I’m still reading Leonard Shlain’s The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image [ Powell’s | Amazon ], but I was moved to comment by some passages this morning. As I said to
This morning I got to the part where he explained that Chinese does not have parts of speech, or even words really. The dude totally jumped the shark. I lived in Taiwan for years as a kid, picked up bits and pieces of Mandarin back in the day. I studied the language formally in college for four semesters. I’m pretty damned sure Chinese has words. Either Shlain is articulating some pretty esoteric linguistic theory, or he’s talking out his ass. Running into such a profoundly silly set of assertions has significantly undermined my already shaky confidence in the rest of the book.
I’m not quite ready to dump him, but that was an egregious intellectual foul.