LINGUIST List 2.558

Wed 25 Sep 1991

Disc: Linguist

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dennis Baron, lurk out, linguist
  2. Nancy L. Dray, Einstein and linguists
  3. "Bruce E. Nevin", Einstein the linguist
  4. , Re: 2.545 Linguist
  5. , Who is a Linguist?

Message 1: lurk out, linguist

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 12:09:27 CDT
From: Dennis Baron <>
Subject: lurk out, linguist
Lurk out reminds me of another new phrase I heard last week:
_loft out_, `to turn an industrial space into a living area';
also, _lofted out_, used to describe an area where this is
what is a linguist? (or rather, who, or maybe even that?):
I've noticed that when linguists want to exclude someone
from the profession, they may say something like, "Oh,
you know, so and so's just a grammarian." Linguistician
was favored as the term of choice by many earlier in the
century, when philology had died (tho it's not dead yet)
and a term was being sought for the new science. At the
time, linguist meant, as it still does to many inside
and outside the profession, someone who speaks second or
other languages well. But of course, linguistician didn't
fit the genius of the langue, and seems vaguely depreciatory
now, while linguist fits the scientific paradigm of physicist
(see the usage debate over the suitability of this term when
it became common), chemist, and so on.
as for warnings, my favorite warning was a sign at the McDonald's
in Ann Arbor: Warning, no driving through without making or
attempting to make a purchase. My heart went out to those
poor alienated souls who attempted to make a purchase but
found themselves thwarted in the effort.
and don't forget Trespassers Will, from A.A. Milne.
-- ____________ 217-333-2392
 |:~~~~~~~~~~:| fax: 217-333-4321
Dennis Baron |: :|
Dept. of English |: db :|
Univ. of Illinois |: :|
608 S. Wright St. |:==========:|
Urbana IL 61801 \\ """""""" \
 \\ """""""" \
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Message 2: Einstein and linguists

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 13:19:33 CDT
From: Nancy L. Dray <>
Subject: Einstein and linguists
In re Geoffrey Russom's 21 Sept note concerning Einstein's contacts
with linguists (branching off from the discussion about what counts
as a linguist):
I don't know about the "contacts with a Swiss scholar who introduced
him to the concept of dialectal variation" mentioned by Russom, but
my understanding is that Einstein did have some contact with Roman
Jakobson at some point; however, I can't remember specifics about
the nature of the contact or any role it may have played in the
development of the theories of either Einstein or Jakobson. As it
happens, my brother and sister-in-law are both "relativists" (yes,
 this really is what mathematicians and physicists who work on
relativity call themselves...), and at their wedding a few years ago
the guests happened to include both the editor of Einstein's letters
and the editor of Jakobson's letters. I remember that there was a
conversation between the two editors about some sort of connection
between Einstein and Jakobson, but I don't remember the content.
If Linda Waugh is hooked up to the network, perhaps she can provide
further info. In the meantime, I'm e-mailing my brother to see if
he knows any more about this...
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Message 3: Einstein the linguist

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 10:51:49 EDT
From: "Bruce E. Nevin" <>
Subject: Einstein the linguist
Geoffrey Russom <> writes:
>Michael Ka[c] asserts that "Einstein wasn't a linguist" counts as a
>totally uncontroversial and therefore uninteresting statement. But
>I read somewhere that the theory of relativity was inspired in part
>by Einstein's contacts with a Swiss scholar who introduced him to the
>concept of dialectal variation. Maybe not so uninteresting ...
Zellig Harris's wife, a physicist, was Einstein's assistant at
	Bruce Nevin
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Message 4: Re: 2.545 Linguist

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 19:32:45 BST
From: <>
Subject: Re: 2.545 Linguist
Is there such a thing as a discorse community of linguists
or more narrowly? of applied linguistics?? Membership of such
a community would separate the linguists from the rest? But
what would the criteria be? Any university degree? an MA?
papers published? a university position? Am I earning membership
via this list? I a generally working within the Swales model
of genre analysis/ discorse community - is there a different
approach to the problem?
John Wheatley
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Message 5: Who is a Linguist?

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 91 19:50 EST
From: <>
Subject: Who is a Linguist?
Michael Kac recently posted a message about "Who is a Linguist?". His
message specified that if the person worked on syntax or phonology, and
publishes in particular journals, then that makes them a linguist. His
posting omits mention of semantics, and I am not sure if this is accidental
or intentional. He later goes on to give an anecdote in which a person is
asked to say what "bat", "ball", and "diamond" have in common, and the
linguists answer is "they begin with voiced stops". Wouldn't it also
have been a linguists answer if the response had been "they all belong
to the same semantic field"? Familiarity with the conceptual apparatus
and jargon of a profession is a major part of what makes someone a member
of that profession. I disagree with Kac's contention that what makes
someone a linguist is a focus on form instead of meaning.
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