Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 6 02:08:41 UTC 2001

At 7:18 AM -0500 3/6/01, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>I don't know what they think, but "linguist" has at least five meanings:
>(1) linguistician; (2) polyglot; (3) master of language ["obsolete"]; (4)
>interpreter ["obsolete"]; (5) one who licks something [currently used only
>in compounds].
Sometimes "professional linguist" is used to single out sense (1),
although it always makes me think of "I'm not a professional
linguist, I just play one on TV", which so few of us get to do.  (1)
and (2) are clearly robust senses, and while the ambiguity is
unfortunate, it can usually be dispelled in the context.  Like Lynne,
I'd always use "polyglot" for sense (2), but as she notes, we have to
concede that non-linguist(1)s are not inclined to be so scrupulous.
Even AHD4, with all the linguist(1)s lobbying it, gives linguist(2)
as sense #1 and vice versa.  I like Doug's sense (3), but I just
consider that a subcategory of (1).  I've heard (4), e.g. in the
collocation "court linguist"; again, context disambiguates.  As for
the bound form in (5)--nice, but somewhat limited in distribution
based on the nature of the lickee.  "Chocolinguist"?
"Atel(al)inguist" (as in "I lick stamps occasionally, but I'm not a
professional atelalinguist")?  "Autolinguist" (to describe cats if
auto- is a prefix, car fetishists otherwise)?  Despite the existence
of one salient "-linguist" lexicalized compound of this type, I think
I'd tend to use "-lictor" or "-linctor" for these.


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