Re: Why Europe is so Contrary

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Thu 21 Nov 2002 - 21:31:28 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "Re: Why Europe is so Contrary"

    >Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > >
    > > >
    > > What you're missing here Joe is that we're talking about
    > > opinions, and if these are memes then we're both engaging in them- you
    >in a
    > > heartfelt degree of patriotism, myself in an understandably more
    > > and cautious cynicism (understandable not because I'm right, but because
    > > sitting in a country a few thousand miles closer to the mid-east, and in
    > > country with a very different political history and culture to yours).
    > >
    > > Vincent
    > >
    >implied perhaps in all of this, is that just as there are prescriptive
    >linguistics and descriptive linguistics, the thorough subjective
    >identification that is being shown by some here, in the guise of
    >patriotism, with the 'memes' that are supposed to be the object of
    >study, there is prescriptive memetics and descriptive memetics. the
    >division is not clearly stated, perhaps not recognised, in memetics (or
    >at least this list) as it is not clearly recognised in my field, law.

    Since language is a subset of memetics, the same divisions apply to the study of memetics as apply to the study of linguistics.

    The only difference between descriptive and prescriptive linguistics is the purpose for which they are used. Descriptive linguistics is the study of language through time from the beginning until now. Prescriptive linguistics is an encapsulation of how a language is used at a particular time and the rules that apply to that usage. It is used to teach people how to speak, read and/or write a particular language. Descriptive linguistics talks about how the elements of language work together and evolve over time.
      It has little to do with actually learning a language and using it on a daily basis.

    Memes also change over time and can be studied in the same way languages are studied. If you want to fit into a culture other than your own, you should study prescriptive memetics. If you want to know how memes work and evolve over time, you should study descriptive memetics. This forum is devoted primarily to descriptive memetics because we are trying to understand the how and why of memes. If your job is to understand what members of a particular culture are likely to do in a given situation, descriptive memetics would be more likely to give you useable answers.



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