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Price of Polyglottery - New Prof

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Josquin
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Germany
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 Message 33 of 90
25 September 2013 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
I don't get it why we are discussing the way Professor Arguelles is "selling" his plan. He is giving an academic lecture. I know this may not sound very popular in today's entertainment culture, but not everything has to be fun. If you can't sit through a 45 minute lecture on a serious topic without jokes and puns, then what are you doing at university? Apart from the fact that German university lectures last 90 minutes and there are seldom jokes in them.

So, why don't we focus our attention on what he says? Whether polyglottery is a science or a humanity doesn't really matter. Obviously, Professor Arguelles is approaching the topic from a more general point of view wanting to say that polyglottery is or should be an academic discipline.

For my part, I wholeheartedly agree with what he's saying and I completely reject what idiots like Christophe Clugston are retorting ("Where are his credentials? What studies does he cite? Who's gonna accredit the institute?"). The Professor obviously wants to go back to a more holistic concept of academia than we are used to today.

In one of his posts he described himself as a comparative philologist, a discipline that flourished in the 19th century and was subsumed under linguistics in the 20th century. Unfortunately, modern linguistics is a long shot from what comparative philology used to be. However, I only want to remark that comparative philology still exists in some German and European universities and that we also have something called comparative literature studies.

So, the critical question is: What would the academical benefits of the Polyglot Institute be? Students would learn a bunch of languages and presumably the literature attached to those languages. But what would the professors do? What would their field of research be? How to learn languages? Well, that's applied linguistics. How languages are related to each other? Comparative philology. Would they compare literature throughout cultures? That's the field of comparative literature studies on the one hand and of the specific philologies on the other hand. So, cui bono?

I think this institute wouldn't really do any research, but rather be something like a big polyglot language school modeled after Greek academies or Renaissance universities. While I still do find that idea attractive, I'm not so sure about the real possibilities of it coming true. Who will grant the money for such an institute that seems to be more of a romantic notion than a real desideratum? I ask these as open questions. I would love to see such an institute come true, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Edited by Josquin on 25 September 2013 at 6:47pm

16 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
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 Message 34 of 90
25 September 2013 at 5:04pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
I don't get it why we are discussing the way Professor Arguelles is "selling" his
plan. He is holding an academic lecture. I know this may not sound very popular in
today's entertainment culture, but not everything has to be fun. If you can't sit through
a 45 minute lecture on a serious topic without jokes and puns, then what are you doing at
university? Apart from the fact that German lectures last 90 minutes and there are seldom
jokes in them.


Because he actually wants to set it up.

And for the record, I would go to the school.
5 persons have voted this message useful



Josquin
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Germany
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 Message 35 of 90
25 September 2013 at 5:08pm | IP Logged 
Yes, but he wasn't talking to business fat cats who had to be persuaded to give money, but to an academic public that had to be informed about the concept of polyglottery itself.

For the record, I would go there, too. Especially if Arguelles himself taught there.
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Juаn
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Colombia
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 Message 36 of 90
25 September 2013 at 7:00pm | IP Logged 
Josquin wrote:
For the record, I would go there, too. Especially if Arguelles himself taught there.


I wouldn't. That the greatest works of scholarship and erudition along with the golden age of language discovery and study were the product of individuals of an aristocratic society whose only reward was personal satisfaction and perhaps recognition by a kindred elite is key to understanding how they came about. The institutions of education of today's world, along with the nature and goals of those who attend them, are dramatically different; they deal in matters that are practical and measurable, not in intrinsic value and work for its own sake without material reward, and are fundamentally inimical to genius. They fulfill the requirements of a democratic and egalitarian society, a reduction to the lowest common denominator.

Polyliteracy has little or no need for this kind of "iron-cage rationalization", as Max Weber put it. It is a discipline that is nurtured by hours upon hours of concentrated and solitary study and reflection. Transferring it to a formalized setting will only incur friction and transaction costs, and invite mediocrity.

The Professor is a tremendous inspiration for many, but other than access to materials and abundant leisure time, I don't find other ingredients to be lacking for this wonderful pursuit.
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Retinend
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 Message 37 of 90
26 September 2013 at 6:54pm | IP Logged 
I'm not so skeptical.

If I interpret your first paragraph right, you're saying that our ruling classes don't
respect learning for its own sake (compared with aristocratic rule), and so the massive
initial capital and the wealthy students won't be around to make a new university like
this a reality. I'm not too sure. The richest people in society typically boast about
their global lifestyles. They would want their children to have varied and interesting
lives and meet influential and wealthy people from around the world. Since the world's
richest flocked to Michel Thomas when they heard that he had "the secret" to language
learning (actually the secret was just bloody good teaching), I don't see why they
wouldn't flock to Arguelles's créme de la créme academy when they learn what can be
done with the right tuition. Arguelles's language learning methods are far from
stressful or grammar-heavy. I'm sure that after a couple of weeks of shadowing,
students would learn to appreciate its meditative quality.

On the other hand, I am a bit skeptical.

It's true that our elites aren't particularly interested in things "for their own
sake," unlike their aristocratic forebearers. (Not sure why "democracy" is to blame for
this, though). ...Even though the results of learning languages is very desirable and,
with the right PR, would no doubt draw in plenty of wealthy applicants... the actual
process is an acquired taste. It takes a certain pleasure in discipline, as you
intimate. The wealthy can buy most signs of cosmopolitanism, and since there's no peer
pressure to be good at languages, why put yourself through the wringer of attending
this academy? Also there's the whole "great books" aspect of all this... it's simply a
big ask on top of an already big ask. As an academy focussed on modern languages I can
imagine it with a full enrollment.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Retinend
Triglot
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SpainRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 38 of 90
26 September 2013 at 7:36pm | IP Logged 
Josquin wrote:
In one of his posts he described himself as a comparative philologist, a discipline that
flourished in the 19th century and was subsumed under linguistics in the 20th century. Unfortunately, modern
linguistics is a long shot from what comparative philology used to be. However, I only want to remark that
comparative philology still exists in some German and European universities and that we also have something called
comparative literature studies.


Oh I missed this. I think it's very glib to say "modern linguistics" (what exactly?) is "a long shot" from 19th
Century philology. Historical linguistics' golden days are over because so much of its work has already been
finished! The work of philology as a subject was presumed to be over by aging philologists in the middle of the
20th century. All the language families were presumed to be accounted for and earlier family members were just lost
in time. It was the cognitive revolution that shook linguistics out of its slumber and began to consider language
with a grounding in biology and psychology. Since we're animals with minds, I see no problem with this turn of
events.

If you watch that video of Sapolsky I posted you can see how language is regarded by linguists who study language
as a product of the human mind. In contrast the tradition subject matter of philologists is today viewed as - to
quote Arguelles - "variations on a theme," but also as evidence to be used for understanding. It's not presumed to
be the job of linguistic scientists to record variations on a theme, or even to learn how to converse in them.

Nothing wrong with historical linguistics, but unlike archaeology (the discipline it "grew up" with) it hasn't
developed new ways of dealing with the old questions, like "what came before proto-indo-european?". For the
polyglot it was the perfect job, but the work dried up. The philologists of the 19th century were too good and left
little work left to be done in the 21st. In the mean time, other questions have been thought up to ask about
language, such as, I repeat myself: "what is it?" THAT's a whole different ballpark.
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Lykeio
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United Kingdom
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 Message 40 of 90
30 September 2013 at 12:16am | IP Logged 
Right, everyone needs to shut up about comparative linguistics since they've no idea
what is nowadays. Clearly.

It is still flourishing, as much as such things go with the Classics in general. Its a
vital part of training in the Classics in Oxford and Cambridge and still has a strong
tradition elsewhere in the UK (like the London set) and parts of Europe. Its off the
radar because in the US they've moved to a wishy washy Western Civ/minimal language
contact approach to the Classics.

It is STILL a highly productive field providing new ways of looking at old material,
enabling us to access and understand material we didn't before (particularly where
languages like Phrygian and Luwian are concerned - this is very important for history).
We're also in a period where the relationship between many of these languages is being
tested and redefined (speaking within Indo-European and then in terms of contact) and
closer attention is being payed to things like register and markedness. Many scholars,
like the recently passed Watkins, took this further to analyze poetics and that sparked
a mini revolution in how we look at literary figurae.

The field is far from exhausted, in fact it's far from the mindless cataloging of the
19th century (so curious to call our predecessors "so talented") and is a vivacious and
important part of several disciplines as they relate to the ancient world.

Why anyone would wish to try and summarise and the comment on the field, clearly
without knowing very much about it, is truly beyond me. Jesus Christ.


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