I look at a video of some pet ferret doing ferret things, with uniquely lovable ferret-y interactions with its people and I think “they could be incorporated.” The weltanshauung has enough room for a third beast and its peculiar shenanigans.
I’d like to occasionally call upon my skills as a person who’s interacted with a ferret or two over the years, maybe at a neighbor’s house. But I’ve never interacted with a ferret, so I’d have to fake it. I’d love to be given the opportunity to fake it!
Camus believes that all Western countries are faced with varying degrees of “ethnic and civilizational substitution.” He points to the increasing prevalence of Spanish, and other foreign languages, in the United States as evidence of the same phenomenon. Although his arguments are scarcely available in translation, they have been picked up by right-wing and white-nationalist circles throughout the English-speaking world. In July, Lauren Southern, the Canadian alt-right Internet personality, posted, on YouTube, a video titled “The Great Replacement”; it has received more than a quarter of a million views. On great-replacement.com, a Web site maintained anonymously, the introductory text declares, “The same term can be applied to many other European peoples both in Europe and abroad . . . where the same policy of mass immigration of non-European people poses a demographic threat. Of all the different races of people on this planet, only the European races are facing the possibility of extinction in a relatively near future.” The site announces its mission as “spreading awareness” of Camus’s term, which, the site’s author concludes, is more palatable than a similar concept, “white genocide.” (A search for that phrase on YouTube yields more than fifty thousand videos.)
“I don’t have any genetic conception of races,” Camus told me. “I don’t use the word ‘superior.’ ” He insisted that he would feel equally sad if Japanese culture or “African culture” were to disappear because of immigration.
“Evidence shows that the most insular scientific communities have led the march away from elaborated sentences in favor of complex, compressed nouns: Science articles in specialist publications such as the Journal of Cell Biology contain fewer relative clauses and more noun compounds than articles in publications like Science, which target a more diverse community of scientists. Both of these samples in turn have less syntactic elaboration and more compression than academic writing in the humanities, which presupposes even less specialized knowledge among its readers. And lagging behind all of these in the trend toward noun-heavy compression is the language of novels and plays. And, as Biber and Gray have shown, university students learn the art of compression gradually, with those in the sciences coming to rely less on multiple clauses and more on complex nouns than their peers in the arts and humanities.
“These findings highlight the extent to which languages are shaped by the structure of their communities—so much so that even a cosmopolitan globe-straddling language like English contains within it an esoteric register whose linguistic opacity has the effect of repelling outsiders and reinforcing the insularity of its community.”
Julie Sedivy has taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and the University of Calgary, and is the author of Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. She is currently writing a book about losing and reclaiming a native tongue.
Posted inscience|Comments Off on The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence
If I pay you an extra fifty dollars, I don’t want you to pinch me less hard, I want you to stop fucking pinching me. That’s why “more legroom” coach is such a hard sell. Yes, it’s better than regular coach, but it’s not good.
It’s as if I’m being asked by the cook to pay him an extra dollar so he’ll over-salt my potatoes slightly less. Oh, it’ll still taste like salty shit, but slightly less salty shit.