frankly's comment on the Germanic heritage of our verbal prepositions demonstrates.

Much food for speculation here, but when it comes to explaining the brain wiring which powers -- or doesn't power -- this intrinsic rule-making in the practice of language, maybe we need to borrow someone like ondelette, if he'd be willing.

Karen M said...

A good idea, WT. I believe I mentioned ondelette's name in one of my earlier announcements about this space, hoping he would happen by, so I could invite him more specifically. Can't do that in the other threads.

There is something about growing up in the military that gives you a different perspective on language (as well as a whole bunch of other things). In your case, I think you combined it with your vast reading to give you that unique style. (Are you also a fan of William Stegner?) For in my mind, you really are a stylist. Wouldn't you agree? (I could be wrong, I guess.)

Gotta go, now. I'm being hailed. More later...

Karen M said...

Hmmm... I think I meant Wallace Stegner.