The Bill Question

Aronson et al.

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Contributions to the Study of Linguistics and Languages in Honor of Bill J. Darden on the Occasion of His Sixty-Sixth Birthday.


"Howard Aronson tells a story from the days when Bill Darden was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. When Howie taught Bill in his Introduction to Slavic Linguistics, a course in which Howie masterfully guided beginning graduate students using the Socratic method, he always became nervous whenever Bill raised his hand.This was because Bill invariably had a question that went straight to the weak point of any argument. This phenomenon has become known at Chicago as “The Bill Question,” and it is one that Bill can and does ask at every linguistic talk, no matter what the subject matter or theoretical orientation. Unlike the Eastern Question or the Macedonian Question, the Bill Question is one that seeks to understand the empirical and theoretical explanations of linguistic phenomena. It is a question utterly devoid of malice and thoroughly infused with the quest for knowledge. That is the kind of mentor, colleague and scholar Bill is."

-From the Preface by Victor A. Friedman