LINGUIST List 10.32

Fri Jan 8 1999

Disc: Discipline Recognition

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Davisjos, Does linguistics exist in America?

Message 1: Does linguistics exist in America?

Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 07:40:38 EST
From: Davisjos <>
Subject: Does linguistics exist in America?

Carl Mills (LINGUIST 10.28) rightly laments the virtual absence of
linguistics in academia. As one whose department (Columbia) closed
just as work on the dissertation was beginning, I am moved to respond.
My sense is that linguistics, in the '60s and '70s particularly, made
itself irrelevant by indeed proclaiming its irrelevance to such
important fields of inquiry as communication, literature, and society.
This act of burning bridges perhaps can be traced back to the American
descriptivists' misguided attempt to construct an "autonomous"
linguistics. Simultaneously, many theoretical linguists have appeared
to disdain the peripheral fields that do represent attempts to make
linguistics relevant to something, foremost among them (i.e., at the
bottom), so-called applied linguistics. What does linguistics need to
do? Come to terms with the fact that language functions in a social
and meaningful context, not in a vacuum.

Joseph Davis
City College of New York
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue