What is linguistics? What is it good for?
jrubba at calpoly.edu
Thu Sep 8 17:35:11 UTC 2011
Linguists strive to understand the thing that enables all of human
culture: language. Without language, we could not work together. We
could not plan. We could not refer to the past, the future, the
hypothetical, or the abstract. We could not describe in detail our
individual thoughts, emotions, needs, beliefs, or desires. In other
words, we would live like other primates.
So one thing linguistics is good for is a detailed understanding of
how this amazing system works. And that is good for advancing the
understanding of human nature.
Linguistics is good for collecting the data (descriptions of as many
of the world's languages as possible) we use to develop that
Linguistics is also good for a large number of practical
applications: assessing children's language development; teaching
native and non-native languages; correcting popular myths about
language that cause social harm or ill-conceived policies and
practices; working with computer science to develop software that can
use language as humans do; detecting ideological and social
assumptions as revealed through language; developing literacy and
language-preservation programs for non-literate cultures and
threatened cultures; aiding in the detection, diagnosis, and
treatment of congenital or acquired language disorders; working with
developers of computer-mediated translation; helping solve crimes
through forensic linguistics, etc., etc.
Don't know if anyone would want to hear a long list, but, since a lot
of people don't know what linguistics is or what it's good for, it
could be informative.
Dr. Johanna Rubba, Ph. D. "Justice is what love looks like
Professor, Linguistics in public." Cornel West
Linguistics Minor Advisor
Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Ofc. tel. : 805-756-2184
Dept. tel.: 805-756-2596
Dept. fax: 805-756-6374
E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu
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