Today marks FoL's sixth anniversary. I started FoL because I just could not stand reading the junk being written about Generative Grammar (GG) in the popular press. The specific occasion was some horrid coverage of Everett's work (By Bartlett in the Chronicle) on Piraha and its supposed significance for theories of FL/UG. The discussion was based on the most trivial misunderstanding of the GG enterprise, and I thought that I could help sort matters out and have some fun in the process. I did have fun. I have sorted things out. I have not stopped the garbage.
FoL has continued to try to deal with the junk by both pointing it out and then explaining how it was badly mistaken. This has, sadly, kept me quite busy. There is lots of misunderstanding out there and it never seems to lessen, no matter how many stakes get driven into the hearts of the extremely poor arguments.
In addition to regularly cleaning out the Augean stables, I have also written on other issues that amuse me: Rationalism vs Empiricism, Fodor and representationalism, big data, deep learning, mentalism, PoS argumentation, languistics vs linguistics, universals, Evo Lang, minimalism and its many many virtues, minimalism and its obscurities, minimalism and how to do it right, minimalism and how/why people misinterpret it, computationalism and its implications for cog-neuro, the greatness of Randy's work, interesting findings in neuro that support GG, how to bring near and ling closer together (Yay to Embick and Poeppel), and more. It's been a busy 6 years.
In fact, here is how busy. I calculate that I've written about 1 long post per week for the last 6 years. A long post is 4 pages or more. I have also put up shorter ones so that overall I have posted upwards of 600 pieces. And I have enjoyed every minute of this.
However, doing this (finding the articles, reading them, writing the posts, responding to comments, cleaning the site) has taken up a lot of my time, and as I want to write one last book before I call it quits (I am getting very old!), I have decided that I have to cut back. My current plan is to write maybe one post a month, if that. This will allow me to write my magnum opus (this is a joke!) which will be an even more full throated defense of the unbelievable success of the Minimalist Program. It really has been marvelous and I intend to show exactly how marvelous in about 150 (not more or nobody will take a look) fun filled pages. If all goes well, I might even post versions in FoL for comment.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that I will be posting much less often and to thank you for reading, commenting and arguing with me for the last 6 years. I have learned a lot and enjoyed every minute. But time for a break.
One last point: if anyone wishes to post to FoL I am open to looking at things to put up. We still have others that will be contributing content and I am happy to curate more if it comes my way. So feel free to jump in. And again, thx.
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After fixing a dumb typo: Thanks for writing all those posts. It's very valuable to have a strong pro-GG voice online to read and point others to. I'm glad to here you're not cutting back to no posts at all.ReplyDelete
You've done such a great job fighting against the forces of darkness (= bullshit, junk), and defending light, integrity, and truth. I look forward to the opus, magnum or or not.ReplyDelete
Indeed; thanks for all the fun, glad it's not stopping.ReplyDelete
I have been greatly enjoying this blog these past few years and I hope we others manage to help you keep it great into the future. Thanks! I have always wondered how you found the time.ReplyDelete
I have a modest suggestion. Could you, in an editorial capacity, try to stagger one-part posts and cluster multi-part posts? This is mainly for the sake of the discussion threads. The idea is to give a standalone post at least a few days without any competing new post to generate discussion, and to allow multipart posts to appear in an uninterrupted series for the same reason.
Good idea re posts and staggering them. So ues, I will try.Delete
I can't offer a staggered collection but In case anyone is interested in a PDF of *all* posts that have ever appeared on FoL with all comments in *chronological* order, just drop me a line. (FYI: 188pp./2012, 851/13, 936/14, 823/15, 597/16, 428/17, 464+/18 incl. Omer's two cross-posts plus comments.)Delete
I don't comment here much, but I do read frequently. So I wanted to say thanks for all your work the blog, and that you are probably influencing more people than you realize, assuming there are others like me who read but don't comment much. It's been very interesting hearing about your views on various 'big picture' topics in linguistics and its neighborhood.ReplyDelete
I am another one of mostly silent ones. Yet most posts read and many saved as recommendation for psychology undergraduates to read. Thank you, Norbert, it has been a great way of keeping in touch with syntax-as-part- of-cognitive-science!ReplyDelete
It was a joy to come across your blog during my undergraduate years, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount by (silently) engaging with the critiques, lessons and discussions. Thanks for all the fish, of the past as well as those to come!ReplyDelete
A big thank you! Regularly reading this blog has helped me understand some aspects of the generative project (although much of it has been quite far above my ability--even those more technical discussions have been thoroughly intriguing). Looking forward to picking up the book.ReplyDelete
I always felt that this was your magnum opus - certainly its impact has been massive on me and many other people. It's telling how excited I was that Kleanthes has created a collection of the entire blog in PDF form. Hopefully we will see FoL in edited volume form at some point in the future. Thanks Norbert.ReplyDelete
Another regular reader, but non poster. Big thanks for all your work Norbert!ReplyDelete
This has been one of my favourite and most useful blogs as an undergraduate. Your coherent defence of Gallistel as well as your great summaries continue to be invaluable. You simply must post a link of recommended blogs/websites/researchers that we should follow as well!ReplyDelete
Seconded! The posts on GKC, and Norbert's linking of the ribocomputing developments with it, has been an invaluable eye-opener.Delete
Regular reader, but non-poster here again. Thanks Norbert, for the exciting and insightful re-analyses of much of the (mostly) uninformed garbage that's posted about GG (and rationalist methods in general) in all kinds of places. Having been in a department (for a while) where people ask you "are pronouns made of protein" if you talk about the biology language, and claim that the best way to "do UG is to document as many languages as possible", I can personally attest to the sanity-preserving nature of what you have done here.ReplyDelete
As a graduate student your cohort, and the general intellectual atmosphere, is rather important an aspect of developing critical thinking abilities. For those of us who were trapped in utterly hostile environments, sometimes violently hostile ones, FoL is a sanity-preserving experience. My personal favorite, and a piece I re-read every week (and cite whenever I can find an excuse to do so), is Hornstein's Lament. It confirmed a lot of "hunches" I have had regarding describing vs. explaining, and at a time when I was beginning to doubt whether I really had learned anything at all.
Indeed, reading FoL is an experience that I can best describe in the words of the linguist Sam Epstein. I am told, by a friend, that Sam Epstein once said, "I used to think I am crazy. I used to think it's just me. But now I know, it's you AND me."
Thanks so much, Norbert! And happy sixth birthday to FoL!