Monday, 10 January 2022


Is Romanian the only language in which a 5-word vowel-only sentence is possible? "Oaia aia e a ei" (That sheep is hers).

Dominic Cummings, blog post January 2017: "Generally the better educated are more prone to irrational political opinions and political hysteria than the worse educated far from power. Why? In the field of political opinion they are more driven by fashion, a gang mentality, and the desire to pose about moral and political questions all of which exacerbate cognitive biases, encourage groupthink, and reduce accuracy. Those on average incomes are less likely to express political views to send signals; political views are much less important for signalling to one’s immediate in-group when you are on 20k a year."

Wilfred Scawen Blunt: "I love to do as my fathers did/In the days ere I was born."

Richard Nixon: “Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.”

Calvin Coolidge: “When people are bewildered they tend to become credulous.” This applies to Covid and to migration from the Third World. 

Mark Twain: "If you take a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between men and dogs."

Sir Patrick Vallance, the British Chief Scientific Officer, in March 2020.
"If you completely locked down absolutely everything, probably for a period of four months or more then you would suppress this virus. All of the evidence from previous epidemics suggests that when you do that and then you release it, it all comes back again. 
The other part of this is to make sure that we don’t end up with a sudden peak again in the winter which is even larger which causes even more problems. So we want to suppress it, not get rid of it completely which you can’t do anyway, not suppress it so we get the second peak, and also allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this to help with the whole population response which would protect everybody. "

BBC headline in 2014: 'Top EU official accuses British Government of stoking fears on immigration.' I wonder why stoking fears on immigration is a bad thing. Fearlessness about immigration has irremediable consequences, fears do not.

Neil McCartney, 1977: "I never line up with enemies of the papacy: least of all with its worst enemy, bad popes."


  1. "Oaia aia (i)e a (i)ei"... 7!

  2. Calvin Coolidge was a man of sound judgement, although even he did not see the harm the Federal Reserve was doing. Note - a Gold "Standard" is a very different thing to Gold Money. As for the general principle that government action may make a problem worse, rather than better, the Taoists grasped this thousands of years ago.

    1. This is a perfect Paul Marks comment, except that it lacks a reference to Roger Sherman.

    2. I ill remedy that at once. Roger Sherman was quite correct that moving away from physical gold and silver as money would not just undermine the economy - it would also corrupt society, leading to bankers (and those connected to them) becoming much too important. And he was also correct in holding that fiat money would allow government spending to go to insane levels - with the cost being the eventual utter ruin of the polity.

  3. To be very pedantic, despite the spelling, the Romanian sentence does not consist purely of vowels. There is a disagreement as to whether some of the sounds in the sentence are pure semivowels or approximant vowels (the former is a subset of the latter). For example, the sounds represented by the O and the I in OAIA are not true vowels to linguists (Wa-Ya).

    1. Good point, but linguists don't impress me much. Unfortunately dictionary makers are no longer trustworthy and have become progressive, but linguists should know their place.

    2. I fail to see how the study of sounds and human communication can become politicized. But they've managed to do it to medicine, so who knows... (As a side note, etymology has always fascinated me.)

    3. I replied flippantly - you made a very good point. Actually grammar is very political - it's all about whether there should be rules. The general idea nowadays is that rule s describe what everyone does. So 'an desk' is wrong because nobody says 'an desk'. 'An history' is right but 'a history' is also right because some people say that. The grammar Nazis disagree.

      Wikipedia: "Marxism and Problems of Linguistics" (Марксизм и вопросы языкознания) is an article written by Joseph Stalin, most of which was first published on June 20, 1950 in the newspaper "Pravda" (the "answers" attached at the end came later, in July and August), and was in the same year published as a pamphlet in large numbers. The article appeared in the context of the last wave of publications by Marrists who supported the Japhetic theory, attacking the "old" linguistics, that had started in Pravda on May 9. Yet, instead of supporting Marrism, Stalin brought the campaign into a full turn, decisively finishing Marrism's acceptability in Soviet science. The "discussion" in the paper lingered a little while longer but didn't bring much new, due to the impossibility of arguing with Stalin."
      Linguistics has many left-wing versions today. Marxism is not dead.

    4. One of the foremost linguists alive today, Noam Chomsky, is a Marxist. On a separate note, I believe the English colonization of India led to remarkable advances in etymological linguistics, as the learned saw patterns in the various subcontinent languages which seemed to have a connection to European languages. Sir William Jones, if I'm not mistaken, came up with the concept of Indo European languages.

    5. 'Noam Chomsky, is a Marxist'

      Not so fast:

      "So Marxism, Freudianism: any of these things I think is an irrational cult. They’re theology, so they’re whatever you think of theology; I don’t think much of it. In fact, in my view that’s exactly the right analogy: notions like Marxism and Freudianism belong to the history of organized religion."

      Noam Chomsky
      Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky (2002)
      p. 227 of Chapter Seven: Intellectuals and Social Change

      Audio: Noam Chomsky on Marxism, 2min