Politics Magazine

Why Linguistics Is an Idiotic Field

Posted on the 05 March 2015 by Calvinthedog

From the Internet:

However, I certainly think it’s worth challenging the linguistic orthodoxy that no language is more complex than another.

Yeah. Linguists actually believe this. They actually believe that no language is any more complex than any other language. Dumb or what? They also believe that children learn all languages at the same rate. There is a lot of experimental evidence that this is not true at all. Also some languages are so infernally complex that few even native speakers learn to speak them with 100% competence. Yes, linguists actually hate that idea too. They hate the idea that there is such a thing as “bad grammar” or “grammatical errors.” According to these idiots, there is no such thing as bad grammar and there are no such things as grammatical errors.

As far as the idea that some languages were more psychologically costly than others (for instance, they required more of your brain to use them effectively) no less a figure than Roman Jacobsen himself believed that.

No language is any more inherently difficult to learn than any other language.


Malay is just as hard to learn as Tsez.

Here are some samples of this idiotic attitude from linguists on the web.

I don’t think relative “complexity” among languages exists, or would be measurable or yield any useful conclusions even if you could measure it.

Yeah, Tsez is just as complex as Malay. Idiots.

No language is “harder” than another.

Right, it’s just as easy to learn Tsez as it is to learn Malay.

In my opinion, when people no longer ask questions like yours, which assume or suggest there is (perhaps) some inherent mental difference in people with another maternal language, that will be the day that racism as a concept has disappeared…

…I know the concept is tainted by colonialism and racism and that all languages are equal is the conventional wisdom.

As you can see, the reason they fight all of these ideas is PC. They think that making value judgements comparing one language to another in terms of complexity or difficulty is racism. Linguists are fanatically, preposterously, absurdly PC. They are some of the most PC wackos out there.

Your premise is flawed. All languages are equally complex. Hungarian is no more “complex and difficult” than other languages, even if it seems difficult to you. Polynesian languages are not simpler. A simplification in one aspect of a language will be made up by complexity in another.

How stupid.

The evidence for this is that no matter the language, you won’t find that it consistently takes children a measurably longer or shorter time to learn than other languages.


Then again, there are some linguists going against the grain and fighting this PC BS:

I’ve seen enough anecdotal and some experimental evidence that all children do not learn the full extent of their native language with the same speed and fluency — especially given fluency has not been well defined, a pet peeve of mine — that there may be interesting differences worth exploring.

Right, some languages are intrinsically more difficult to learn than others.

I keep hearing and reading examples of Native American children not reaching “fluency’ until puberty, for example, and so I have to believe they are more complex languages, in some sense…

..We know that Danish children have been studied and have shown that they are rather old by relative standards (I think 7 or 8 years old) before they can be considered to have a Danish accent because of the complex vowel rules…

Exactly. And there are many more examples out there.

Third, it is impossible to leave the frame of one’s native language in terms of judging what is hard and easy.

This is the typical boneheaded answer. Sure, maybe if you speak Botlikh, you can pick up Tsez easier than I can. However, I understand that Tsez is so complex that even native speakers regularly make errors in it.

One way around this absurdity would be to take a native speaker of Language A where Language A is extremely different from both Language B and Language C. For instance, a Vietnamese speaker could try to learn both English and Arabic. Both Arabic and English are surely equally different from Vietnamese, so there should be no home language benefit with either of them. However, from what I have heard, Vietnamese speakers say that learning Arabic was vastly harder than learning English. This suggests to me that Arabic is intrinsically more difficult to learn than English.

From the Net:

This is purely anecdotal, but I find Arabic harder by orders of magnitude. My first language is Vietnamese, which is vastly different from both English and Arabic, so hopefully the comparison is reasonably fair.

With English, I could become decently conversant with less than two years of passive effort (made to take classes in school; didn’t actually enjoy them) and a couple more to nail the SAT Verbal/Writing. I started learning Arabic last year, loved it to bits, spent some time on it every day, stayed in Morocco for 1.5 month this summer, and still my essays are atrocious (i.e. they sound like they are written by a clueless first grader, without the cuteness). Granted that I started learning English at a younger age, but the drive and motivation to learn Arabic are much greater. There are a million reasons why Arabic is so hard.


Here is another one:

My mom knows Arabic, Armenian, Turkish and English, and of all the languages she knows, she begins cringing when she talks about the days she was learning Arabic growing up in the Middle East. She cannot begin to explain how difficult of a language Arabic is to grasp. From the pronunciation(crazy ghkk, blender type noises from your throat to say some words), to the alphabet, to the grammar, to the right to left writing.

She mentions countless times that English is unbelievably easy compared to Arabic…….mind you she grew up learning and speaking Arabic and English was the last language she began learning. She always says learning English was a piece of cake compared to Arabic.

This woman probably grew up in the area where Iran, Turkey and Iraq all come together. The “Turkish” she learned was probably Azeri.

From a Czech speaker:

Yes, English is so much easier than Arabic, I’m learning both, while I learned English as a self learner, I can’t imagine that with Arabic.. It’s a nice language, but.. kind of difficult if you want to speak it well.

Spanish speaker who has tried many languages:

Arabic is an incredibly hard language to learn. I’m a Spanish speaker and I’ve found English to be pretty easy but I can’t even begin to describe how difficult Arabic is. Just trying to understand how it works is pretty mind-boggling.

It’s as difficult as languages get. I’ve tried to learn a few languages and even if I didn’t became fluent in most (mostly to lack of time or drive, not because of difficulty), Arabic was the only one with which most of the time I felt like I couldn’t get my mind around it. At first recognizing the roots is terribly confusing and since vowels are not written, until you have a decent grasp of the language and the vocabulary it’s really hard to know how to read a word


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog