An experiment

I’ve been having a bit of difficulty reading some of the things I decide to read. This usually happens with books/articles I’ve deemed “good for me” (like “vegetables”)—things I feel I should read in order to fill in gaps in my background, etc. Simply forcing myself to read is usually ineffective (and not fun), so I’ve decided to try a new approach.

I’ll mention below two articles that I intend to read this month, and see if this makes it easier for me to actually read them. The reason I’m trying to do this openly is not that these particular articles are crucially important for me or that I was unable to read them despite trying hard—both are about 15 pages long, and I could probably read them in a few hours if my life depended on it. My aim is to see if this approach works at all—without trying hard. If it does, maybe I’ll continue with other papers. If this helps me have conversations with/learn from other people about the things I’m trying to read, all the better.

So, here goes:

  1. An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict, by Henri Tajfel and John Turner. An old paper on the social psychology of intergroup conflict—apparently one of the classics. Part of a long-term plan to read/think about social psychology and what we–ordinary people–can/should learn from it. (To be honest, this “plan” has been proceeding glacially—if anything, my tiny bit of knowledge in the field has receded over the years. Hence the new tactic.)
  2.  Ideology, Power, and Linguistic Theory, by Geoffrey Pullum. Pullum is a contributor to the famous linguistics blog Language Log. He says his aim in this paper is to discuss “an intensely complex cluster of interlinked concepts involving distinctions between (i) descriptive and prescriptive grammar, (ii) constitutive and regulative rules, (iii) conservative and liberal attitudes, and (iv) standard and non-standard dialects.” I have some vague and uninformed thoughts about some of these issues, hopefully this paper will help clear up some of my confusion.

Wish me luck.

If you know what the halting problem is, you may have fun reading this other, shorter piece by Pullum: Scooping the loop snooper (in the style of Dr. Seuss, apparently).

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4 Responses to An experiment

  1. bulent says:

    good luck!

  2. David Pierce says:

    Bonne chance! İyi şanslar! Concerning Pullum though, I’ll distract you by inviting you to read something I wrote once in response to an article of his:

    • Arkadaş says:

      Thank you! Sağol! I went and read Pullum’s article in the Chronicle before reading your response. I have to say I’m a little disappointed by his overly polemical style, and agree with much of what you say. I’m slightly less enthusiastic about reading his article now, but will try to do so anyway.

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