Aside: A little about linguanophiles (1/4)

Monday 5 March 2012, 3.00pm HKT

(Updated 06 March 2012 for typos and formatting failure)

IF YOU CARE TO PAY ANY ATTENTION AT ALL to the people and happenings around you, you’ll notice linguistics, translation studies and pedagogy (education) are rigid and rigidised fields.

Of the lot, linguistics is broadly speaking the most rigid and rigidised.

The most hotly contested (and heated) debates in academia today are in linguistics, which fact should help you infer the type of people who populate that field.

To be perfectly honest, all fields (academic and non-academic) are like that to some degree. But linguistics, translation and pedagogy are probably the easiest to notice for their rigidness if you pay attention.

There are three key reasons for the rigidity and rigidisation:—


1. Paradigm maintenance

Paradigm maintenance (‘rules for innovation are set in stone’) is a very strongly developed trait in those fields. You will have noticed (as my ex-classmates and I did) that in those fields more times than not anything new is smoochingly described as ‘innovative’ but actually regarded with suspicion as unorthodox.

Yet if you’re blackballed to begin with, how are you going to get the white balls unless with some kind of social engineering exploits?

(I’m using ‘social engineering’ in a very loose way.)

If you had to use social engineering, you’re not exactly unblackballable, are you?

In short, the SOP is keeping the old game scores alive rather than trying to score new hits.

This is why there’s so much argumentation and argumentativeness going on in those fields and in others like religion and politics.

This is in direct contrast to other fields (say, chemistry) where your newly minted theory is accepted at face value and be let run (whilst being told as ‘unorthodox,’ etc) until such time your theory is ‘unable to carry on continuation.’

On the face of it, it looks like there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two stances. In fact there is a world of difference:—

  • One treats you as suspect whilst using welcoming words (linguistics, etc)
  • The other treats you without great suspicion but only with uncompromising language whilst they verify your continuability (chemistry, etc).

In other words, it’s the difference between waxing sincerity and being actually sincere.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 06 March 2012.
Images: Innovations in Rigidity via c4c | Gold Rush Paradigm via Lance Scoular.

5 Responses to “Aside: A little about linguanophiles (1/4)”

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  2. Ed Hurst said

    Oy, have I ever been through that linguistic wringer in my religion work! I’ve left more than one organization because it became the whole of the religion itself, it seemed.


    • Of course this kind of thing happens in all fields, but I find it’s very sustained in those three fields – and it get really annoying after a short time. I can’t say I’m knowledgeable or insightful about it, mainly because I don’t want to hang around too long with people like that. I quickly shuffle away and much prefer to pig out on good food and wine.

      (Yeah, Ed, I’m a skinny glutton … err … umm … sorry, Ed, isn’t gluttony a sin or something horrible like that?)


  3. Ed Hurst said

    Gluttony? Only if you are Catholic. Most Protestants can pig out, too.


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