Date read: 29 January – 01 February 2015
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Paperback, iv, 104 pages
Published 2011 by Bright Pen
Source: Own, bought from Amazon
It has been far too long since I read any integrational linguistics. The preface states “This publication is the third in the collection of Integrationist Notes and Papers that began in 2003, and completes the series.” The 1st clause is true but the 2nd is not. There are currently three more (INP 2012, 2013, 2014) that I acquired recently at the same time as this one.
Others in the series:
I am truly looking forward to reading the remaining volumes (began INP 2012 yesterday; finished it early today). I have read the first two a couple times already, but then I have owned them for several plus years now.
I am not going to do a “proper” review but will provide you the table of contents and a small excerpt from each paper. Perhaps you’ll be enticed to have a further look. [If you are new to integrationism I would suggest you start elsewhere; feel free to ask. Then again, if you already have some linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, etc. these may give you something to “wake you from your dogmatic slumbers” and provide something to react to.]
At paper 34 The Translation Myth, I give a few thoughts on where all this was heading with my never-completed CAS project. I was actually attempting to do something much bigger—it was required due to the nature of integrationism and the sad state of philosophical awareness, theory critique, and knowledge of language and linguistics within librarianship and information science. See what I say at 34; that is the gist / the nub / the rub of why I embraced integrationism. It could begin to explain lots of difficulties which seemed to arise because of other views of language.
I am not suggesting that the kind of work subject analysis takes could ever be easy or even easily theorized. But it should be doable and, to me, language gets in the way. Something is wrong with our thinking and talking about language and the many and highly varied ways that way of thinking creeps in and impacts areas folks are not even aware of. Much of the work of subject analysis and of indexing and abstracting is metalinguistic, amongst other meta-s. Our talk about language best be sorted if we are to talk about the metalinguistic. And it isn’t. It is so far out of sorts that the problems reverberate pretty much everywhere. Thus, theoretic descriptions of translation, indexing and abstracting, subject analysis, and any other primarily metalinguistic activity (what is a description? what is a good description? It isn’t going to get any better.) are bound to obscure, in some manner, the doing of the actual activity.
- 26 Language Myths, East and West
- 27 On ‘Primitive’ Languages in Linguistic Theory
- 28 Linguistic Relativity
- 29 Saussure and Logic
- 30 Sentences and Systems
- 31 Theory of Mind
- 32 Mental Misrepresentations
- 33 The Quest for Qualia
- 34 The Translation Myth
- 35 On Ultimate Questions
“Integrationism is perhaps best known for its most heretical tenet: that linguistics can dispense with the concept of ‘a language’. … It follows directly from the broader semiological principle that no sign is contextless. This applies as much to linguistic signs as to any. … Context is an intrinsic part of communication.” (Preface, 1)
26 Language Myths, East and West
“The two principal components of the Western language myth – the fallacy of telementation and the fixed code fallacy – are dual aspects of the myth of semantic invariance. Telementation guarantees semantic invariance as between speaker and hearer on a given occasion. The fixed code guarantees semantic invariance as between all members of a linguistic community at all times. … I have always regarded these as myths for the simple reason that there is no non-circular evidence in support of either” (4/5)
27 On ‘Primitive’ Languages in Linguistic Theory
“Chomsky’s primitive language is that famous idealized system which enables speakers in ‘a competely homogenous speech-community’ to communicate, without interference due to ‘memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors’ (Chomsky 1965: 3). In short, the ghost operates in what appears to be a communicational vacuum.” (20)
28 Linguistic Relativity
“The notion that an argument is either inherently sound or inherently defective, without reference to grammar or to any external criteria, is amongst the most confused in the history of the subject. Arguments must be judged by their context.” (27)
29 Saussure and Logic
“One of the more conspicuous gaps in Saussure’s linguistic legacy is his failure to provide any clear account of the relations between logic and language.” (35)
30 Sentences and Systems
“The term sentence is a metalinguistic expression. What we think of as exchanging verbally with others in the course of our daily affairs are not “sentences” but questions and answers, remarks and observations about the past, present or future. Whether or not any of these happen to coincide with what a grammarian defines as a “sentence” (under any of the many definitions of sentence that have been proposed) is simply irrelevant.” (53-54)
31 Theory of Mind
“Knowledge, in integrationist epistemology, is always a form of activity.” (63)
32 Mental Misrepresentations
Behaviourism vs. mentalism
“The immense damage which generativism has done to the academic study of linguistics is not merely to resuscitate a language myth that goes back to the days of Plato, but to resuscitate it in a form where it sounds like the product of the latest psychological research.” (75)
33 The Quest for Qualia
“It was only ever a belated attempt to resurrect the ancient concept of intrinsic essences and make it psychologically respectable.” (84).
34 The Translation Myth
“A well-known paper entitled ‘The theory of translation’ begins with the observation:
To translate is one thing; to say how we do it, is another. The practice is familiar enough, and there are familiar theories of it. But when we try to look more closely, theory tends to obscure rather than explain, and the familiar practice – an ancient practice, without which Western civilization is unthinkable – appears to be just baffling, its very possibility a mystery. (Haas 1962: 208)
The interesting notion here is that theory obscures rather than explains the practice of translation. An integrationist would say that the reason why it does is that, throughout the Western tradition, translation theory – like linguistic theory in general – has been predominately segregationist in its assumptions.” (85-86)
This! This is what I had hoped to address in my CAS thesis. That never got written. That description of the act of translation versus the theory sounds exactly like the relationship between the practices of indexing and abstracting, and of subject analysis, and of their respective theories. That is the gist of what I wanted to address.
35 On Ultimate Questions
“The reason for the elusiveness of initial postulates, like ultimate questions, resides in the (epistemological) fact that the concept of ‘a language’ is not a given, waiting to be described, but is constructed – and can be differently constructed – in the course of inquiry.” (97)
If you got this far I hoped you found something thought-provoking. I just love this stuff but wish I had a better foundation of all the theories integrationism critiques. At least I have exposure to much of it and better than that in some cases.