LINGUIST List 3.485

Fri 12 Jun 1992

Disc: Linguistics vs. grammar, ling. dept. troubles

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Directory

  1. , Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?
  2. John S. Coleman, 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
  3. South Asia Regional Studies, 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
  4. "Michael Kac", Re: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
  5. Michael Covington, Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?
  6. Swann Philip, 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
  7. Dr F Katamba, Re: 3.476 SOAS saved...for now

Message 1: Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 92 12:46 CDT
From: <ASHELDONvx.acs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?

I second Mark Sebba's call to reflect on why Linguisticx is in the
difficulties we have seen. I want to add that it is not only the general
public that can benefit from knowing more about linguistics, but more
importantly our colleagues who are make these decisions to close linguisticsd
at our universities who seem to know little about linguistics, or to
be negatively disposed to it. On more than one occasion I have been told
that a colleague took "one or two courses in graduate school" as part of
some requirement, and the impression I got was that they did not come
away with a positive feeling about it. These colleagues, 20 or so years
later, are now in influential positions at a university, and their
understanding or attitude to linguistics has not changed much over the
years.
Amy Sheldon
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Message 2: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 92 13:46:36 ED3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
From: John S. Coleman <jscmbeya.research.att.com>
Subject: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

My suggestion was a purely mercenary one, to do with
names of departments, not the name of the subject, or
what you call yourself at parties etc. I think that
when a department is faced with closure, as a great
many linguistics departments are, what matters is the
opinion of the people doing the closing-down, not
general public attitudes. `Grammar' may be a dirty
word to some people, but in my opinion it seems to
be quite highly respected amongst politicians and
policymakers in Britain and the US.

If it's an entertaining suggestion you want, then
how about Department of Trivia (= Grammar, Logic
and Rhetoric). Seriously though, a change to Department
of Grammar may be a bit hard to swallow (question of
swallowing our pride, perhaps?), but unemployment
with diminishing possibilities for relocation is
harder.

--- John Coleman
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Message 3: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Date: 11 Jun 92 14:11:44 EST
From: South Asia Regional Studies <SASIAPENNSAS.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Dennis Baron's experience in the dentist's chair is, of course, a common one.
It isn't difficult to understand or explain the attitude expressed by the
dentist. One only has to think about his/her childhood experience at the hands
of the secondary school English teacher. Apparently the "tradition" of turning
off our children to language study is alive and well, as my thirteen-year-old
son and his peers have recently informed me. If we're going to change the name
of Linguistics Departments to "Dept. of Grammar," let us also change the way
we teach grammar to our children.
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Message 4: Re: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 92 14:37:18 -0Re: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
From: "Michael Kac" <kaccs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

An addendum to Dennis Baron's list of contexts in which '
grammar' is used as a dirty word: In the Russ Rymer article on Genie
which recently occasioned so much omment on LINGUIST, there is a sen-
tence containing the phrase 'as much blood as can be squeezed from
grammarians ...'

Michael Kac
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Message 5: Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 92 16:51:13 EDRe: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?
From: Michael Covington <MCOVINGTuga.cc.uga.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.475 Why is linguistics in trouble?

It seems that the general academic public is unaware that linguistics
deals with fundamental issues in language teaching, grammar, speech
therapy, you name it. I've found that a lot of academics think of
linguistics as a (pseudo?)scientific outgrowth of a lot of solid fields
that would get along fine without it. In fact a surprising number of
people think linguistics = structuralist literary theory.
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Message 6: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1992 07:32:16 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?
From: Swann Philip <swanndivsun.unige.ch>
Subject: 3.477 Linguistics or grammar?

Come on! You guys can't be serious. All kinds of people study
language from all kinds of perspectives (biology, neuropsychology,
computation, history, philosophy etc) - it is a thriving
interdisciplinary field. If "theoretical" linguists want to
survive, they have to demonstrate that their theoretical constructs
actually serve some purpose. Otherwise they will go the way of
zoologists who continued to classify stuffed animals while the
rest of the world was discovering molecular biology and ecology...

Philip Swann
University of Geneva
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Message 7: Re: 3.476 SOAS saved...for now

Date: Fri, 12 Jun 92 09:53:48 +0Re: 3.476 SOAS saved...for now
From: Dr F Katamba <eia011cent1.lancs.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 3.476 SOAS saved...for now

I am delighted to see that sense has prevailed - for now. What a relief!

Best,

Francis
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