Daily Archives: February 8, 2009

The Motto of the Holocaust Deniers

Contradictory agendas are pretty common with humans, conflicted critters that we are.

Back in my doper days I used to run across dopers who were adamant about how much they hated dope, but yet there was a punch line at the end. Their song went: “I hate dope! Dope sucks! Only losers do dope! You do dope? You’re a loser! You’re a scum!…Speaking of which … Dope … Hey! … Got any?

The Holocaust Denier sings a similar darkly humorous tune: “The Holocaust never happened, but let’s do it again, and this time let’s finish the job!”

Yeah right. You guys expect us to fall for that? How dumb do you think we are? You don’t even believe in Holocaust Denial yourselves. That’s just for the consumption of others, huh? You’re lying and you know it. SMH.

116 Comments

Filed under Anti-Semitism, Conspiracies, Europe, Regional, The Jewish Question, World War 2

Mutual Intelligibility in the Romance Languages

Whether or not I am a reliable source for the question of mutual intelligibility has been questioned in a debate on Wikipedia. It’s been suggested that I am an amateur linguist – that is, I am not a real linguist. This is not true. I am in fact a real linguist. My credentials are that have an MA in Linguistics and have worked in the past as a professional linguist for an Indian tribe in a paid position.

Here is an excellent link on the question of mutual intelligibility between Spanish and Portuguese, the subject of a prior post.  If you Google the question, you get all sorts of hits for the question, so it is obviously something that people are very interested in.

But here’s a guy who actually tested it out experimentally. In the test, Spanish had 58% intelligibility for Portuguese speakers, and Portuguese had 50% intelligibility for Spanish speakers. This stands to reason, given popular stories about Spanish speakers being able to ask directions of Portuguese speakers, but not being able to understand the response. Portuguese is harder for Spanish speakers than vice versa. Combined gives us a figure of 54% intelligibility between Spanish and Portuguese.

The test attempted to factor out exposure to the other language and decided that Spanish and Portuguese have about 45% inherent intelligibility (comprehension of those speakers not previously exposed to the other language). That sounds about right. Keep in mind that Spanish and Portuguese have 89% lexical similarity.

Based on that, you would think that they can understand each other, or that they are dialects of a single language. But lexical similarity is almost always going to be higher than intelligibility, so that 89% figure is quite misleading. For instance, Frisian and English have 61% lexical similarity, but in the Frisian video in the prior post, I could not make out a single word in five minutes. It appears that 60% lexical similarity and $1.89 will get you a Slurpee at a 7-11, but little in the way of understanding another language.

We also learn, here, that no one can understand French except the French. Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Romanians, no one can understand the darned French. This makes sense to me. I can’t understand a word of the local French-speaking tourists, and I had a semester of French. They always talk like they are holding their noses.

This is interesting in light of the fact that Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian have 89%, 75%, 75% and 75% lexical similarity with French. But all those similar words aren’t worth a hill of beans when it comes to understanding a Frenchman.

Spanish speakers have a better understanding of Italian. Italian and Spanish have 85% lexical similarity, and that is worse than the 89% for Spanish and Portuguese.

That’s for spoken communication. For written communication, French and Italian can understand each other a lot more. The same is true with Spanish and Portuguese. They can understand the other language when written much better than when spoken.

What is interesting is that everyone accepts that Spanish, Portuguese and Italian are separate languages, despite 54% intelligibility for Spanish and Portuguese.

However, in the cases of Austrian/Bavarian, Swabian (spoken around Stuttgart) and Mainfränkisch (Moselle Franconian, close to Luxembourgeois), these three languages are only 40% intelligible with Standard German. Their status as separate languages has infuriated lots of Germans who just consider them to be merely dialects of German, or “cheap slangs” of some type or other. Yet they have a better case for being separate languages than Spanish and Portuguese do.

Romanian also seems to have some understanding of both Spanish and Italian. Romanian speakers say that they moved to Italy, could immediately pick up a fair amount of the conversation, and picked up Italian very fast. Romanians have ~65% intelligibility of Italian when spoken and possibly 85-90% when written. They can understand written Catalan better than Spanish and spoken South American Spanish better than Castillian Spanish.

Vice versa, Italians living in Italy run into Romanians regularly and say that they can understand Romanian quite well. Spanish speakers say that they can understand a fair amount of Romanian, and Romanians can understand even more of their Spanish. Spanish and Italian have 71% and 77% lexical similarity with Romanian.

Catalan may be about 60-70% intelligible to a Spanish speaker, and that is with 85% lexical similarity. Oddly enough, Spanish speakers seem to understand Galician better than Portuguese speakers do. Spanish speakers can probably understand 85% of Galician. That doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how it is. Standard Galician is said to be pretty Hispanicized these days.

Looking for a nice dialect continuum across Europe where you can keep on understanding people everywhere you go? Try this, starting at Portugal:

Portuguese, Mirandese, Fala, Galician, Asturian, Aragonese, Spanish, Catalan, Gascon, Occitan, Auvergnat, Provençal, Franco-Provençal, French, Gallo, Picard, Jersey, Guernsey, Walloon, Romansch, Friulian, Ladin, Lombard, Ligurian, Piedmontese, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Venetian, Italian, Neapolitan, Corsican, Sicilian, Sardinian Gallurese, Sardinian Logudorese, Sardinian Sassarese, Sardinian Campidanese, Latin, Moldovan, Romanian, Megleno-Romanian, Istro-Romanian, Macedo-Romanian.

References

Jensen, John B. 1989. On the Mutual Intelligibility of Spanish and Portuguese. Hispania 72: 848-852.

67 Comments

Filed under Europe, Linguistics, Regional

Hard Tests Are So Damned Racist

Black firefighters are suing the city of Houston because they do so poorly on a test required to be elevated to the level of captain. It’s a multiple choice test, and the Black spokesman said that Blacks don’t so as well on high-stakes tests. So the Blacks are suing that the tests are discriminatory. This shows the utter insanity of Cultural Marxism. Any test that Blacks or whoever else do worse on must be racist or biased. Yeah, it’s biased because it’s hard. Whites do better on hard tests than Blacks do.

That’s racist right there. We need to get rid of all of these hard tests and requirements, all through our lives and society. We need to make all tests and requirements for every damned thing under the sun easy, because making stuff difficult is racist and KKK-like.

Later, they interview an “educational anthropologist” who acknowledges that Blacks do worse on high-stakes tests. No one quite knows why, says the article. Huh? What else don’t we know? That the Earth is round? One theory is that Blacks get inferior educations than Whites.

That’s possibly true (that they get a worse education) but the main reason for that is because when you have large numbers of Blacks in any school, typically just about everyone gets a lousy education, because the Blacks destroy the school. How do I know this? Direct observation and unfortunately experience. I taught in the LA schools for many years.

Another theory tossed is that Blacks get nervous before tough tests and screw up. This is the legendary “stereotype threat” that has been tossed out as a reason for all sorts of low Black test scores. We Leftists would love to believe in cool theories like this, or even, Hell, the eduction one, but they are both wrong.

Stereotype threat has actually been proven to be wrong in quite a few studies if you ask me, though it’s hard to test for. For one thing, Blacks don’t experience much anxiety period. I bet the Whites and Asians are probably more nervous before hard tests than the Blacks. I bet the Whites and Asians who get the highest scores (the nerds) are the most nervous of all. So much for that theory. Considering that stereotype threat has been disproven for about a decade now, it’s amazing that they are throwing it out there as a hot theory.

I believed in all this leftwing BS for most of my life. At one point, I started studying the issue. I wanted to believe all the leftwing BS, so I spent years testing it out. I think I studied this for around a decade or so, testing out all my crazy theories, and then I finally threw up my hands. None of my theories was working.

The reason that Blacks score worse on high stakes tests (or probably just about any test not involving a football, basketball or microphone) is that they are simply, as a group, less intelligent than Whites. Always less smart? Not necessarily. But they are at this point in time. We know this because IQ tests conclusively prove that Blacks are on average less intelligent than Whites right now.

I’m acquainted with one of the top IQ researchers in the world (in his case, a Leftist) and I assure you that the tests are not biased in any way, shape or form. Might Blacks at some point be just as smart as Whites, or surpass them? It’s possible; all we can say is what the scores are right now, but I would not bet on it. I do believe that Blacks have in the past and can in the future close the gap to some extent.

Are they born that way, is it biological or genetic? It’s possible, but I’m not willing to say that. Keep in mind that environment effects IQ also. IQ would not have been rising by 3 points per decade in both Blacks and Whites for the last 80 years if that were not true.

In the article, a Black firefighter compares a being a captain of a firefighting team to playing football. Forget it. I don’t necessarily support high stakes tests just to be a firefighter in the first place, but this is the test for captain. I understand that captain commands a team of men. You need to be smarter than your average firefighter to do that. He needs to make all sorts of snap, on the spot decisions and he holds the lives of his men in his hands. Damn right they need a hard test for that.

One final comment. It’s a multiple guess, excuse me,  multiple choice, test for Chrissake. How hard could it be? It’s not essay, problem solve or fill in the blanks. Come on, man.

This stuff is embarrassing for Black people. With so many fine examples of intelligent and accomplished Blacks in our land, like the President and First Lady, there’s no reason to dumb everything down. When you dumb everything down, everyone gets hurt, because you end up with unqualified clowns littering the responsible positions and holding the certificates of achievement in society. Certificates and positions which become increasingly meaningless.

Black IQ’s have risen 20 points over 80 years in the US. US Blacks today are smarter than the Whites of 1950. Black folks are getting smarter and smarter. There’s no reason to dumb everything down. What’s next on the dumb down agenda? Attorneys and physicians?

If I were going to be rude, I would say that the firefighter tests are biased all right, biased against dumb people, but I won’t say that.

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Filed under Race/Ethnicity

“You Can’t Be An Anthropologist Without a PhD”

When I was working as a linguist – anthropologist for an Indian tribe, my silly boss told me that a professor told her that you can’t be a linguist or an anthropologist without a PhD. At the time, I was working on salary as a linguist – anthropologist. That was my job description, and I received a check for doing that. Working as a cultural anthropologist meant working with Indian informants, surveying literature, etc.

It’s true, I didn’t have a degree in anthropology, but I had done lots of reading in the field and taken a course. I bought a book on how to do field anthropology and all the rest was what you call on the job learning. As far as being a linguist, I was doing that too. I had an MA in Linguistics, but had never taken a course in field methods.

No problem. I just got a hold of a bunch of books, called up a bunch of professors and field linguists, and figured it out on my own. I was annoyed at the guy’s remark (he was some kind of a PhD somewhere), but it was no big deal. The world is full of idiots, and some of them even have PhD’s.

My uncle had a PhD and he was one of the most arrogant people you have ever met. One time, he got into it with the department secretary and the department chair called him and read him the riot act. “Look!” the chair said. “Around here, PhD’s are a dime a dozen, but a really good secretary is damned hard to find! Now knock it off!”

My uncle was furious that he was considered less than a lowly secretary and was constantly repeating this story to everyone who would hear, expecting them to share his outrage. Mostly I think the listeners just agreed with the department chair.

Anyway, it wasn’t until recently that I caught on to what the professor with PhD fetish was all about. There are autodidacts all over the world, and I’ve been quite impressed by some of them. The ones who do best are the ones who follow academic consensus.

Let me elaborate. In any field, consensus is more or less arrived at by the experts in the field, and most of them have degrees or even advanced degrees. An academic consensus about a variety of issues and theories related to the field develops over a period of time. In other areas, disagreement persists. And if the consensus is theoretically weak, eventually it starts getting challenged by a few renegades.

One thing you notice about a lot of autodidacts is that they have a real scattershot education. They more or less gave themselves a degree or advanced degree, and they didn’t necessarily take the required courses. Upshot is that they are great at some stuff and terrible at other stuff.  Worse, they often lack the essential basic background that those with a degree have. The field has been set for a crank.

A scattershot education means the autodidact is often going off half-cocked and saying some really stupid things that no one with a real education would ever say. Really, if you want a seat at the table of debate, you need to prove to us that you deserve one. If you’re an autodidact, no problem, but shows that you’ve got the necessary background, either through formal or informal education, to get a seat at the table. If you can’t show us that, give us a reason why we should listen to you at all.

That may sound cruel, but autodidacts do tons of damage to good theory, mostly by contaminating it in the public square. In the field of history, broad consensus has been reached about the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and many other things.

Yet the world is full of amateur historians who set out to prove that proven history never even happened. Sure, they are shut out of the academy. For damned good reason. So they contaminate the public sphere with very well-crafted nonsense designed to fool the gullible. I

It’s no secret why nearly all Holocaust Deniers couldn’t get a history professorship even with millions of dollars. In academia, we don’t tolerate nuts, loons and cranks. You either back up your stuff with some sort of facts, or we don’t even let you in in the first place. Sure there are Creationists running around. Some even have Biology degrees. Do you think they can get a Biology Professorship somewhere? Not on your life. Their views are going to land them on their ass before they even have a foot in the door.

There is consensus in meteorology about global warming. Outside the academy, the world is full of meteorological autodidacts whose great calculations show us that global warming cannot possibly be occurring.

There is consensus in biology about which animals are species, subspecies and whatnot. There’s even an organization to stick names on critters. Outside the academy, there are all sorts of amateur field biologists, many receiving large paychecks, who know more than the standards bodies.

Consensus in academia is criticized, but it’s not the bugaboo it seems. If it’s theoretically weak, some maverick will show up and start knocking over the furniture. He might make some folks mad, but they will generally keep it civil.

A requirement in academia is to keep your differences with other scholars respectful and civil. If you notice the autodidacts, they don’t seem to be capable of doing that. They’re often screaming and yelling in various public forums,  leaving nasty snail trails all over that are going to follow them wherever they go. Professors are not supposed to do that. If you do, you might get investigated, if not fired.

Bottom line is that when some egghead makes an arrogant comment like the one you see in the headline above, unfortunately, there is some basis for saying that.

14 Comments

Filed under Anthropology, Linguistics