More Kirn Kibble

Since I’m quibbling with Kirn today, here’s another.

You went to college and want to learn to write well? Here’s a tip. Vanquish from your mind the entire slate of terms you heard only in classes & used only in papers. Ditch “hegemony.” Forget “problematic.” Scuttle “instantiate.”

Excellent and very old advice. Most of the commenters hadn’t heard instantiate, so maybe it should be vanquished on grounds of unfamiliarity.

Still, instantiate has a specific and highly useful meaning, with no proper substitute. It means turn an idea into a physical object or a physical activity. Other Latin-derived languages use realize, literally make real. But English uses realize for sudden comprehension, not for turning an idea into reality. So we needed a word for the Euro realize, and instantiate fills the gap.

Language doesn’t create culture, as usual.

On a random impulse I got curious about the grammar of Polynesian languages like Hawaiian. Their phonology is extremely simple. Is their grammar equally simple, or bizarrely complex?

I expected the latter, but the answer is in between. Hawaiian grammar is in the median range of complexity. It has NGDA for nouns, singular/dual/plural for pronouns, definite and indefinite articles, aspect and imperative/subjunctive but not quite tenses for verbs.

Hawaiian has one unique grammatical feature that is totally outside the default stuff, and implies a unique way of seeing the world.

Nouns are divided into two classes, based on MAKING and CHOOSING. The class of a noun is reflected in adjectives and articles, in the same way that grammatical gender is reflected in adjectives and articles in most IE languages.

Things that existed before you were here, and things that you can’t choose or influence, take the O forms of adjectives.

Things that you can make or choose take the A forms of adjectives.

Even more unique: Each noun can switch classes depending on context. You are a pre-existing O-class noun as seen by your children, and you are a made or chosen A-class noun as seen by your parents.

Wonderful! A language that implements the intrinsic need of living things to make and choose!

A skill-based language induces a skill-based culture! And sure enough, Hawaiians are famous for making things. Everyone knows about Hawaiian cars and Hawaiian watches and Hawaiian cameras and Hawaiian electronics….


This shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve been pointing out for many years that the activists who want to shape our thoughts with language are wasting their time. The correlation is at best zero, perhaps even negative. Genderless languages are spoken by people with STRONG gender roles like Persians, and strongly gendered languages are spoken by sexless people like Krauts.

= = = = =

Unoops! Rethinking the next day. I was wrong. In this case the correlation is positive. Hawaiians have a deep feel for the chain of possession and control and influence, so they DON’T NEED to make a bunch of stuff that substitutes for human relationships. Cultures with tenuous and weak relationships are more likely to replace senses and muscles and relationships by machines. This agrees with my earlier observation that languages with caseless nouns are more susceptible to materialist tyrants like Soros. Strongly linked nouns, with INflections and REflections, indicate a culture with strong links.

However! This doesn’t affect my constant theme that you can’t change culture by changing language. The causation is mostly the other way. Language is a tool that serves to express culture. Language features fade naturally when they’re no longer needed. Disconnected nouns are a symptom of a culture that has been disconnected for a long time.