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Becker's Criterion for the Cafe?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject: Becker's Criterion for the Cafe? Reply with quote

Becker's Criterion - a useful, if humorous, editorial guide for those great minds who publish turgid linguistic research, materials, course books etc.

"Any theory ( or partial theory ) of the English Language that is expounded in the English Language must account for ( or at least apply to ) the text of its own exposition."

Can we re-work this to apply to posting on Dave's? I'm not sure how to go about doing this. But here's my offering as it looks thus far.

Sasha's Criterion:

Any post about English teaching should demonstrate previous English learning.

Not a very snappy formulation, I know. So, comrades! What do you say to some collectivist effort in order to try to raise the standards of discourse to glorious levels?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9605
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=94582&start=60

I tried this in the past, and if I recall, was basically boo-ed, hissed, and shoved off the floor. Assuming you are referring to accuracy issues....
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear, that's right. I remember now. Hmmmmmm. Still, we should stand firm! Defend the sacred high ground with our last drops of lifesblood!
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 869
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I try, but I'm typing with one hand and feeding a newborn in the other Laughing I like to keep up with the current ESL conditions while on my many maternity leaves Cool
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"Any theory ( or partial theory ) of the English Language that is expounded in the English Language must account for ( or at least apply to ) the text of its own exposition."


Sorry Sasha, but you lost me here.

Any chance of having this in plain English?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha ha! Boom boom! Excellent! Love it!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12877
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Teacher in Rome,

I know you're kidding, but using the English language to espouse a theory about the English language reminds me of this:

"The human brain is very good at figuring things out, except about itself.

Think about it. A brain capable of sophisticated reasoning has to be very complicated so complicated that it would take an even more sophisticated brain to figure out how it works. But an even more sophisticated brain would be even harder to figure out. As the brain gets smarter and smarter, and thus more and more complex, it becomes ever more difficult to explain how it works. The brain can never catch up."

Regards,
John
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I know you're kidding


Actually, and hilariously for Sasha, I wasn't! I really did not have a clue what he meant - which is probably the joke...

I think this proves that clever people on forums can get hoist by their own pedantics. Or is that hoist by semantics? I'll leave cleverer people than me to work that out!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12877
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Teacher in Rome,

Hey, I resent that - I'm not at all clever; I'm a teacher Very Happy

Regards,
John
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=94582&start=60

I tried this in the past, and if I recall, was basically boo-ed, hissed, and shoved off the floor. Assuming you are referring to accuracy issues....
That post went on for nearly 3 pages with sensible dialogue before one person began to take it in that direction. That thread was pretty good, I thought. Look at the vote it generated, too. More than 2/3 of 33 voters said people should be more careful about their posting here.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Glenski's words ring true. But it is still a pity that the forces of counter-revolution managed to drag down a valuable thread into bickering in the end. With luck, similar problems will be avoided on this thread.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teacher in Rome wrote:
Quote:
I know you're kidding


Actually, and hilariously for Sasha, I wasn't! I really did not have a clue what he meant - which is probably the joke...

I think this proves that clever people on forums can get hoist by their own pedantics. Or is that hoist by semantics? I'll leave cleverer people than me to work that out!


Ah, Teacher in Rome! I'll assume that you are being serious then and interpret the quotation for you. But please bear in mind that Becker is a much cleverer person than I am, and it is he who is being hoist (hoisted?) with his own criterion/petard.

The basic idea is that if a EFL/linguistics guru is writing about English, say communicative competencies, then that text itself should be competent communicatively. One's own rules must be respected. Yet how much of these publications are dull, leaden texts?

Similarly, if you are expounding on a particular grammar structure and say it has specific, clearly-defined rules, then your explanation of it must not use that structure in a way which breaks those very rules! I remember a classic moment in an observed lesson:

"Teacher, can I say 'I have any money?'"

"No, Mehmet, you can use 'any' only for questions and negatives. If there are any situations where this is not true, I'll be a monkey's uncle!"

Poor fellow. If we apply Becker's criterion to his explanation, I think we'll agree that he fails to meet the standard, and his 'rule' is close to worthless.

Click on the link below to read an abstract of Becker's article 'The Phrasal Lexicon', where from comes his criterion. Very well-written it is too : )

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=980212
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, back to Sasha's Criterion. Anyone able to improve on the phrasing?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12397
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must miantian mu right to tyops !
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9605
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"Any theory ( or partial theory ) of the English Language that is expounded in the English Language must account for ( or at least apply to ) the text of its own exposition."


Any post on a forum for teachers of the English language who purport to teach said language to others should, for heaven's sake, be written in decent English.

or

'This ain't yer cell phone. We isn't yer friends. We be profs. Write proper.'
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