Stephen Jay Gould interview

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Wed Dec 22 22:53:15 MST 1999

>>  Stephen Jay Gould
>> It's like saying, "We're going to continue to teach English, but you don't
>> have to teach grammar anymore."
>This disappoints me. "Grammar" is and always has been the biggest
>shuck in the public school system. Believing that teaching grammar
>is teaching English is almost as bad as creationism.

Gould should have said, "It's like saying, 'We're going to continue to
teach English, but you don't have to teach its history anymore.  Instead,
we'll teach grammar as a Platonic ideal.'"  Literature and language should
be treated as part of history, in order to acquaint students with the alien
character of the past (i.e. what existed before the emergence of
capitalism) and thus to defamiliarize the present.  Assimilation of the
past to the present by way of Platonic ideals is an enemy of historical
materialism, and this is what Marx tries to explain to us in _Capital_.

The Oxford English Dictionary is wonderful because of its revelation of
language as history.  For instance, here's the history of "family":

*****   family 'fæmIlI, sb. Forms: 15th cent. famylye, (Sc. famyle), 15th
cent.-6 famyll(e, 15th cent.-7 familie, 16th cent. famelie, -ly, famuly,
famylie, Sc. famell, 17th cent. familly, 16th cent.- family.

ad. L. familia household, f. famulus servant.

1a. The servants of a house or establishment; the household. Obs. exc. in
family of servants .

? A. 1400 Chester Pl. (Shaks. Soc.) I. 213 You are my desciples, and of my
familie. 1641 Disc. Pr. Henry in Harl. Misc. (Malh.) III. 522 His
family..consisted of few less than five-hundred. 1707 Sloane Jamaica I. 46
The proprietor keeps a large family for its defence. 1722 De Foe Plague
(1840) 10, I was a single man..but I had a family of servants. 1794 Godwin
Cal. Williams 39 Mr. take him into his family, and
make him whipper-in to his hounds.

b. The retinue of a nobleman or grandee. Obs.

1548 Hall Chron. 171 b, The Kyng, the Quene with all their familie, shortly
folowed. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 45 Na Prelat, Erle, nor Barron..sal ryde with
ane greater familie (number) of men and hors.

c. The staff of a high military officer or (in India) state official.

1808 Elphinstone Let. 5 Sept. in Colebrooke's Life I. 185 Mr. Seton..waived
his right to nominate my family. 1809 Jas. Moore Camp. Spain 72 The Staff
Officers of Sir John Moore's family. 1856 J. W. Cole Mem. Brit. Gen. Penin.
War II. viii. 84 The officers of his family..fell in with the same humour.

d. Rom. Ant. A troop, school (of gladiators).

1863 Whyte Melville Gladiators I. 62 You look as if you belonged to the
family yourself.

2a. The body of persons who live in one house or under one head, including
parents, children, servants, etc.

1545 Joye Exp. Dan. iv. 48/1, I Nebucadnezar, happye and prosperouse in my
familie. 1631 Star Chamb. Cases (Camden) 44 His family were himself and his
wife and daughters, two mayds, and a man. A. 1729 S. Clarke Serm. (1730)
II. iii. 51 Representing..all Orders of intelligent Beings, as the Family
of God. 1794 Mrs. Radcliffe Myst. Udolpho ii, I am going to prayers with my
family. 1859 Jephson Brittany ii. 10 The difference between people who live
in Society and people who live in the family.

b. Happy Family : a collection of birds and animals of different natures
and propensities living together in harmony in one cage.

1844 in P. T. Barnum Sixty Years Recollections (1889) 120 [At Coventry] we
visited an exhibition called the 'Happy Family'. 1890 Evening News 4 Dec.
4/5 He was..on his way home with his 'Happy Family'.

3a. The group of persons consisting of the parents and their children,
whether actually living together or not; in wider sense, the unity formed
by those who are nearly connected by blood or affinity. Holy Family : see
quot. 1875.

1667 Milton P.L. x. 216 As Father of his Familie he clad Thir nakedness.
1796 H. Hunter tr. St. Pierre's Stud. Nat. (1799) III. 589 We pass..through
the love of our love Mankind. 1829 Jas. Mill Hum. Mind (1869)
II. xxii. 218 The group which consists of a Father, Mother and Children, is
called a Family. 1875 Tyrwhitt in Dict. Chr. Antiq. I. 661 Family-The Holy.
The subject which bears this title in modern art is generally a group
consisting of the Virgin Mother, bearing the Sacred Infant, of St. Joseph,
and frequently of the younger St. John Baptist and occasionally of St.

b. A person's children regarded collectively.

1732 Pope Ep. Bathurst 382 Seldom at Church..But duly sent his family and
wife. 1876 Miss Braddon J. Haggard's Dau. xxx. 280 'I'm a man with a long
fambly.' Mod. He has a large family....

10. Phrases.

a. in a or the family way : in a domestic manner; with the freedom of
members of the same family: without ceremony. Also in family (= F. en

1709 Steele & Addison Tatler No. 136 P1 His Wife is the Daughter of an
honest House, ever bred in a Family-Way. 1768 Woman of Honor I. 87 Dining
together, in family. 1784 Lett. to Honoria & Marianne II. 64 She
would..stay some time with them, quite in the family way. 1789 G. Keate
Pelew Isl. 107 At the house of this Chief they were received quite in a
family way. A. 1809 J. Palmer Like Master like Man (1811) I. 193 You'll
find all in the family way. 1854 J. S. C. Abbott Napoleon (1855) II. xii.
214 We should have discussed our interests in a family way. 1859 Thackeray
Virgin. II. x. 74 Why don't we ask him and his ladies to come over in a
family way and dine with some other plain country gentlefolks?

b. ( to be in the family way : pregnant. Also to put in the family way : to
make pregnant.

1796 Mrs. E. Parsons Myst. Warn. I. 90 The Countess was again in the family
way. 1840 Lady C. Bury Hist. of Flirt xxvi, Esther is in the family-way.
1875 Jowett Plato (ed. 2) III. 62 The wives..will have a fine easy time
when they are in the family way. 1898 Sessions Paper Feb. 266, I did not
put his wife in the family way. A. 1935 T. E. Lawrence Mint (1955) ii. ix,
There's only one thing..that the Air Force can't do: put us in the family
way....   *****

Originally, the word "family" referred to the servants of a house.  Only in
the late seventeenth century, the "family" came to mean "the group of
persons consisting of the parents and their children."  The history of the
word teaches us the history of social reproduction.


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