Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday misc.: Carlin, Vecoli, 'facts'

You've heard that George Carlin, of 'the seven words' fame, has died. He was a guy with a reasonable cuss-o-meter score. I just read here a quote that I'd forgotten about:
As Carlin told CNN in 2004, "[I]f I hadn't chosen the career of being a performer, I think linguistics would have been a natural area that I'd have loved-to teach it, probably...Language has always fascinated me."
Closer to home geographically, Rudy Vecoli, a great historian of immigration, has passed away (see here). For many years, he directed the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. He wrote his dissertation here at Wisconsin, on Italian-Americans in Chicago, and he later did tons on immigration to Minnesota's distinctive Iron Range. He was one of the people who argued an important position:
Mr. Vecoli argued against the notion that immigrants to the United States left their cultures behind and did their best to blend into mainstream American society. Rather, he wrote, they clung tenaciously to their traditions and developed strategies to retain their heritage and resist pressures to embrace the American social and economic system.
People who work on immigration have described him as a formidable scholar and just as importantly as a person who worked hard for public understanding of history, tying research in history to how we all understand our own communities and families.

Finally, something that's not life-or-death, but merely stupid: Peter Svenonius, a well-known Norwegian syntax specialist, has posted a comment indicating that the collection of 'flawed' Norwegian example sentences is a worse form of hack-job than I would have imagined. The book's author labels as wrong, it sounds like, things that don't fit the prescriptive standard, sentences that are colloquial, and things the author just didn't understand. What a shame.

I hope the week improves from here.

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