Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mr. Wayne O'Neil

Linguistic Theory in Second Languge Acquisition, Kluwer Academic Publishers
(P118.2. L56 1988 at the Rockefellar Library)

Triggering Science-Forming Capacity through Linguistic Inquiry / Maya Honda, Wayne O'Neil
( P26.B768 V54 1993)

Oral-formulaic structure in old English elegiac poetry [microform] / by Wayne Albert O'Neil

Rule generalization and optionality in language change / Keyser & O'Neil
(P142 .K49x 1985 )

"After examining many different phenomena, they 'find that the same direction of change is taken by the language: namely surface allomorphy which exists at a prior stage is eliminated at the subsequent historical stage' Rules generalize and optional rules become obligatory, and they go on to explain this through Universal Grammar. LA device reduces the level of optionality, either by changintof status or by rule loss.
OPtional rule which became obligatory is Old Kentish vowel syncope, accounts for forms like deemest, fremest, helpest. 
Lamarkism has exercised a powerful hold over biologists, who are oten trapepd into explaining evolutionary developments by taking acquired features to be inherited. Similarly, historical linguistics often succumb to the temptation to see a general directionality to change, and to explain this either by invoing the laws of history or by attributing historical effects to genetic predispositions. The particular case that K and O offer is expecially strange. They believe that the elimination of optionality constitutes a contribution to a phonologies simplification. and they build a statement within UG predisposing us against optional rules. but for optoinal rules to be lost, they must first be introduced, if we are predispos not to attain opion, one on. hwo they would be triggered in the first place."

Questions: What about historical language change in the Kentish Sign Language system?  Are there observable trends in body motions that can be described evolutionarily with acquired features to be inherited.

Chomsky, Noam: Noam Chomsky Writes to Mrs. Davis About Grammar and Education
Noam, defending intellectual curiosity via. conceptual tools. 
Scientific questions exist, and this is not trivial.  Conceptual tools might help sutdents learn how (and why) to think about hard and intriguing questions and to develop the natural curiosity that is so often dulled by what we (perhaps misleadingly) call "education." One Memorizing meaningless formulas and the grammar of Jespersen:

The study of grammar would have little detectable effect on writing ability; but I think it should be taught for its own intrinsic interest and importance. (Conceptual tools for writers, how can an 'educated' person lack the base-level knowledge of a sentence?)

Moving and profound. I submitted a copy to our tribal chair.

Hale, Kenneth: Appendix A, Excerpt from Navajo Linguistics
Honda & O'Neil: Triggering Science-Forming Capacity
Honda, Maya: Linguistic inquiry in the science classroom, Chapter 2
Honda, O'Neil & Pippin: Linguistics in the English classroom: The view from Room 202
Honda, O'Neil & Pippin: When Jell-O meets generative grammar: Linguistics in the fifth-grade English classroom

 Main Question: The straightforward question is whether the study of grammar (19th century mental discipline) represents a truly objective approach; rather, can it assist us enough to realize certain goals.

Language study is not important for what finally allows one to do with language; it is important for the questions it asks and the freedom it opens up to one in answering them.

"Yet few ask whether grammar should continue to be central and, if so (perhaps even "maybe"), then why.  Important to answer these questions thoughtfully, rationally and carefully. We must know what we are if we are ever to become what we would want to be. If langauge were to be studied in schools the way, for example, that the physical universe is studied, that is, in an objective, scientific way, with no attention given to mindless myth, with due consideration of the facts of language, no support whatsoever for the language myths would ever change. It is important that these myths be destroyed, for clearly they are part of racist and elitist beliefs that a proper education should work toward erasing rather than sustaining. (Propagation of elitism argument)..."by carefully constrainting the data made available, the sutdent is led toward the foregone conclusion. The claim is that this is inductive teaching and that learning is "doing" science...Learning must go on in a context that is rich and full, one to which the child has some immediate access." In grammar there are no unchallenged or unchallengeable explanations: the teacher does not and cannot hold the secret in his back pocket....(Debunking Teacher as God argument; building new criteria for determining the goal of language instruction)
On a single point, at least, all English grammarians are united; they hold that, by the study of grammar, the pupil should acquire the art of using the English language with propriety. A study of the science that does not issue in this, all agree, fails of its proper end."  To speak and write better in grammar in that corner is simply to try nervously to cover up one's social and/or regional origins, to sound and write middle-class, or rather the way the middle class imagines itself to speak and write. 

No comments:

Language Bibliography