LINGUIST List 5.1147
Wed 19 Oct 1994
Editor for this issue: <>
Karl Teeter, Re: 5.1129 "linguistician"
benji wald, "linguistician"
Message 1: Re: 5.1129 "linguistician"
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 10:41:10 Re: 5.1129 "linguistician"
From: Karl Teeter <kvthusc.harvard.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.1129 "linguistician"
Thank you, Sheila Embleton, for recalling me to my scholarly duty. As I
have said, these days I am generally too lazy to look things up unless I have
to. Since you insist, I back up my human memory by quoting an
entry from Eric P. Hamp, A Glossary of American Technical Linguistic Usage
1925-50, published by CIPL in 1957. "Linguistician: term which arose in
an attempt to avoid the ambiguity of linguist -polyglot-; philologist is
also ambiguous; scientific linguist, linguistic scientist, and linguistic
analyst are all cumbersome, and the first two are open to
misinterpretation as implying presumption and arrogance...-Another term,
coined in 1943 or 1944 by the magazine Time, is linguistician...has much
in its favor.' R.A. Hall Jr., SIL 7.59.1949; -It is true that the term
linguist is ambiguous, but so is the suffix -ician. It has not only the
meaning of 'a practitioner of a science' but also that of 'a member of
an occupation which is seeking for a higher status'...exemplified by
such words as mortician and beautician, implies pretentiousness rather
than precision...it is a mistake to attribute the coinage of this word
to Time. Am. Speech 12.237(1937) reports it from the Associated
Press as the invention of a Miss Annetta Sprung of Lincoln, Nebraska
high school...It does not seem to me that we would be well served in
associating ourselves with the neologisms of the current press.' E.
Haugen, SIL 8.1.1950; -The discussion is closed herewith, and the
established term linguist will continue to be used in SIL." G.L. Trager,
SIL 8.1.1950. Once more let me express my personal adherence to the term
LINGUIST despite the ambiguity: in fact, it is an occupational
hazard of the linguist that s/he is also a linguist. Yours, Karl (=Karl
V. Teeter, Professor of Linguistics, Harvard University)
Message 2: "linguistician"
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 94 17:03 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Teeters, among others, demonstrates that linguists have just as much right as
"normal" people to have strong feelings about words (if not about strings of
words). I share his revulsion for the word "linguistician", but
wonder if it's because of a deeper association of it with "lab technician", as
one who must handle and analyse urine, feces etc. In order to encourage ABDs
to stop stalling on finishing their dissertations, it might be worth
considering forcing them to call themselves "linguisticians", the pupa of
"linguISTs" who HAVE been awarded their doctorates. Imagine the social
consequences of contradicting an ABD at a cocktail party and saying "NO!
S/he's not a LINGUIST but a LINGUISTICIAN and doesn't speak ANY languages
(That's why I'm talking for him/her)." If this is too cruel to do to our own
people we can at least clamour that Safire and the rest of the people who
have their degrees in something else (or nothing) are LINGUISTICIANS, NOT
LINGUISTS. A word, even LINGUISTICIAN, is a tragic thing to waste. Benji