Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 4 12:41:45 UTC 2011

I was puzzled to discover that OED lists "linguist n. †3. An
interpreter. Obs.". There is an apparent exception made for China, where
the term may be "perhaps not yet obsolete". The last citation is from 1882.

Yet, the term is alive an well in the US military--where it came up
repeatedly over the past decade in connection with the Iraq War and,
particularly, because of DADT that forced the removal of a number of
"army linguists". Language Log has had some coverage of this, but, as
far as I can recall, never mentioned the OED entry.

The bottom line is that there is nothing obsolete about it. It might
have been restricted to jargon and regionalism (e.g., China), but it is
still being used regularly.


The American Dialect Society -

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