On 15 November 2015 at 19:05, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Naturalist artlangers are likely to find interesting this paper:
> van Driem, George. 2007. 'A holistic approach to the fine art of grammar
> writing: The Dallas Manifesto'.
> <
> >
> It's half a ranty manifesto that will chime with many conlangers'
> prejudices, and half a study of evidentiality in a Tibeto-Burman language.
I've read the manifesto itself (keeping the other part for later). I don't
think it is "ranty" so much as exasperated for having to point out what
should be obvious: that languages should be described in their own terms
rather than force them into theoretical straitjackets that bring nothing to
the table and only obfuscate or downright misrepresent linguistic
phenomena; that even closely related structures in closely related
languages will never be exact equivalents and that it's the linguist's job
to recognise that and to correctly describe it; and that theoretical
discussions are useless when they are based on misunderstood examples from
underdescribed languages or on one's linguistic prejudice based on one's
native language.

Yes, the tone is angry. But anger alone doesn't disqualify someone when
their arguments are sound, and these arguments are the soundest I've read
in a long time. Anyone who's got at least some knowledge of
non-Indo-European languages or, like us, has actually worked to create
stuff from that difficult to grab matter that is language will see this
person's arguments resonate with them. It's not prejudice when it's
argumented and based on actual facts. And yes, it's unashamedly
anti-Chomsky and anti-Platonic. That's two positive points in my book :P.

And the most interesting part of the manifesto is that it pleads for a
relatively traditional method of describing language: do reuse terminology
for structures that are analogous to structures in other languages, so long
as you treat terminology for what it should be: a set of labels that are
useful but *must* be adapted based on language-specific data, rather than
as a set of metalinguistic platonic concepts that somehow exist on their
own. That's how I've always treated linguistic terminology, and it's served
me very well.

All in all, a very good read. I will read the next part with interest, once
I get to it.
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
President of the Language Creation Society (

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