Posts

Showing posts with the label Noam Chomsky

Who Needs English Grammar? Part II

Image
English Grammar and Social Class The unspoken subtext of English grammar is its connection with social class.  Traditionally, "proper English" meant whatever was used in the golden triangle formed by London, Cambridge and Oxford. As Tiger Webb explains, "in socially-stratified and newly literate Georgian England, any guide to 'proper language' would have sold like hotcakes"--which is exactly what happened with Robert Lowth's Short Introduction to English Grammar.  With the democratization of the language, a number of dialects, sociolects, idiolects and sublects emerged (there are a lot of lects out there--each with its own slight adjustments to the grammar).  David Crystal suggests that every Anglophone needs to know at least two Englishs:  one that is spoken locally and a second that is understood and accepted globally (or, at least, more widely).  (The local, more colourful version of English is the one more likely to be used in poetry and literature,…

The Postmodern Hoax

Image
Beyond the HoaxReading Alan Sokal’s Beyond the Hoax brought back the question that haunted my university teaching career:  How much of postmodernism was intellectual fraud?
"Transgressing Boundaries" and Social TextSokal is the physicist who submitted a deliberately bogus article entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries:Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” to the cultural studies journal Social Text.

Post-structuralism as MummeryAfter it was accepted and published (Spring/Summer 1996), Sokal announced that the article was nonsense, a parody of postmodernist half-baked arguments and verbiage. Sokal and the Belgian physicist/philosopher, Jean Bricmont, subsequently published Impostures Intellectuelles (1997) in which they systematically unmasked the mummery of leading lights of post-structuralist theory such as Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva.

Jacques Lacan as CharlatanThe most compelling essay I have read on Lacan is Dylan Evans’ “From Lacan to Darwin.”  Eva…