Etymologikon™ is a blog about the science of language. All linguists and students of linguistics are welcome to comment. Philosophers of language who honestly acknowledge their discipline are also welcome, and philosophers of science have a special place of honor. Anathema here is reserved for philosophers of language who pretend to do science. You know who you are. Now go away.
Etymologikon cheerfully promulgates the following linguistic heresies:
- The human language system is realized in biology and is the product of biological evolution.
- An important causal factor in the evolution of language is its functional utility for communication.
- Empirical data gathered from language users under proper methodological and statistical discipline has value for understanding linguistic competence.
- The adequacy of a linguistic theory — whether at the descriptive, explanatory, or predictive levels — can only be assessed by empirical testing and falsification. In this way one can determine, to a known level of reliability, which among a set of possible linguistic processes or structures is the one actually realized in the humans, animals, machines, or little green men under study.
- The philosophical analysis of language, once falsified by real-world data, has little further value for understanding the linguistic competence of persons other than the philosopher in question.
- Cartesian dualism is demonstrably false. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.
Teresa Elms, Etymologikonoclast, is a professional writer by day and an aspiring linguist otherwise. She has published more than 500 magazine articles, research reports, software manuals, and books on computing, data communications, and information economics. Someday she will revolutionize computational linguistics and discourse analysis. In the meantime, she is brave, thrifty, loyal, reverent, intelligent, good-looking, and modest — all of which must be true, because she wrote this herself.
And yes, she has read Isaac Asimov.