SpecGram Vol CXLVIII, No 2 Contents Toward a New Classification of the European Languages--Medved Sem

Also Sprach Zarathustra

A Letter from the Managing Editor

I was chatting with my good friend Noam Chomksy the other day (we go way back), and I said to him, "Noam, this new minimalist program of yours. It's pretty good, but there's one small problem with it."

"Yeah?" he muttered, not much interested, never looking up from his copy of the Wall Street Journal. "What might that be?" Noam is always kind of grumpy when his Northrop stock is doing badly.

"It doesn't go far enough," I told him. "That is, it's not really minimalist. True, it does away with a lot of the old theoretical baggage, like the transformational component and all that it implies. But you've still got lots of stuff in there, like PF and LF. You don't really need any of that junk."

"Uh-huh," he said, rising from his chair. "Look, I'd love to stay, but I've got an important meeting with the dean. And by the way, I left my wallet in my office. Could you cover for me today?"

He's always doing that, "forgetting" his wallet and sticking me with the check. Luckily, Noam doesn't usually eat much for lunch, just a grapefruit, a glass of iced tea, and a porterhouse steak, medium rare.

Anyway, encouraged by Noam's reaction to my criticism, I developed my ideas further. I am now ready to propose a truly minimalist program for linguistics, which goes as follows.

There are no linguistic structures. There is no such thing as linguistic data. There are no languages, no speakers, and certainly no hearers. Furthermore, linguists should not do anything. Not professionally, that is. They are welcome to continue eating, breathing, and going to the movies. But they cannot do any research, publish any papers, go to any conferences, or teach any courses. To engage in any of these activities would be proof that a linguist is adhering to an outdated paradigm. Linguists who surreptitiously engage in such primitive behavior should be denied tenure. If they already have tenure, they should be forced to teach Math 101 until they quit in disgust.

Such was my program, but since I formulated it, I learned that it had already been proposed thousands of years ago by one S. Gautama, who called it "Buddhist Linguistics." He theorized that only by doing nothing can linguists attain happiness. That wasn't the idea I had, although I'm not denying that it may be true. However, I no longer like this program now that I know someone else thought of it before me. So I decided to scrap it and go on publishing the fine linguistic research that you will find in this issue of SpecGram.

Toward a New Classification of the European Languages--Medved Sem
SpecGram Vol CXLVIII, No 2 Contents