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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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FYI: Public perception of linguistics

Author: Trey Jones

FYI Body: Greetings, LINGUISTs..

I just got this from a friend on the TechWriting List.. Many of the
people over there hold linguistics and linguists in rather low regard.
I've had a couple of pretty fierce fights with some of them, only to
conclude that some people really will never see that anything other
than prescriptivism is acceptable, logical, or even sane.

There have been numerous discussions on LINGUIST in the past about the
public perception and understanding of linguistics, and what could be
done to improve both. Sadly, I fear that things have taken a turn for
the worse. Read on..

> From: Mark Halpern
> Subject: linguists-are-no-damn-good paper finally published
> Date: Wednesday, February 12, 1997 4:31PM
> Colleagues,
> A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I
> announced to you that a paper I'd written
> on linguists and their relation to correc
> usage was to be published in the Atlantic
> Monthly. Probably few are still alive to
> remember that announcement, and those
> few probably think I must have been
> hallucinating -- and from time to time I'd
> have agreed with them. But the process
> has ground on, and finally spit the paper
> out: it will appear in the March issue, on
> the stands around the 25th of this month.
> Of course what has been published is a
> radically abbreviated and somewha
> bowdlerized version of what I wrote, so
> my pleasure is qualified, but I'm hoping
> that it's interesting or challenging enough
> as it stands to get people to request the
> full-strength version from me, which I'll be
> happy to send them. The Atlantic posts
> the entire editorial contents of each issue,
> a couple of weeks after it hits the stands,
> to their Web site, and invites readers to
> engage in a dialogue with the authors;
> see you on the Web, I hope!
> Mark Halpern
> mhalpern@ scopus.com

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