Monday, October 15, 2007

The root of all errors

I appreciate the sentiment of the many that I quoted, and equally those of the few who comment here. I hope that I echo all of their concerns. Because all of us who share an education tend to be the sort of people who do not abuse punctuation or engage in Bush-speak.

But it would be easy for a daily blog to only list little quirks and errors each day. To point out things about language that are liked or disliked. In the same way that it would be easy to write a little ode to a different film or book or game each day. But, forgive the analogy, that is a little like racism.

It is easy to look at different groups of people and to comment on their differences. I am a racist, in that I accept that there are statistical differences in average abilities for these different groups. But differences are easy.

What is more difficult is to look for similarities. To look for common influences across completely diverse languages and cultures. To look for causes and origins. To find the essence of what makes us human. In order to predict different patterns of behaviour or patterns of speech then we need to look for the factors that have made them different in the first place.


Faisal said...
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Faisal said...

Hmmm, at least two points raised by you and left hanging...

1. The essence of what makes us human--whatever it is, I don't believe it is rooted in language or behaviour differences. To be honest, I don't really know what separates us from animals...except that we kill our own and other species for reasons other than survival. That, and the advanced development of tools.

2. Looking for factors that made them different in the first place wouldn't help us predict differences in behaviour and speech. Such factors might contribute to the difference(s) in some cases, but I doubt they can ever be held wholly responsible. Often, though, they are completely unrelated.

Maybe I am not getting your point because I am a fascist pig.

RNB said...

I don't think there is any major divide between man and other animals, but language is the attribute that has enabled technology to develop across generations.

And I still reckon there is more insight in finding a common factor that can explain a difference (for example a defective gene that may be fixed one day) compared to just listing differences.

But maybe that's just what a racist would say :)