Ideas I had for papers that later other, better scholars arrived at separately and deservedly got all the glory:
- Filipino English is a dialect of English, the same way Scottish, Canadian, or Australian are dialectal varieties in English. It’s an absolutely un-controversial proposal to linguists, but to most of the English speaking world refers to dialectal varieties as “broken,” “bad,” or “slang” English if it’s a dialect spoken by brown people (because they are total racists). I remember thinking of this topic in my junior year of college (1993) but that ship sailed a few years later. I’m too lazy to look for the article and site it, but look, here’s a pretty book from 2009.
- Focal stress in English is syntactically controlled. I presented a paper about it at the Girona International Summer School of Linguistics. Luigi Rizzi shot my paper down by saying “it’s interesting, but I doubt it’s true.” Before then, Chomsky in the 50s said that stress belonged to pragmatics, which we know now was just plain LAZY. Anyway, it’s accepted as truth now that English focal stress is syntax… look, here’s the wiki page. I can’t bear to look at it.
A paper I thought about that someone else will write about someday:
- Guatemalan “bien.” Guatemalan’s use “bien” as an affirmative to contradict a negative question, the same way French people use the word “si.” So if someone asks “don’t you want to eat?” you can say “bien” (yes, I do want to eat). Someone will try to come up with a lame sub-strata argument involving the Maya languages, but I will definitely vote “spontaneous generation.”
A post that I’ll write someday that nobody will like:
- Horribly counter-productive habits that keep language learners from success. I don’t think people lose their language acquisition instinct with age; I think they actively sabotage it with some very specific success-blocking habits. Ultimately the reasons for this sabotage are emotional. There are definitely language learning skills you can learn, but I also believe that there are habits to un-learn.
A brilliant paper someone has prolly already written:
- One Operation Rules Them All Syntactic relationships like subordinate clauses, verb phrases, noun phrases, possession, gender, number… it’s all a single operation. Evidence from Tagalog.
An editorial I’ll never write:
- It’s all the same. Linguists who think there is some kind of uniform “General Western American Pronunciation” in the western side of the North American Continent are lazy and not very perceptive.
I don’t say that, do I? It occurs to me now that I could make an entire career out of writing popular articles and tv documentaries showing how native speakers listen phonologically, and don’t perceive acoustic reality. I’m thinking, of course about the lady who crusaded against intrusive /r/ who burst into tears when hearing audio playback of herself using the intrusive /r/. The entire first season would be “wow, I never realized I said that.”
It’s because there was a king who… I could also do a whole series on how people cold make shit up and are SO smugly satisfied with false etymologies and folk grammar explanation. I can’t tell you how many latinos have tried to tell me that subjunctives follow every “que,” or how many allegedly educated English speakers swear that all adverbs end in -ly.
Did I mention that I’m still single? Ah yah…