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On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM, Nikolay Ivankov <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM, Roman Rausch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > >Prof. Fomenko from Moscow State University is one of the saddest
> examples
> > >of this kind. An absolutely brilliant mathematician, both as a
> researcher
> > >and as a teacher. I admire his books and his lectures. And yet the one
> of
> > >the most published author of historical and linguistic profanities, with
> > >passages like: "Ancient Russians (sic! - N.I.) grounded a city on Tiber
> > and
> > >called it with the best word they've had: 'Mir' (peace). However, the
> > >ignorant Latin speakers have read this word in the wrong direction, and
> so
> > >the name Rim (Russian way of saying 'Rome' - N.I) appeared." The
> "theory"
> > >is based on a "correct" interpretation of astronomical data, and claims,
> > in
> > >particular, that Peloponnesian War was actually The Fourth Crusade.
> >
> > Mhm, read some of his host of books and it's sad indeed... Fomenko took
> > Voltaire's joke that 'vowels count for nothing and consonants for very
> > little' at face value (I mean, it's *literally* what he says and how he
> > works!), but it's really a common occurrence around the world, one way or
> > the other. I think it has its roots in the school system: How come
> schools
> > all over the world shy away from teaching basic linguistics? A course
> about
> > the language families of the world akin to geography, with excursuses
> into
> > the history of the field (Indo-European etc.), and a discussion of the
> > employed methods would be enough to lift a lot of ignorance.
> >
>
> The lack of any basics of linguistics is indeed a real trouble imo. It
> recalls me of my school years: I actually thought that all these linguistic
> terms that our teacher used to pour on us out of nowhere on our Russian
> classes looked as if they were invented for the purpose of torturing
> students and self-satisfaction of linguists. It's not before I started
> learning Japanese when the words like "infinitive", "interrogative pronoun"
> and "adverb" have became my friends rather than enemies.
>
>
On a somewhat related topic, I didn't understand how English worked at all
(though it's my native language) until I took a Spanish class in high
school. Suddenly all these terms that might have gotten referenced in
passing in my English classes were not only being used regularly, but they
had actual *meanings!* "Infinitive" and "preterite" and all the rest turned
out to have actual meanings that can be understood, not just made-up words
used by English teachers to confuse things!

That's where my interest in language (which has led into conlanging, to
point this slightly back toward that realm) arose. I started to realize
that all those terms I was learning to categorize parts of Spanish worked
for English as well. Somehow it just never sank in before that point how
organized English is, as with every other language. I'm not an English
teacher so I know nothing of the theories of teaching English grammar,
spelling, etc. to native English speakers, but I feel that if some of this
had been incorporated into English classes throughout grade school,
everyone would have come out of it with a much better understanding of how
language works. Incidentally, it's also one of the reasons I encourage
people to learn other languages--not only are you gaining a valuable skill,
but it also gives you a chance to examine a language objectively and
compare it with your own.

To more directly tie this in to the topic at hand: I believe the reason so
few people seem to "get" how language works and evolves is simply that
they're never taught about it. If you don't happen to pick up an interest
in it, you'd never be exposed to such topics--at least not in the American
public school system (or at least not the one I attended).