Tuesday, December 1, 2015

More (and more polite) critical comments on Evans book

Asya Pereltsvaig dedicates (as of today) three posts examining Vyvyan Evan's claims in his recent book. I have already made my comments on them (many times e.g. here). For those still interested in the topic, Asaya's posts are thorough and helpful. Plus, she is not nearly as polemical as I was, so if that offended you, her posts will be more congenial to your sensibilities (and reach effectively the same conclusions that mind did).  For the interested here are three links (here, here, here)


  1. You should also check out this review: The author actually agrees with most of Evans' ideas, but, in his words "Evans would have been better off throwing away the anti-Chomsky rants and simply write his view of how language works. A book on its own terms. Instead he comes across as your drunk uncle at Christmas who can't stop complaining about how the ref in a high school football game 20 years ago screwed him over with a bad call. This might actually be true, but get over it."

  2. Thank you for reposting the links! The concluding part 4 is coming shortly.

  3. "Ironically, opponents of UG theory (including Evans) seemingly like to emphasize cross-linguistic diversity, mentioning lesser-known languages and their unusual features at every chance they get. Yet, in reality, they almost always ignore the nitty-gritty details of such seemingly “exotic” patterns as the distribution of anaphors in Warlpiri or incorporation in Mohawk, described above. They have little use for these facts [...]"

    Well said, and in the converse lies for me the very appeal of the UG approach.

  4. And here's part 4: Why Are There Different Languages?—Response to Vyvyan Evans (Part 4, Conclusion)