Incident manufacturing in real time

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If you read history, you have certainly noticed a pattern. Whoever hopes to start an unjustified military campaign against somebody else must first create an “incident”.

For example, when the Soviets wanted to attack Finland, they first created an incident in Manila in Novermber 26, 1939, where, it was alleged, the Finns started the war by shooting at the Russians. The event was staged. Four days later, the Soviets attacked Finland in “defence”. Read More

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Horizontal and vertical modularity in language

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After you have a reasonably good (descriptive) grasp of the rules that are in operation in your language, then the next task would be to find out how they are organized with respect to each other. This is the work I am now doing for Finnish, and here’s how I depict this task for myself. If you work with some other language, maybe this can help you. Read More

Unsolved problems of Finnish: floating of null pronouns?

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I decided to post here certain problems of Finnish I’ve been unable to solve. If you can solve them, write your solution to this blog or send it to me via email, and you’ll get it into the annals of Finnish syntax research. You don’t need to tell me the answer, especially if you are not a native speaker, but some idea of how we could proceed to find the answer, even in principle.

The first challenge is to find out if it is possible to float an empty pronoun in Finnish.

Let’s formulate the problem more precisely first. The problem can be stated as follows. In Finnish, under certain conditions a subject pronoun can be phonologically null.

(1) Pekka sanoi että __ uskoo Merjan valehtelevan.
Pekka said that __ believes that Merja lies.

Here, the subject position of the embedded clause is empty, but the consequence is that it must refer to the same person as the matrix clause subject. Hence in (1), the person who believes that Merja lies must be Pekka. If you use an overt pronoun hän ‘he’ instead, it can also refer to a third party. Let’s designate this type of special null pronoun as “pro” (from pro-noun).  (Notice that in English, it is not possible to do (1), but in Italian it is; in Italian, the null third person pronoun cannot be controlled by the matrix clause antecedent, however.)

The second preliminary to this problem is the fact that in Finnish, being a “free” word order language, arguments can be floated like adverbs. Thus, the following is possible:

(2) Pekka sanoi että tämän kirjan lainasi __ kirjastosta Merja.
Pekka said that this book.acc borrowed __ from.library Merja.nom

The grammatical subject Merja ‘Merja.nom’ has been floated to the clause-final position, whereas the direct object is in the subject slot. This is why the word order in Finnish finite contexts is “free”. 

The problem: is it possible to float (in the sense of 2) also null pronouns (pro in 1)?

Because pro is phonologically null, it becomes hard to construct an experiment that could detect such movement, if it were possible. Yet it is near certain that either such movement is possible or it isn’t, so there could or should be a way. I can’t find it.

Can you?

The purge of Alex Jones’ Infowars

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The sterilization of the Internet is going forward full speed. Big channels are being de-platformed left and right, one of them being Alex Jones and his Infowars channel that was recently purged from several platforms, all at once. He had millions of subscribers. Tech monopolies will ultimately become like modern cable TVs – controlled news plus mindless entertainment. Read More

Ajatuksia fennistiikan nykyvaiheesta (2018)[in Finnish]

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Oheisesta linkistä löytyy suomenkielinen käsikirjoitus Ajatuksia fennistiikan nykyvaiheesta, jossa tarkastelen fennistiikan tilaa tieteen historian ja tieteenfilosofian näkökulmasta. Kommentteja voi lähettää minulle sähköpostilla tai laittaa tähän blogiin. Koitan julkaista lopullisen version tämän vuoden aikana. Käsikirjoitus käsittelee teemoja joista olen kirjoittanut tässä blogissa, mutta se on laadittu tieteellisen artikkelin muotoon ja suomeksi. Lisäksi siinä on jo melko paljon lähdeviitteitä asiasta kiinnostuneelle.

Artikkelissa kuvataan ensin keskiaikaista aristoteelista tutkimusmenetelmää sekä sen sovelluksia fennistiikassa. Käytin taas kerran esimerkkinä Laura Visapään tutkimusta relatiivilauseista — toisaalta Visapään työ on vain esimerkki siitä, mitä kaikki tekevät. Sen jälkeen selvitän, miten 1600-luvulla kehitetty menetelmä (ns. “scientific method”) eroaa keskiaikaisesta menetelmästä, ja lopuksi pohdin mitä tämä menetelmä voisi tuoda fennistiikkaan.

Mielestäni aihe on tärkeä, koska tämäkin ala tulee vääjäämättä siirtymään modernin tieteen aikakauteen kuten muutkin tieteenalat; kysymys on vain milloin. Ehkäpä artikkeli auttaa nuorempia sukupolvia valmistautumaan tähän muutokseen?

Some thoughts on language technology

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I have been recently in talks with several research projects and private companies who are in the language technology/AI field. In several first world countries (excluding the idiot belt of course) the field is huge. More than once I have now encountered a situation in which not one qualified candidate has shown up for an open position in this field, yet the career possibilities are practically unlimited.

Where is everybody? Read More

Youth unemployment, populism and socialist utopias

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Over half of the young Italians voted for one of the populist parties that now came into power in Italy. Why did they vote so recklessly?

In the EU, and most likely in the whole West, approximately 30% of the young are unemployed. How is it possible that the people with the most physical stamina, intellectual energy, power and new ideas, people who should establish families and make children, people whose brains are still working properly, are rotting at home with nothing to do?

In any normal times, they would be the one doing all the work; the old would be at home. But these are not normal times.

We know why everything is upside down. There is a gigantic suck that drains all the energy and channels it to the old. It taxes 60-70% of everything ever happens, and then maintains huge bureaucracies, pensions, utopian projects, massive indoctrination regimes and other megalomanic projects. All this on a scale never seen before in history.

And because not even the 60-70% is enough for its megalomania, these governments now accumulate debts and print money to fund everything; debts that you, the young, are supposed to pay later – on the top of everything else. Will you?

So, everybody sees that things aren’t going well. Yet, these same young people also think that socialism is the answer. In other words, they want even more of the same.

“Socialism” is a term that has been misused. If you think of socialism in the sense of Marx, for example, it means workers’ (and not capital’s) control of production.  That is not the same as totalitarian state, welfare utopia, universal basic income, 70% taxation, printing of free money, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. It means that those who work in an enterprise control and own it and share whatever it produces. But the young people are not looking for this system. They are looking for a world in which everything is free.

And that is exactly what we have today.

Can’t you see that this just is the ingenious thinking behind the system in which everybody is sucking everybody else by using government coercion as a tool?

Here’s how the baby boomers figured it out: “Hey, looks like I’m going to retire. I really haven’t saved enough for a nice and comfortable pension . . .  Better suck the next generation.”

So our pension contributions skyrocketed.

And the bureaucrats: “Looks like there’s not enough resources to provide comfortable living. Why not to print more? Why not to tax houses, cars, televisions, Internet, all sales; why not to tax housing purchases, emissions? Why not to add “solidarity tax” for the rich? Let’s add “freedom tax” for the poor. We should also consider an “Internet tax”. Indeed, why not to tax everything that anybody ever has to do.”

And the rich and entrepreneurs: “I can’t afford these taxes. Can you pay me in cash?”

And so here we are today. The young are the losers in this game because they have no power.

I’m worried, because this type of socialism is the exact wrong answer to our problems.

Instead, the massive bureaucracies and megalomanic government schemes have to be scaled back, so that a normal person can, by using his or her honest labour, afford a decent life. This massive bureaucratization of everything that has been going on for the last century just did not work.

But when the real power transfer finally occurs, and the system breaks down, can the young realize this?

Or do we repeat history?