LINGUIST List 5.588

Sat 28 May 1994

Disc: Linguistics and popular publications

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  1. benji wald, Re: 5.603 The treatment of language in popular publications

Message 1: Re: 5.603 The treatment of language in popular publications

Date: Wed, 25 May 94 16:14 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 5.603 The treatment of language in popular publications

If you want to solve the misperception/ignorance of linguistics (and language)
 problem write COMPREHENSIBLE popular books. If you only have time for
"serious" specialised work all you can do is write angry letters, and hope
that if they are published they will be understood. Personally, I think
the angry letter strategy is of limited impact. Better to start a linguistic
fan club for ordinary readers. Who wants to be the Asimov of linguistics?
Or SJ Gould? I think there is a certain snobbism in linguistics that
disdains the desire to talk to the public (or is it an insecurity?), so
that one who writes for a "popular" audience could fear being looked down
upon and not taken seriously by colleagues. It's more complicated than that,
but I don't want to go on at length here. I'd like to know
whether and where this perception comes from, and/or if anyone agrees. My
feeling is that linguists who don't want to "waste their time" talking to
outsiders, shouldn't waste their time fretting over what outsiders think.
 Benji
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