Junk Ethics 1
Advances in Linguistic Rhetoric
Linguistics can be hard work. The attempt to develop insightful descriptions or theories of NLs can be extraordinarily taxing to the mind/brain. Almost every day another promising linguist keels over from the strain of marshaling facts, drawing distinctions, and postulating entities. Reliable techniques for stress reduction and lifestyle management are thus an urgent necessity for the linguistics community. It is toward the goal of meeting this need that attention is turned in the following remarks.
How can linguists successfully struggle against those who, like hungry vultures, hover ready to criticize, counterexemplify, refute? The answer is rhetoric, the art of convincing one's audience without benefit of logic. (More accurately, regardless of logic. No one has shown that it is actually disadvantageous to have a sound argument on one's side; it is merely unnecessary in linguistics, I will argue. )
Great strides are being made in linguistic rhetoric, whose progress puts the stasis in mere description and theorizing to shame. In the great rhetoric laboratories of the northeastern United States, defensive shields are being perfected that can render any theory virtually impervious to factual corrosion.
Moreover, essentially no risk attaches to the rhetorical techniques reviewed here. Each one simply generalizes techniques already effectively used by leading (often tenured) linguistics practitioners and published in top linguistics journals or in books by reputable international publishers. The only contribution of the guide offered here is to codify and publicize already developed methods so that they can be utilized by the broad mass of the overburdened linguistic workforce and not just by an elite few.
Let us begin with a familiar problem. You have a desired consequence that explains your data just right but face the demanding, perhaps impossible task of show