Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Pissed yet again

Joanne Jacobs has a post on a young Protest Warrior. Reading the comments I got kinda pissed at Atlas who said, "On to Noam Chomsky. You can say a lot about him, and I for one think he should get the next Medal of Freedom, but don't say he is not articulate. His range of knowledge and vocabulary are far beyond anyone posting here."

It's pretty obvious why I'm pissed, considering that I'm one of the people who post there and between reading anglo-saxon versions of Beowulf, and Michael Crichton's Travels, I've worked on SDI programs and Yamaha's, the YF-22 and lawn mowers. Now I'm betting that Chomsky's vocabulary is far greater than mine, though the breadth of one's vocabulary is no indication of their communicative abilities as is amply demonstrated when comparing Chomsky's writings to those of Mark Twain, Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy, all of whom have proven to be far more interesting and effective communicators than Chomsky.

Having an effective vocabulary is very important, but that is not the same thing as having a large range in your vocabulary. You can spout off about triskaidekaphobia and prestidigitation in it's historical context but it's not nearly as effective as talking about the fear of the number thirteen and slight of hand (yeah I know, these are pretty well known examples today but I'm not going to discuss things I need a dictionary to explain).

As to his assertion that Chomsky's range of knowledge is broader than anyone posting on Joanne Jacob's site I call bullshit. Can Chomsky tell me whether cast iron can be welded? Can he tell me what kind of solder to use on his plumbing or what the rating is on the breakers in his circuit breaker box? I doubt he could diagram the wiring in his house, or show anyone how a new motor is installed in a car. He's pretty ignorant about a wide variety of things and considering his reputation and what little I've seen of his writings his knowledge base is extremely limited. Especially when compared to many blue-collar sweathogs. Sure not all sweathogs speak attic Greek (though I know a union electrician who does) or study latin (though I know several who do) or study Old English (again, I know several who do) and that's in Chomsky's purvue. Leave that specialty and the sweathogs leave him in the dust. Certainly they aren't all reading about linguistics and politics but then they know a lot about a lot of things, whether it be stalking wapiti, re-building Yamaha outboards, pouring concrete, or using a laser to align the shaft on a process water re-circulation pump (just did that today).


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