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LINGUIST List 23.1018

Wed Feb 29 2012

Enter the Hall of Heroes to Meet Our First Linguist of the Day!

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Feb-2012
From: LINGUIST List <linguistlinguistlist.org>
Subject: François Grosjean on Becoming a Linguist
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We are proud to announce our first Linguist of the Day: François Grosjean!

Below is an excerpt from his story of becoming a linguist:

When I think about my first linguistics course, my mind wanders back to a
large lecture hall in the mid-sixties at the University of Paris. Around
300 of us were attending a lecture on English Linguistics taught by
Antoine Culioli. Suddenly, in his quiet voice, Culioli asked, "Is François
Grosjean there?". I raised my hand and he continued, "Tell me, in British
English, would you say ...(X)... or would you say ...(Y)...?". Because of
my secondary schooling in England, I was one of the (quasi) native speakers
that lecturers would call upon as linguistic informants. I don't remember
the two alternatives Culioli gave me but I believe they concerned some
very subtle difference in the use of a preposition. With 299 pairs of eyes
looking at me, and not really seeing how the two alternatives diverged, I
ventured, "The former, I think!". Culioli nodded his head and replied,
"Yes, that's what I thought". He continued his lecture and I sat back and
breathed a sigh of relief. Since then, I have the greatest respect for
people who are informants!

To read the rest of his story, please visit:


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