LINGUIST--the central source of information for our profession
Editor for this issue: Matthew Lahrman
Date: 28-Mar-2012 From: LINGUIST List <linguistlinguistlist.org> Subject: A letter from LINGUIST List Advisor Martin Jacobsen E-mail this message to a friend
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.
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