LINGUIST List 3.475

Thu 11 Jun 1992

Disc: Why is linguistics in trouble?

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  1. Dr M Sebba, Re: 3.463 Department Closures

Message 1: Re: 3.463 Department Closures

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 92 16:34:58 WERe: 3.463 Department Closures
From: Dr M Sebba <>
Subject: Re: 3.463 Department Closures

In spite of smiling inwardly several times on reading those very
personal accounts of "how I got to be a linguist", I gave up reading
them. It all seemed far too much like fiddling while Rome is burning.
When the last few months have seen so many linguistics departments threatened
with closure, and the last ten years have seen so many actually closed (in
Britain at least, much more serious and difficult questions need to be asked:

Why is linguistics transparent?
Why does the general public, which unfortunately seems to include the
directors/principals of major educational establishments where linguistics
is taught, not perceive the value of studying language?
What can we do to defend and promote our own discipline?

I felt the discussion about linguistics and the media went part of the way
to showing how our discipline is misrepresented and misunderstood, but
hardly any way to correcting that.

I bow to the person (I'm sorry I can't remember who it was) who suggested
that our departments should be renamed Department of Grammar. An astute
comment on the current political and societal context.

Mark Sebba
Department of Grammar, Spelling and Phonics
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