Talk:James Matisoff

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Contentious Material?[edit]

The statement "The latter provides the most detailed account to date of Proto-Tibeto-Burman (PTB), with reconstructions of over one thousand PTB roots," completely accepts the validity of M's work. The fact that some reviews have been critical is less contentious a claim. Tibetologist (talk) 05:59, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi Tibetologist,
I am glad to see your contributions on Tibetan history and philology, which will allow the English-speaking world to better understand this important and fascinating region.
With respect to the Matisoff biography, the existence of critical reviews in itself is not contentious, but the phrasing in that sentence certainly has a contentious tone. Furthermore, isolated references to an ongoing academic debate seem a bit inappropriate for a basic biographical sketch.
Lalidz Lalidz (talk) 03:00, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
If you find the tone of the sentence in question contentious please feel free to rewrite it. Perhaps you are right that mention of issues of ongoing academic debate is not appropriate for a biography. If so then the description of the 2003 book is limited to the mere mention of its publication. Currently that paragraph contains laudatory information which I think is taken from the back of the book. Equally inappropriate for a biography. Tibetologist (talk) 08:56, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
Tibetologist, I agree with Lalidz's comment that the tone of your contribution was contentious, especially the unnecessary jab at the "avowed culmination" of Matisoff's work. Omitting any reference to Matisoff's published reply to Sagart (Diachronica 24:2) also suggests bias. In the interest of fairness, any such criticism should be situated in the context of Matisoff's well-known history of scholarly disputes, including those with Burling, Weidert, Miller, etc. Although these debates comprise only a small subset of his publications, they might make for an interesting (and colorful) section of his bio page...though the policy on BLPs would have to be kept in mind so it doesn't read like a tabloid. Dwbruhn (talk) 05:03, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
I could not agree more that an appropriate contextualization of M's work would be desireable. Sagart's rejoiner and M's rejoinder to the rejoinder may also be worth including reference to. None of this however would require removal of the citations which are already there.Tibetologist (talk) 09:00, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

I think that Wikipedia really isn't a forum well-suited for detailing an ongoing academic debate. The paragraph on Matisoff (2003) certainly was not taken from the back of the book; I summarized the contents quickly and indicated the regions where the ST languages are spoken. I really don't see anything laudatory there, but am okay with the paragraph being deleted. comment added by Lalidz (talk) 07:23, 19 September 2010 (UTC)