Linguistic “Science”: Let’s Get the Scientists out of Science and Let the Politicians Do Science Instead

As you saw in a previous article, the Chinese government, against all reason and for purely dishonest political motives, lies and says there is only one Chinese language, when in fact linguistic science (SIL) says there are 14 Chinese languages, and Sinologists argue that there are 2,000 Chinese languages!

Linguists let this slide because we have decided to cop out on one of the more important questions of our field, the divide between a language and a dialect. We are copping out because the scientific question itself is politicized as many scientific questions are. But linguists are cowards who are afraid of big, bad politics, so we have decided to just let politicians and other professional liars decide some of the more important questions of our field.

Dig this.

If you ask a linguist what the difference between a dialect and a language is, he will either quote some flippant classroom quote from Paul Weyrich 70 years ago, “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy,” or he will avoid the question altogether. The standard linguistic cop-out answer is,

Linguistic science has no way to determine what is a language what is a dialect because the question is political and not scientific.

Brilliant! Any time there’s any questions in your scientific field that you don’t want to answer because you’re cowards/sophists, you simply decide that it wasn’t a scientific question at all, instead it was a political question. Wa-la! Problem solved! Now we can get back to the really important stuff, like figuring how many Proto-Indo-European laryngeals there. You know, stuff that everybody needs to know.

But hey, what the Chinese government lies, I mean says, goes, and all of us linguistic “scientists” (snicker) go along with this anti-scientific BS because we have decided that this particular branch of so-called science is so stupid that we can’t even figure out if a given lect is a language or a dialect because we idiotically state that there are no criteria for making such a discernment.

So of course, we throw the scientific question over to the most honest people in the whole world, the politicians! Yeah! That’ll solve the problem. How bout all of us social “scientists” get together and decide to let the world’s politicians (venerable empiricists of course) decide the most important questions of our field because we are too stupid to figure them out on our own. Let’s get the scientists out of science and let the politicians do it instead. That’s what the official determination of linguistic “science” (snicker) is.

Pitiful. Just pitiful.

You wonder why people chuckle when you say the phrase “social science.”


Filed under Chinese language, Dialectology, Government, Language Families, Linguistics, Politics, Science, Sinitic, Sino-Tibetan, Sociolinguistics

6 responses to “Linguistic “Science”: Let’s Get the Scientists out of Science and Let the Politicians Do Science Instead

  1. James Schipper

    Dear Robert

    Mutual intelligiblity is a good criterion to determine whether a certain lect is a dialect or a separate language. However, it can’t be easy to measure. If you speak 100 words to me and I understand 92 of them, then it doesn’t follow that I understood correctly what you said. Sometimes the exact meaning of the texts hinges on a few words.

    Suppose that I say: “I offer you a gross of those eggs for twenty dollars” and that my interlocutor understands every word except gross. Then he understands 91% of what I said, but he doesn’t know what deal I’m offering to him.

    Regards. James

    • Sure but it’s not that controversial honestly. We usually just go ask native speakers if they can understand the other lect or not. Based on their answer, we can usually come up with a judgement about whether or not the lects are two separate languages, dialects of a single language, or if one is a dialect of the other, which is a language.

      There are some marginal and controversial cases, but we usually just mark those as such. People don’t even need to give us exact figures, although it helps. Of course there is always formal intelligibility testing, which should be quite accurate. The intelligibility of two given lects is not as controversial or unmeasurable as my moronic critics say it is.

      At 92%, we would say that those are not separate languages. Either one is a dialect of the other larger one or they are both dialects of a larger language.

  2. Ed

    One thing I’ve learned about academics is that the closer you get to politics (meaning how your country is governed), the crappier the academic research becomes. When you think about it, this should be really obvious as should be the reasons for it.

    There has been an idolization of science, tech, engineering, and math but really the thing is that these are not really more important or even harder than the “social science” stuff, its that you can do alot of work in these fields without getting close to politics, which means the quality of work is much better. Once you get close to politics, you start getting all sorts of BS.

    I majored in politics at an expensive fancy school, and was thinking the other day of just how bad the courses I took in my major were. The courses I took in other departments weren’t as bad. The MBA program I went through later was almost, but not quite, as bad, there was actually some useful stuff there. Everything I know in the field really comes from just reading on my own. But almost by definition they can’t teach anything really interesting.

  3. All Chinese probably behave similarly to me, having strong attachment to vernacular, meanwhile, not going to war for keeping our lect.

    A feature of Chinese bureaucrats are central government appoints to party boss to province, and these folks are unlikely to have attachment to local lects.

    Even local Chinese are not going to oppose the policy of central government controlling local HR, because this is key of centralization. USA president never has power to choose state governor.

    A lot of Central government top boss are do not speak Mandarin, for example Jiang Zemin speak Wu lect. But these folks will have nation wide vision, promoting Mandarin against their own lect.

    Everyone knows Chinese speak different lect, and pain when our lect fade away. No one is going independence for that.

  4. This is why Uighur people and Tibet want their own country while California doesn’t really care how Washington D.C. feels about anything.

    Manchurian people on the other hand sort of “Muscled In” from Siberia and semi-conquered your country.

    De-Centralization does have drawbacks. Arkansas is poor while New York is rich. Some regions are vastly more backwards than others.

    The upside is they have enough freedom to stay “United”.

    Now I am not defending the United States. It’s actually inferior to Canada, New Zealand or Australian white settler colonies in many ways.

    But this is mostly because a great deal of stone-age people were imported as slaves or Spanish soldiers raped Red Women in the Southwest 5 times a day back in the 1700’s to create a vast Mixed underclass.

    • LOL, Texan want independence.

      There is basically no more Mamchurian left but in name. Even during world war 2 when Japan invaded, most Manchus are patriotic to China, even though Han Chinese overthrown them.

      Even more interesting is Chinese Muslim declare Jihad against japanese when Japan ask Muslims to be independence. Kashmir will oblige if given such as chance.

      The unity of Chinese people is legendary, and in 30 years, Tibetan will fight for China. Within 50 years Uighur will hate Saudi.

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