Ode to Reduplication—Dee-Deedles D’D’Dee-Dee SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 1 Contents Theolinguistic Developments in Speech Act Theory—Johannes S. Rearle and Johan A. Lustin

Don’t Take The P-s; We’re Positiv(ist)(ish) About Pedagogy

The Collective of South Minnesotan Language Pedagogialists

The soon-to-be released proceedings of a recent international symposium on adult second language learning is set to redefine the field for a generation. The gathering of the influential group of positivist second language pedagogy theorists, Positiv(ist) about Pedagogy, Positiv(ist) about Positivism (PaPPaP), in Agnosaville, Tennessee, sported the ostensibly innocuous title Positiv(ist) P-s in the Pod of Pedagogy: Principles, Parameters and Pou-s Sto (PPsInPP:3Ps). With the hip tagline “We’re gonna chart the state of art,” the symposium hoped to offer an “where-we’re-at-now” account of the groundbreakingly impactful and discipline-shapingly agenda-setting positivist work in adult second language learning over the last six decades. Expectations were, as ever, high, and an almost audible hubbub of anticipation hummed around the University of Agnosaville Eastern Campus with delegates eager to consume the latest quantitative analyses of the causal interactions between the various parameters of adult second language learning.

To the astonishment of all delegates, however, a slightly tipsy chat in the local budget hotel bar on the final evening of the symposium led to the discovery of a hitherto unnoticed variable (which could fortunately be immediately and easily assimilated into the P-denotation): ‘People’. This ground-breaking realization that language learning involves human beings has set the language learning cats among the P-igeons in ways that even the leading P-rofessors of adult second language learning could scarcely have P-redicted.

“To paraphrase Popper,” said Professor Parl Kopper, organizer of the symposium, “revolutions in science rarely arrived pre-ordained, planned and packaged (sorry, I just can’t get enough of alliterative p-triads!), often simply emerging unlooked-for into the field. We had simply no idea that ‘People’ were such an important part of adult second-language learning. For years, we’d assumed that it was a limited set of well-defined rational principles (methods, materials, learning outcomes, assessment criteria, task type and length and teacher training provision, etc.) and that research in the field was simply a matter of refining our understanding of the interface interactions between these modules of pedagogy.

“Imagine our surprise when it turned out that learners don’t necessarily always learn or do what the curriculum enacts, that teachers don’t always do what they say they do and that both teachers and learners are on occasion more interested in what they’re having for tea than on respectively enacting or receiving the latest whizzy learning approach that we boffins have dreamed up. It’s been axiomatic since Eedy Ut’s seminal 1962 paper, ‘I Follow the Curriculum and They Do What I Tell Them,’ that teaching equals learning. A half century of research on that basis has of course produced profound results. For example, we know precisely in what ways all methodologies are in effect equally OK. The research agenda now for the field of adult second language learning has been completely rewritten.”

But Kopper is far from disheartened. Given the transformational discovery of the ‘People’ variable, Kopper is already planning a new symposium, tentatively marketed as Positive about Pedagogy, Positive about Positivism; Positive about ‘People’ (3PaP) to investigate the phenomenon. He clarified: “The first thing we need to do is provide a complete typology of the notion of ‘People’. Initial work suggests that there are at least two kinds of people, ‘teachers’ and ‘learners’, but it may turn out that there are subtypes of both. We’ll also need to determine the componential make-up of the ‘People’ variable and begin mapping these components to ‘People-external’ elements of the pedagogy. A careful reading of the Western philosophical tradition suggests that there was some early work on ‘People’ in antiquity and that there may be reason to believe that they are in possession of attributes which the Ancients referred to as ‘will’, ‘decision-making’, ‘reflexivity’ and even ‘individuality’. We’re currently at a loss as to how to integrate these constructs into our theories but in true positivist fashion, we’ll start by measuring concrete variables such as the length of teacher’s nose and see how they relates to activity set-up and providing feedback on complex grammatical construction in a writing task.”

Of course, whenever something genuinely new and exciting such as this emerges in science, there are always those who want to run before they can walk. “Some of those around the rickety table in the budget hotel that evening let the discovery go to their heads,” Kopper commented. “There were one or two who interpreted the identification of this ‘People’ variable too enthusiastically, shall we say. One individual suggested that perhaps it doesn’t actually matter what or how you teach ‘People’, stating words to the effect of ‘they’ll learn what they learn when they learn it in an entirely unpredictable learning pathway predicated on the holism of the complexity and situationality of their subjectively experienced lives.’ Prima facie, this is obviously not true as it would mean that not only does teaching boil down to approachability and manner, neither of which begin with ‘P’, but more importantly that positivist language learning researchers have been wasting their time for decades. The individual concerned has, of course, been invited not to renew their membership of 3PaP.

Ode to ReduplicationDee-Deedles D’D’Dee-Dee
Theolinguistic Developments in Speech Act TheoryJohannes S. Rearle and Johan A. Lustin
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 1 Contents