James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Mar 20 18:50:10 UTC 2002

In a message dated 03/19/2002 10:54:51 PM Eastern Standard Time,
write at SCN.ORG writes:

> Three of them even said they want to be linguists!!!  They wanted to know
>  what is the difference between a linguist and an etymologist.  I don't
>  know.  Who can tell me?

"linguist" has two meanings:
1) someone who knows several languages
2) someone who systematically stuidies languages, e.g. their histories,
grammars, their similarities and differences, etc.

There are people who are both 1) and 2)

An "etymologist" is someone who traces the history of individual words.

There are etymologists who speak only one language and who only trace the
histories of words in that language.  Such people are not generally
considered linguists.  On the other hand there are etymologists who are
proficient in multiple languages and hence are 1) linguists, and there are 2)
linguists who trace word histories and therefore are also etymologists.

Or to make things simpler, there is considerable overlap.

    - James A. Landau (the "A" stands for "Amateur")

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