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I want to thank Yoel and particularly Alaric for their participation here. Yoel’s comment reminded me of what I have observed for a long time about racial relations in the U.S. and something I commented about elsewhere, so it’s fresh in my mind: A principal reason for the schism is that the very concept of racism is defined differently by white folks and black folks–but both views end up in excluding themselves from the possibility of being racist. As long as their conceptualizations help them avoid self-recognition of racism, there hardly will ever be a true meeting of minds.
Alaric, we appreciate your sharing your original article here at the Forum. I was wondering too if, Alaric, you had considered starting the article with an abstract. Also I wanted to ask about your statement: “Newton’s Third Law has never been invoked in a Linguistic setting.” Do you mean linguistic as language use, i.e., communication or the academic field of linguistics?
If the latter, then I am not surprised because the linguist’s data is typically self-constructed and structural, thus function (purpose of language) is hardly considered. I am having a hard time conceptualizing how the Third Law would apply in syntactic studies for example. Syntactic/grammatical structures are inert–it is the linguist’s imagination that gives them life. On the other hand, which may explain the birth of sociolinguistics, language use is at once born of purpose (often social), implying oppositions (coming from choices of language use) and thus inviting application of Newton’s law.
But does it have to be in the name of Newton to apply/consider/use the law? In counseling psychology it is well used without any mention of Newton’s name. Counselors operate on the principle that a change in behavior/perception/habit necessarily requires an equally opposite force in the client’s life. In search of a such an opposing force, they might invent one for the client, suggesting to them to do the opposite (of the target behavior). In national politics I came across the same principle applied toward effecting change. Sociolinguistically, I can see this happening as with the Great Vowel Shift in American English, whereby speakers of dialects have been adjusting their vowels to maintain distinctiveness in face of standardizing or globalizing influences from outside forces (my own interpretation).