What is linguistics? What is it good for?

Rong Chen rchen at csusb.edu
Fri Sep 9 15:18:39 UTC 2011

Hi all,

Dovetailing Tahir's post: Linguistics is also a window into the human mind. 

Human beings have a natural urge to learn about things. Among the things we
want to know  (about)--which is practically everything--are things about
ourselves. Among the things about ourselves is the way our mind works. One
might even argue that the mind is the most important aspect about us.

Many disciplines study the mind, approaching it from a multitude of
perspectives. Linguistics is one of them. By studying language, it offers
insights about how the mind works that no other disciplines is capable of

Sorry if this point has been made. 


Rong Chen


-----Original Message-----
From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu
[mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of Tahir Wood
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 12:16 AM
To: FUNKNET at listserv.rice.edu
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] What is linguistics? What is it good for?


I think there should be a purely humane concern underlying linguistics, in
addition to the more pragmatic concerns that have been mentioned.  The
humanities, I think, pose such questions as:
What do we have in common?
Where do we differ?
Why do we differ?

It seems to me that the human awareness of self is an end in itself, and
linguistics is and should be part of this vast enterprise (enterprise in the
sense of adventure). It is not just about adding value in the marketplace.


>>> "s.t. bischoff" <bischoff.st at gmail.com> 9/8/2011 6:04 pm >>>
Hi all,

I've been asked by my Dean to give a talk which he has titled "What is
linguistics? What is it good for?". This talk will be given to a general
audience of faculty, students, and administrators.  I have several ideas how
to approach this, but I wanted to ask folks how they might go about
answering the two questions in the title in such a situation.


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