In recent days, old flames from the great generativist-vs-functionalist-war have flared up again with this post and reactions to it (and it's not the first time this author creates this kind of debate). I'll refrain from writing a longer serious post right now, but in the meantime I can recommend this more sensible and interesting post here by another generativist and this more functionalist paper here comparing different schools of thought.
Needless to say, I'm very tired of these kinds of debates (particularly when they derail into ad hominem, inaccessible and very theory-internal arguments). I grew up functionalist/typologist, but I've also had generative teachers and I can see the point of that kind of theory building and testing (and I think non-generativists need to discuss how to produce testable hypothesis more) - while at the same time, I see how it can pollute the primary data I need for my cross-linguistic comparisons. I have young researcher friends who are generativist (some of which might write on this blog in the future). I so wish we could get past all these old battles and have a more constructive discourse. I wanna get to the post-war generation. I'm just tired and not really that interested because half the time I can't see any concrete cases and implications being discussed, but abstractions and defending of old territory and pride.
No long serious post I said. For now, as the young person on the internet that I am; I'll let Hermione do the reacting. Yes, this is a young "hip" blog. Welcome.
When you for the first time read an inflammatory text from combatants of the great war:
When you realise that some people seem to enjoy this war (almost?) more than they enjoy learning about the study object (language):
When you realise what this does for our field's reputation among other researchers and the impression first-year-students get: how it both attracts certain people to the field (people interested in logic, argumentation & rhetorics ) and repels others (people interested in studying language and not learning battle history and complicated models and notation systems) and what all this does to actual research:
When you realise how much of this has to do with social groups, i.e. which bubble they live in. Seriously, you can't just not talk to each other, not write and argue accessibly or not take each other seriously:
When you just try and ignore them all and get down to investigating and learning about your topic instead:
When you kinda get into the whole unprofessional rhetoric because it relates to something concrete that is relevant to you and find some enjoyment in a particular critical turn of phrase:
When you realise that there are useful parts, that they're hard to pick out and that those parts are not at all what is being debated and that they're all arguing over very, very old stomping grounds and reacting to each other in a quite closed loop:
When you realise that you're only human, you cannot learn all of the battle history and have exhaustive knowledge on all that has been said, that you need to actually get on with research and discover new things and that it's ok to have friends in "the other camp" (whichever that is):
When you realise you're not alone, that there are other researchers who also want to talk about concrete and new things:
And don't get me wrong, Evans' book needs to be criticised and there is unprofessional, over-generalising, provocative and/or uninteresting arguments coming from all sides. Though, admittedly the frequency at which Hornstein uses the word "junk" does put him on the very extreme end (why is he so very mad?).
Hugs to all in all camps, let's get on with talking about language shall we?