Gaston Dorren is a journalist and linguist. His latest book is Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages (2015). He lives in Amersfoort in the Netherlands.
Language and linguistics
The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?
Author speaking here. Having read the comments and discussed them with colleagues, I think that the article has one possible flaw and one (minor) omission. The omission is that I haven’t mentioned the grammarians and phonologists of the pre-scientific era, first and foremost Pāṇini in India, but also scholars in China, Greece, Rome et cetera. Their work was certainly insightful and sometimes brilliant. I knew about these men, but as a result of how the article came about (as a study in silliness), I failed to mention them. The other thing is that apparently the natural sciences too attract many crackpots, even today. My impression that linguistics and historiography swarm with them more t...