by H.D. Onesimus
Published 2004. Hardcover, 354 pages. Price: $149.95
Since the so-called 'discovery' of endangered languages, much breathless attention in linguistics has been devoted to the topic of methods for linguistic fieldwork. So much breathless attention, in fact, that our field is in danger of losing its foundational and most critical resource: the linguistic deskworker.
The present volume seeks to avert this catastrophic result.
Data is meant to be analyzed--mined, as it were, for its deep and hidden treasures. Much of today's data-gathering is thumbnail deep, at best, and the resulting publications bear a striking resemblance to third-grade essays on "how I spent my summer vacation." Linguistic Deskwork calls for a moratorium on fieldwork, at least until the unruly reams which have piled up in print and (the horror!) electronic media have been given adequate treatment. Theory-making must have a chance to reclaim ground, lest our field sink itself in a super-abundance of the very substance that it cannot (yet) claim to master.
Any honest assessment (with or without statistical analysis) must conclude that our graduate schools have trained an entire generation of non-analysts, data-gathering automatons, like so many monkeys chattering away at so many keyboards, forever churning out an impossible and incessant soup of data-bits and data-bytes, un-unified in theory or method. This must cease!
It is the aim of this monograph to point out the primacy of the posterior, reassert a reliance on the recliner, come back to the critical chemistry of coffee, and remind linguists everywhere of their supreme dependence on the seated disciplines. Thus, the author hopes to encourage our once-proud field to catch its collective breath, reject the current willy-nilly collection of data, and bring us back to our historic roots.
Linguistics, at the root of it, is a discipline of the desk.