February 21, 2006

Reclassifying Linguistic History

Today the New York Times reports (see here) that for the past seven years our intelligence agencies have been hard at work at the National Archives, secretly expunging from public access thousands of historical documents that have been available for years. If they can do it, why can't we? It seems like a good idea for linguists to clean up all the erroneous ideas we've held over the years--especially the ones that embarrass us. For starters, we could excise the foolish notions of Eighteenth Century linguists who wasted their time trying to figure out which language was spoken in the Garden of Eden. Then we could remove from memory the past theories of tagmemics, all those early transformations, the misguided uses of the word, "Negro," by early sociolinguists, and maybe even the errors in Jim McCawley's "Important Dates to Remember in the Month of May" (see here).

What do you think? Are we up to this?

— Roger Shuy

Posted by Roger Shuy at February 21, 2006 03:18 PM