On Sat, 15 Sep 2001 01:46:57 -0400 Roger Mills <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> Jesse Bangs wrote:
> >>Eh, what's wrong with SIL?  I had seriously thought of joining them
> >>I get my degree
> >>
> Some observations from my (as usual) antique point of view:

First off, I hadn't thought *that* seriously about it.  I was simply
wondering, and looking at that as a possible linguistic profession.  I've
also thought of teaching ESL in a foreign country or going the university
professor route . . . it all depends.

> D.  At least in the olden days, SIL was wedded to Kenneth Pike's
> Tagmemic theory, resulting in a lot of their publications being
> incomprehensible to present-day linguists.

What in the world is Tagmemic theory?

> To be fair, I've seen
> fairly recent work that is more up-to-date, but still idiosyncratic.
>  They tend to be good at old-fashioned phonemics with a hint of
> generativism; don't know about OT.

Isn't this good for what they're trying to do, though?  Their job is to
document and translate previously unrecorded (or poorly recorded)
languages, and phonemics is a good way to give a base description which
future theorists can tear apart at will.  It seems to me that giving a
broad, comprehensive description of a language will be a lot easier with
the well-established (if slightly outdated) theories of phonemics than
with the uncertain, changeable theories of OT.

> E.  You had better believe in Lexicostatistics.  They certainly do.

That's rather silly.

And Brad wrote:
> If on the other hand, the destruction of native people's cultures and
> belief systems (i.e. missionary work) is your thing, they'll probably
> seem like a great bunch of guys.

I have to take this on.  The idea that missionary work equals destruction
of native cultures is very narrowminded.  If you believe that an idea (in
this case Christianity) is true and genuinely beneficial for those that
practice it, it is only natural that you will try to spread that idea.
The Western nations of the world attempt to spread democracy and their
definitions of human rights without much concern for how these ideas
match native cultures, using exactly this rationale.  So though you may
challenge the truth or benefit of an idea, be it Christianity or
Western-styled government, attempting to spread what you see as the truth
is not inherently despicable.

Besides, the people at Wycliffe/SIL are only really concerned about
religion.  The real work of cultural change--the loss of native styles of
dress, music, and modes of living--is done by the corporations and

Jesse S. Bangs     Pelíran
"There is enough light for those that desire only to see, and enough
darkness for those of a contrary disposition."  --Blaise Pascal