chapter  7
Critique of ‘the written language bias’ argument
Pages 11

One can identify basically three different types of responses to the stances adopted in Linell (1982), that is the previous and quite preliminary version of my work on the WLB in linguistics, and to other works with similar points (such as several of Roy Harris’s books). Mainstream linguists ignore the critique, or ask us why they should bother about this kind of gobbledygook, which seems to be geared towards making linguists and others halt for some time and think about what they are doing; practising linguists should instead, it is argued, contribute to linguistics by doing proper linguistic analysis. In this vein, Harris (2002b) reports on reactions to his proposals concerning the ‘language myth’ (see Chapter 8.2) that ‘instead of trying to meet the challenge head-on and defend those assumptions (i.e. of mainstream linguistic theories), what they (i.e. mainstream linguists) typically did was simply deny that that they believed in the myth […] and then carry on exactly as before’ (p. 3). Another type of reaction, though this time from people working empirically on spoken language, is to refer to the critique, usually mentioning it with approval and without counterarguments. So these two are basically non-reactions. However, there are also some criticisms, more or less serious, which have been raised, in print or in personal communication, by various people who are both theoretically oriented and often fairly close to my position. These are obviously the ones for whom the differences matter, since criticising something usually amounts to giving some dignity to it. Some of these critics argue that I have not been radical enough. In this chapter, I shall summarise some of this critique in seven points.