That’s what I’ve been doing lately. It’s a gigantic job. It’s come under some withering criticism lately, but I have some top Sinologists supporting me on this, and the critics are just nobodies with big mouths. Ahem. One of the criticisms was that since I don’t speak, read or write Chinese, I can’t possibly do this. But top Sinologists have told me that this is a fallacy. You don’t really need to be literate in Chinese to study Chinese language, art, history, culture, etc. Sure it helps, but it’s not necessary. Further, this runs up against the thing that I noted earlier. Linguists do not necessarily speak lots of languages, or even more than one. We just study languages. A lot of us are at least bilingual, but I’ve known some major linguists who were not fluent in much more than English. As far as classification goes, you don’t need to be literate in any more than one language. Let us look at one of the greatest classificationists of all time (in my opinion), the recently deceased Joseph Greenberg. Now Greenberg tried to classify most of the languages on the face of the Earth. In order to do this, he had to study over 5,000 languages, just about every language that is spoken. I’m certain that Greenberg did not speak 5,000 languages, or even 500, or for that matter, even 50. How many he spoke is not known, but I doubt if it was a very high number.
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