LINGUIST List 3.462

Thu 04 Jun 1992

Disc: How did we become linguists?

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Directory

  1. , How did we become linguists
  2. , on becoming a linguist
  3. , Re: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris
  4. "ALICE FREED", RE: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris

Message 1: How did we become linguists

Date: 2 June 1992, 18:57:33 CST How did we become linguists
From: <Margaret.E.Winters.GA3704.at.SIUCVMBtamvm1.tamu.edu>
Subject: How did we become linguists

I have just suddenly remembered a comment made to me when I
told my plans to a Latin faculty member at Brooklyn
College when I was finishing up my senior year there -
"Philology (by which she and I meant linguistics)! - I
thought you were interested in substantive issues." Oh
well.
 Margaret
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Message 2: on becoming a linguist

Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1992 11:00 MDT on becoming a linguist
From: <REBWHLRcc.usu.edu>
Subject: on becoming a linguist


Some years before I entered grad school in Linguistics (I'd never
heard of linguistics at that point), I lived in DC. One afternoon,
feeling kinda low, I envisioned the perfect pick-me-up. I went
into a local bookstore and bought for myself a

	hardcover Roget's Thesaurus.

(that was back in the days when it was a 'real' thesaurus, exhibiting
conceptual categories, and analyzed by conceptual categories -- not
like the current frequent alphabetized version)

I immediately found a shady bench and lengthily pored over the
conceptual analysis of English vocabulary. And felt MUCH better.

Perhaps that it was also unusual that when in my early 20's, a man I
was seeing asked me what I wanted for my birthday -- what I wanted
was a Webster's Third International.

So, now I'm a lexical semanticist -- Ph.D. dissertation was on
the Lexical Entry of the English verb 'understand'. Just collected
data from CD for 'analyze' last night.

love it.

rebecca wheeler
rebwhlrcc.usu.edu
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Message 3: Re: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris

Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1992 13:40 EST Re: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris
From: <MORGANLOYOLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris


Reading the "how I became a linguist" stories is fascinating. Some
of us may have been fated-- with a Classicist for one parent and an
English teacher for the other, what else does one do if not languages?
In my case, it has turned out to be primarily historical linguistics,
but the impulse is the same-- patterns over time.

L. Morgan
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Message 4: RE: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris

Date: 4 Jun 92 12:05:00 EST
From: "ALICE FREED" <FREEDapollo.montclair.edu>
Subject: RE: 3.457 How did we end up linguists, Z. Harris

Two recent though different topics, "How did we end up as
linguists," and "Tributes to Zellig Harris" take me back to the
exact same time and place so I feel compelled to comment.

How we ended up as linguists is quite a different question from
how we actually discovered linguistics. I prefer leaving aside
the psychological and intellectual reasons for "ending up" as a
linguist. But the story that I like to tell is that as a 2nd
semester freshman at the University of Pennsylvania in the
mid-sixties, I sat down with the college catalog to see what
besides English and French literature I might study. (I thought
there were too many majors in those departments.) I literally
discovered linguistics from the catalog. So at the beginning of my
sophomore year I took my first linguistics course to see if I
liked it. I became one of only three undergraduate majors in
linguistics at Penn. at the time and went on to do my graduate
work there as well.

I don't know whether Zellig Harris or Henry Hoenigswald or some
combination of both of them plus others "created" linguistics at
Penn, but I am grateful to them all.

I studied with Zellig Harris for two and a half years. Despite his
debated standing in our field today, he was an inspiration to me
as a student. Whether or not he did us a disservice by his
intellectual and professional isolationism, he talked to us about
language in ways that were stimulating and exciting. He typically
started his seminars, always held in his office, (which was always
uncomfortably crowded), by asking if there were any questions. A
single question would then become a two-hour lecture. His stream
of consciousness lecturing style, which included a description of
whatever piece of linguistic theory he was mulling over at the
time, was more organized than many carefully prepared lectures I
have heard. He covered the small blackboard in his office with
his tiny handwriting and dispensed with all classroom formalities
such as course requirements, grading and exams. He devoted his
life to the study of language and assumed that his students were
doing the same.

I join others in mourning his death.
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