27 June 2008

"This Vietnamese soup makes no sense at all!" Tom said phonologically.

by Cecily
Linguistics is so silly. It's always naming its ideas after totally random things that sound like something else completely. Mainly fighting techniques or supervillains. Occasionally baked goods.

Guess what this is talking about:

Enlightened Self Interest: An Alternative to Greed.

You might think that an idea named Enlightened Self Interest would be something to do with economics or politics. Especially since it's An Alternative to Greed. Well pay attention! I already told you I'm talking about LINGUISTICS!

So your next guess might be that it must be related to sociolinguistics or linguistic anthropology or something. All right. Those are pretty smart guesses so I won't hold it against you that you are totally and completely wrong.

All right already, what is the ANSWER?

The answer is: Syntax! If you think like Chomsky, you think words need reasons to move around in their sentences so they'll end up in the right place. Those words are not allowed to just go any old place any old time they feel like it. That would be chaos!

Some people think the reason a word would move around is because of Greed. (In many theories, as it turns out, words behave a lot like people. Greedy, greedy words, only looking out for number one.)

However! Some people think that Greed is an oversimplification of the words' rationalization for why they are moving around. (Some people also may think that I am anthropomorphizing these words in a reckless and unnecessary manner. I'll deal with THOSE people LATER.) These words, sometimes they move over to another spot EVEN WHEN THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO, just to help out some other parts of the sentence! What nice little words.

Except they aren't all that nice after all because as it turns out it's all in their own self interest; the sentence will crash if they don't and then there won't be any sentence for anyone. Enlightened Self Interest. Grudgingly consenting to help others, to keep your own cranky self alive. Just like the humans do!


  1. What! Are you calling me a commie? I'm from America, and I'm going to DEFEND you!