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LINGUIST List 23.1568

Wed Mar 28 2012

LINGUIST--the central source of information for our profession

Editor for this issue: Matthew Lahrman <mattlinguistlist.org>

Date: 28-Mar-2012
From: LINGUIST List <linguistlinguistlist.org>
Subject: A letter from LINGUIST List Advisor Martin Jacobsen
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Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

I am Dr. Martin M. Jacobsen, the newest member of the Linguist
List Advisory Board. My training is in discourse analysis, but
I suppose you could call me an all-purpose linguist in practice.
You might say I'm a "campus linguist" teaching 6-10
linguistics classes a year. I'm very pleased to be teaching
linguistics classes, which range from introduction to
linguistics to language acquisition to grammar to history
of the English language.

Before I became the "campus linguist," I was an editor for the
Linguist List (referred to hereafter and with great affection
as LINGUIST). When I started to look for doctoral programs,
I looked for programs that offered, among other things,
opportunities in linguistics. I just knew that LINGUIST was
one such opportunity. I had no idea how well I had chosen
until I began working as one of the first student editors
of LINGUIST in July, 1997.

I think I was the second Texas A&M graduate student to work
as an editor for LINGUIST. I was pursuing a concentration
in discourse studies, with most of my coursework in
linguistics or rhetoric. I was able to apply both in my
work with LINGUIST. And I learned a lot about internet
technology, posting issues in UNIX and learning HTML code
back when we "wrote it by hand." I'll never forget what
it felt like to post an issue or update a page--or make a
mistake--and immediately reach 13,000 people--a worldwide
audience that never slept. It's gratifying to realize
that we've more than doubled our membership since that
time. With all the upgrades and platform changes since
those early days, the technological advance of LINGUIST
is truly remarkable as well.

That advantage was only partially technological. The
technology was only the means. The power of LINGUIST
derives from the vision of its founders: Anthony Rodriguez
Aristar and Helen Aristar-Dry. Without their devotion to
the profession of linguistics, there would be no LINGUIST.
Their constant quest--to make the professional aspects of
linguistics more accessible for all--drove all their decisions.
Their devotion to efficiency and accuracy more than once
brought them to my office door or email inbox with an idea
or a suggestion--or a reproach. We editors made mistakes,
and we never had to guess when they happened with the entire
world watching. We learned to roll with the punches,
understanding that in many respects the significance of the
errors we made was precisely the result of the marvel we
were creating. It was Anthony and Helen then--and John
Remmers and Andrew Carnie and a handful of student editors,
working around the clock to keep LINGUIST going. We worked
around the clock because LINGUIST issues needed to go out
and LINGUIST pages needed to be updated. It wasn't a job
or a duty. It was much more like a family. LINGUIST was
our family project.

Working for LINGUIST gave me an opportunity not only to
learn about linguistics and internet technology but also
to watch a profession in action. By the time I began
working for LINGUIST, everything was starting to be announced
there: jobs, conferences, books. I was able to participate
vicariously in discussions that would never have been available
to me just 5 years earlier. I met people and had daily contact
with the leading names in the linguistics profession.

But it didn't stop there. LINGUIST wasn't the only thing I was
doing. I was a doctoral student. When I started to think about
what my project would be, I found myself drawn to things I was
learning from my experience with LINGUIST. Ultimately, I wrote
about the psychodynamics of hypertext and virtual communities.
I used LINGUIST as my data--not the information we posted but
the virtual community LINGUIST had become by that time. So I
was writing about LINGUIST while I was helping to create it.
The fusion of my scholarly activity and the assistantship
paying for it could not have been a better fit for me. As a
result of this lovely combination, I became the first
Linguist List editor to earn a Ph.D. Working for
LINGUIST wasn't what I did to get through graduate school;
LINGUIST was graduate school.

Since my time with LINGUIST, countless others have benefited
from the same opportunities. As I noted earlier, when I worked
for LINGUIST as an editor, there were only 3 or 4 of us, the
moderators, and a programmer. Now LINGUIST boasts 17 editors,
five reviewers, four managers, three programmers, and of
course, 2 moderators--Anthony and Helen--and one well-served
and grateful discipline. I teach linguistics classes to an
average of 200 students per year. I've been the "campus
linguist"--teaching education, English and speech pathology
students--for about 5 years now. Numerous people who have
worked for LINGUIST between 2001 when I left (yes, I worked
for LINGUIST during the first two years of my assistant
professorship) and my return this year. Assuming most of
these people will pursue linguistics as a profession, think
of the direct impact that has had and will continue to have
on reaching students.

When I was invited to join the Linguist List Advisory Board,
I contemplated a list of names that included people I cited
in my dissertation, people whose work defines the fields of
linguistics. It seemed at first that I had come full circle.
But LINGUIST isn't circular. LINGUIST isn't about going
backward. LINGUIST looks ahead. LINGUIST moves forward.
LINGUIST grows. LINGUIST supports linguists, students, and
others who then in turn influence others. It's not just a
website and mailing list. LINGUIST produces and sustains a
direct influence on the profession from its own ranks in
addition to providing the central source of information for
the profession.

Please consider contributing to LINGUIST. It's an investment
in the future of linguistics.


Martin Jacobsen

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