In response to “The Recovery of Case” (Vol. 2, No. 3).
To the editors:
In the “Recovery of Case,” David Berlinski and Juan Uriagereka have drawn attention to some of the themes and events that have defined the trajectory of linguistic theory since the seventies, Case being one. Thus, the article joins the growing literature that attempts to popularize the key concepts and achievements of Chomsky’s generative linguistics. I have to admit that I am not sure who the intended readership is, since, on the one hand, linguists will already be well aware of these themes, and non-linguists may be left puzzled. But to emphasize the major step from description to theory is always welcome, and the case of Case presented here certainly is.
Juan Uriagereka replies:
I admit shamelessly to some pragmatism, because I often think that we, linguists, tend to be our worst enemies. We can be the most pedantic emulators of Don Quixote, battling too many windmills at the same time.
To a large extent that is the content of Pello Salaburu’s reaction: indeed, it is hard to find an audience. That was my very first question to David about the piece. And Salaburu may well be right. For a portion of the audience, we have probably given too much detail; for another, we obviously have cut too many corners. I honestly do not know what to do about that, other than accepting that this, well, comes with the territory of this sort of essay.
David Berlinski replies:
The audience? I would like to think that our essay miraculously managed to address both the professional linguist and the general reader. Addressing an audience is one thing; finding it, another. It is hard to guess at these things while writing an essay, and after having written it, pointless to bother.
Pello Salaburu is Director of the Basque Language Institute and professor of the Basque Language at The University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea.
Juan Uriagereka is a linguist at the University of Maryland.
David Berlinski is an American writer.