forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Joe Martin
Date:  Wed Feb 9, 2000  9:20 pm
Subject:  Re: ...LUC...

On Wed, 9 Feb 2000, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> > Still, your basic point is the Whorfian view held by Anthrolpological
> > linguists, contra the Chmoskyian view held by Generativists. All this is
> > interesting for lotsa people, but on the SignWriting list, let's not go
> > there. (^_^) (private e-mails welcome)
> >
> Still, having said this ... Please give the list at least a brief
explanation of
> what you mean by Whorfian versus Chmoskyian. I haven't had the opportunity
to take
> lingustic classes in the past but I think I may know what you mean. Which do
> pick? (you can reply to that last one privately if you prefer)
Well, ok. You sounded so knowledgable that I just assumed you knew all
about this stuff :-)

Benjamin Lee Whorf, a long time ago, wrote some stuff saying this:
Everybody's language divides things up differently. Like some languages
only have one word for both blue and green, instead of two words like
english does. That means that they actually think differently; because
the language makes them think in those categories. That turned out not to
be true, at least not in the way he stated it, but still.....
Anthropology, in general, tends to still have that viewpoint.

Chomsky, a long time ago, wrote stuff saying that all humans have
something in their brains that let them do languages. It is genetic, so
it is all the same for everybody, so it doesn't matter what language you
grow up with. You might not have a word in your language for muave or
puce, but you still see two different colors.

So those are kind of the two sides of the argument, and the extremists on
both sides get all worked up and throw mud at each other from time to
That's about it, unless you wanna get real real technical.

As far as SignWriting goes, if anybody has a word for it, we'll just write
it down; so who cares?

Hmmmmmmm. It used to be that anthropology
people only paid attention to speech, and didn't bother to write down the
context of the conversation... accompanying gestures...any of that stuff.
They just wrote down the sounds, using an alphabet. Today, this is
considered to be not good enough, so the problem is to find a way to
transcribe all that along with the actual speech. People are experimenting
with all sorts of ways, including Dance Notation....haven't heard of
anyone applying the Sutton Movement Writing System to this problem.

  Replies Author Date
2801 Writing Hearing Person's Gestures Valerie Sutton Fri  2/11/2000
2803 Re: Writing Hearing Person's Gestures Joe Martin Sat  2/12/2000

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