NewsNovember 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

People Being Sued By People Who Went To Penn: Herman Cain

Last year we wrote about Gloria Allred, hotshot celebrity attorney who went to Penn. Well, she’s back in the news because she’s involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit against GOP front-runner Herman Cain.

While our friends across the state are dealing with their own scandal, Allred’s stirring things up in Penn’s waters. Her client claims that Cain “suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt.” Cain’s response is that “the Democrat machine in America has brought forth a troubled woman to make false accusations,” and his withdrawal from the presidential race “ain’t gonna happen.”

While all of this legal stuff sorts itself out, we’re left to speculate about the real reason for Allred’s suit against Cain: she’s clearing the way for Penn’s finest to make it to the top.

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By Clayton Burns at November 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

At Penn State, some of the worst operators are being cleared out. At UPenn, Mark Liberman is still getting away with it.

His work at Language Log is a drag on progress in linguistics in America. As an example, IELTS has come around as an important subject again, this time in Australia. When Mark took up this subject on Language Log, he got so unfocused he attacked himself viciously. An entirely appropriate reaction. Instead of choosing a sample IELTS manual and comparing it with the COBUILD Intermediate English Grammar, he talked nonsense and went in such violent circles that he fell down. Hard.

As a teacher, if comments below are any indication, he is atrocious. He refuses to listen to advice, rejecting it with contempt.

His ideas about how to teach the sound systems of English meaningfully are absurd. He has next to no understanding of how to link corpus dictionaries and grammars in teaching programs so as to prepare students for literature.

The effective result of his hateful behavior is to disadvantage learners of English, especially second language learners.

He has been the subject of a complaint to the UPenn administration, but obviously impunity is the norm.

Mark Liberman UPenn Linguistics. Fall 2011 Linguistics 001: Introduction to Linguistics
COGS 501: Mathematical Foundations of Language and Communication Sciences.

Comments at

Brilliant in his field, but he can’t communicate it in his lecture classes (ironic, as he is a linguistics prof). He reads straight off of his very text-heavy notes (which are online, meaning that you can learn everything without once going to lecture) and could use some work in public speaking. The spring professor’s supposed to be much better.

Terribly boring. RUINED my interest in linguistics. It’s a shame because I would have been a linguistics major (instead of an English major) if I had a better Ling 1 professor. I didn’t rediscover linguistics (with a better prof) until my senior year. One of the worst profs at Penn.


Name: Mark Liberman School: University of Pennsylvania Location: Philadelphia, PA
Department: Languages 1.7 OVERALL QUALITY 1.7 HELPFULNESS 1.7 CLARITY

By Clayton Burns at November 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

If I were a reporter at your paper, I would interview Mark on this comment. On the details, to see if he can grasp them. (Mark Liberman has a nasty habit at Language Log of suppressing comment he cannot understand from his limited perspective):

The best program for study of these issues in American schools would be repeated and minute focus on the COBUILD Intermediate English Grammar and COBUILD English Grammar. Study of sentences through the CD of the excellent Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is also valuable.

The Language Log approach to English grammar is obsolete and unimaginative. We need to be able to diagnose a pathology such as misunderstanding of the depth of the resources of the past and construct systems so that we will be able to fit elements into sentences:

The most interesting sentence type is this counterfactual: “If you had wanted to let in the fresh air and keep out the flies, the best thing to do would have been to fix up a screen.”

“If you had fixed up a screen, that would have been the best thing to do so as to let in the fresh air and keep out the flies.”

“The best thing to do is to fix up a screen so as to let in the fresh air and keep out the flies.”

Once you have mastered such transformations, it gets easier. The reason that NYT’s On Language and Language Log have failed is the lack of depth on the fundamentals of language. Especially in grammar.

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