On 31 August 2013 01:20, Jonathan Beagley <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> I certainly did not misunderstand my professor. He made his point of view
> quite clear, and other professors, particularly the semantics professor,
> mentioned his point of view as being "absurd." Luckily, said syntax
> professor retired this year. I should make clear that he didn't say that
> all Spoken French was wrong, but he would not hesitate to "throw out"
> certain examples if he deemed them to be agrammatical.

> Muller has written a book on French syntax: the examples you will see there
> are not based on any corpus but are merely created by Muller himself as
> examples of "grammatical French."
In any other field of science, such behaviour would be called "making up
data", or as we like to call it succinctly "fraud". Someone who would do
that would not only be fired before they reached retirement age, they would
also actively be prosecuted and could risk fines or even prison, depending
on the level of fraud one is talking about. The simple fact that someone
like that could even *teach* tells us clearly how far linguistics is from
being a true science, unfortunately :(.

> As Christophe has mentioned, this kind of viewpoint is quite prevalent in
> France, even in linguistics departments, although certain profs were
> certainly not in agreement and expounded the use of corpus-based studies.
That it was not *all* professors is mind-boggling on its own!

On 31 August 2013 02:15, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Because the view you attribute to your professor is so foolish, I still
> suspect a misunderstanding, though not out of any obtuseness on your part;
> you say he made his point of view quite clear, but did you have the
> opportunity to enter into dialogue with him to ascertain whether it really
> was as foolish as it seemed? The foolishness of the view you report lies
> not at all in eschewing corpus data or inventing or throwing out data, but
> rather in conflating the category of incontrovertibly "wrong" data, such as
> is produced by foreign speakers (e.g. me when attempting to speak French),
> with the category of data consistent with certain dialects of French but
> not with the dialect under study (e.g. standard written French).

Jonathan mentioned his subject of study was *Spoken French*, not standard
written French. In that case, anything spoken by a native speaker is
acceptable data, by definition, and regardless of dialect.

> I wonder if your professor would accept that such a conflation is invalid,
> but, perhaps because his focus was on standard written French, was
> lackadaisical about discriminating among data that was not standard written
> French. Many's the syntax professor who is la
> ckadais
> ical in that way, saying "In [Language X] you can't say [Y]" when in fact
> they mean only that you can't say [Y] in the dialect of [X] that's under
> study.
There is enough difference between the two statements that I wouldn't
expect a *linguist* to make such a conflation. And Jonathan has probably
had more than just 1 lesson with the man. I think we can trust him when he
says he is not misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this doesn't sound *at all*
far-fetched to me. I've experienced the French education system first-hand
and I know the kind of damage it can do to one's sanity, especially to
those who stayed in the system and started teaching.
I mean, have you heard about the New Math blunder (read In France, New Math were adopted at
a level not seen even in American schools. The French school system
completely changed the maths curriculum, teaching set theory to 6-year-old
kids *at the exclusion of anything else*, including plain arithmetic. It
took nearly a decade for the system to backtrack on this folly, leading to
years and years of children leaving primary school barely able to do simple
In view of such widespread institutionalised foolishness, having such a
prescriptivist syntax professor doesn't seem as far-fetched as it first
looked like, does it?
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.