LINGUIST List 12.890

Thu Mar 29 2001

Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. A.F. GUPTA, Re: 12.870, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Message 1: Re: 12.870, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 12:12:58 GMT
Subject: Re: 12.870, Disc: The Role of Lecturers in Universities

One thing that has been especially interesting about this discussion
has been the failure of some correspondents to understand that
'lecturer' refers to different referents in different places. This
relates to some central issues in the study of English as a world
language. Goerlach used the term 'heteronym' to refer to different
words used in different places to refer to the same referent
(e.g. lounge / parlo(ur); boot / trunk; diaper / nappy). There terms
are a bit slippery. The referents may differ (what's called a
'lounge' by Person A in Place X may be functionally and
architecturally distinct from what's called a 'parlour' by Person B in
Place Y; Person C in Place Z may use 'diaper' for the disposable sort
and 'nappy' for the washable ones).

But lecturer is the converse of a heteronym -- it's the same word for
a different referent (the same is true of 'robins' in UK/Ireland vs
'robins' in the US, and 'magpies' in UK/Ireland vs Australia -- not
the same birds). I think we have three main meanings:

Lecturer1: as in the UK and some other places. Most university
teachers are lecturers (either Lecturer A, Lecturer B, Senior
Lecturer, or Principal Lecturer). Doctoral degree and publications
usually required. May be fixed term or permanent. Involves teaching
and research. In UK universities the head of department is appointed
from those of Senior Lecturer and above. Some universities that used
to have this nomenclature (e.g. Singapore & Hong Kong) have renamed
most lecturers and now call them professors (of various sorts) in
recognition of the dominance of the US nomenclature.

Lecturer2: as, I gather in Canada. Teaching post, seen as a potential
dead end.

Lecturer3: translation of Gmn 'lektor' (and of similar Italian and
French terms presumably). A 'native speaker' employed by a language
teaching department in a university. Traditionally temporary,
underpaid, overworked, and of lower status than permanent staff.

When we use English, teach English, and analyse English on the world
stage, we need to look out for these traps.

Anthea (a Senior Lecturer in a UK university, permanent job)

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Anthea Fraser GUPTA :
School of English
University of Leeds
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