LINGUIST List 3.241

Wed 11 Mar 1992

Disc: Linguistics In The Press

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  1. Johanna Rubba, Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press
  2. Geoffrey Russom, Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press
  3. , Linguists in the news

Message 1: Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 92 21:01:59 PSTRe: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press
From: Johanna Rubba <rubbabend.UCSD.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press

I'd like to respond to Michael Kac's response to my posting on ling. in
the popular press. Two points: (a) It's very true that linguistics gets
into an educated person's education far less frequently than other sciences;
this is a problem of not yet succeeding ingetting linguistics and anthro
topics into elementary and high school curricula, something it would
probably be worth our while to campaign for somehow or other, although the
prospects for doing so might be dim. There are some people working on this,
right? I seem to recall seeing something to this effect associated with
Geoff Nunberg's name.

As to the invalid comparison of journalists with ling 101 students, I get
the point, of course, but I also insist that it isn't _that_ hard to
explain linguistics to people, even in a one-time telephone interview
with a journalist. In my experience, I have been able to convey some
pretty arcane points to lay folk, and also to convey the point that a
lot of arcane linguistics would require a few years of coursework to
understand. I mean, I sat down with my journalist friend and went over
that grammar gene piece, and I think, with about a half hour of talk,
I was able to 'translate' what I thought the article meant into something
he could understand better than what he got out of the original, and
something that sounded a little less far-fetched (I agree with Joe Stemberger
that it probably is premature to link any aspect of language to a single
gene, but that's not a very informed opinion -- I haven't read the
research the article was about, and don't know much about genetically
transmitted language deficits).

In his novel "Cat's Cradle" Kurt Vonnegut had a line that went something like
'any scientist who can't explain what s/he is doing to an eight year-old
is a charlatan.' While that clearly is an overstatement, there's a grain
of truth in it, and I have long been inspired by the line.

Jo Rubba, UC San Diego
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Message 2: Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press

Date: Sat, 07 Mar 92 14:53:24 ESRe: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press
From: Geoffrey Russom <EL403015brownvm.brown.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.230 Linguistics in the Popular Press

It was the **March** SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN that had the profile
slamming those of us who are skeptical about deep reconstruction.
Sorry I misread the month, and apologies for any confusion. Guess the
smoke coming out my ears got in my eyes.

 -- Rick
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Message 3: Linguists in the news

Date: Tue, 10 Mar 92 19:13:19 CSLinguists in the news
From: <DBEDELL3UA1VM.bitnet>
Subject: Linguists in the news

Another linguist goes public. Note that Klingon typology is OVS--do any
human languages follow that order? --D. Bedell, U. of Alabama

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