Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Heavy Weights Weigh In .. or do they?

Well, Eric Bakovic over at Language Log brings up language death today, and seems to at least implicitly support Harrison's view that language death is somehow inherently bad, a position I rejected in my earlier post and a position that The Language Guy also challenges (see my previous post for link). However, the Bakovic post is remarkably devoid of any explicit claims about language death; rather it simply links to a variety of resources.

Since Language Log is ostensibly the world's most respectable linguistics blog, boasting such regular contributors as Zwicky, Liberman, Partee, and Nunberg (all far superior linguists to me), its postings on language death (and all linguistic phenomena for that matter) are likely to be taken as conventional wisdom within the field. But here's the thing, linguistics has a bad history with conventional wisdom. My chosen field has a 40 year history of failed theories. And I suspect the very emotionally charged issue of language death is another example of bad conventional wisdom within the linguistics community.

It's not clear to me at this stage what positions the other Language Log contributors take on language death, so I will take some time this weekend to review their archives and see if they have previous posts discussing it.

For now, I repeat my earlier assertion that there is nothing inherently wrong with language death, and I promise to follow-up with more substance this weekend after some thoughtful review of the literature.

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