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Re: [WMASTERS] Ostrich Methodology?
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*Date: Tue, 7 Oct 1997 08:44:34 -0400 (EDT)
*From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
*To: "C.R. Selvakumar" <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Subject: [WMASTERS] Ostrich Methodology?
*Reply-To: "Harold F. Schiffman" <email@example.com>,
*>Even modern linguists will agree, I hope, that not all phonems are given
*>separate representation. If modern lignuist differ, let them.
*What is this statement supposed to mean? Modern linguists do *NOT* agree
*that some phonemes don't need to be represented in an efficient writing
*system. I have taught linguistics for 33 years, and I teach phonemic
*representation as being the ideal way to write a language; any contrasts
*that do not need to be represented as *predictible* by the environment.
*The voiced sounds /b, d, g, etc./ are predictible after nasals /n, m,
*etc./ in Tamil so we do not need to write them there. They are *NOT*
*predictible in initial position, so we do need to represent them there.
*Not* in Tamil. May I with all due respect to you and to your
long experience in linguistics ask a simple question ? Tamils
have in their wisdom and more than 2000 years of reflection
had not thought that they should have words starting with J, G
and such voiced stops. There were many ancients we tamils
revere for their wisdom and we value their guidance.
May I ask honorably, what right you have to dictate that we have to
have initial voiced stops and that they are to be represented by
a separate symbol. I wonder why you don't dictate English with
your linguistic principles. Or tell the Germans they ought to
have 'J' since even their language is known to English as
'German'? Or to the Japanese about not calling Selvakumar as
Serabakumar ? In English, why we don't have
different *separate* symbols for various initial 'a'
such as in 'ape', aviation, and apple, after etc.
Or a separate symbol for 'sh' as in shaft ( should this
new symbol be used for 's' in sugar too or that is slightly
a different 'sh' ?). etc. etc. If linguists succeed in doing
these and many many such things, tamils will pay close
attention and they will consider what to do and
how to do.
Tamil does *not* have J, G, and such voiced stops at the
*beginning* of a word. Tamils are aware of many sounds and
sound sequences but they don't include all of them.
To say they that they have is similar to saying, 'Oh
there are many in America who speak English who have 'zha'
in their name and so English should have a representation.
English *has* zha and even the way americans pronounce
'american' has some slight similarities.. Or to say 'Oh
English has a word 'pariah' and we should include a new
symbol for hard 'r'. English *has* what we call in tamil
*And what about the statement
*>If modern lignuist differ, let them.
*Shall we stick our heads in the sand like ostriches?
Well if you think all our ancient forefathers of our language
and culture as osteriches ( as your statment seems to imply,
to me at least), I've to honestly agree to disagree
with your implication.
*Selvaa, you have criticized my contributions to this discussion as lacking
*in methodology, by which I think you mean, "not using the methodology you
*use". What methodology is this ostrich methodology?
Prof. Schiffman, I had oftentimes said I'm a layman and my questions
are from a layman's perspective. If your conclusions are
based on some involved mathematical analysis or some complicated
set of arguements that is highly reliable, but an untrained
layman like me can not understand, please be kind and point out and
I'll spend sometime to learn them. I've not even read a small part
of your suggested webpage documents.
Prof. Schiffman, if you can lighten up a bit, I would share what
I have learned so far from you, that you probably believe in pure
mythology but not in purism of language, that you probably believe
in an 'osterich methodology' and you are at present quite
curious to know what it is. Just joking :-) Please don't take it
seriously. I'll buy you coffee when we meet, I promise.
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