Caveat emptor

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Sep 17 11:31:09 UTC 2013

When I was a TA at Tel Aviv University in the mid-70's, the head of our 
department, R.B Lees, would actively discourage students from pursuing 
graduate studies in linguistics, though on somewhat different grounds: 
in his view, Chomsky had solved everything in his 1965 "Aspects of the 
Theory of Syntax" and there was nothing further to be done in the field.

So there are lots of reasons to discourage potential linguistics 
students, some more reasonable than others, but in my view they are all 
misguided. Sure, we should present our students with a realistic 
assessment of their career prospects, but we should also admit that we 
really have no idea what the field, or the job market, or the world 
economy, will look like in 10 or 20 years time. Plus, and I think this 
is the crucial point, as teachers it is our duty, our mission, to convey 
our love for our field to the coming generations — I simply can't 
imagine it any other way.

If we try and talk potential linguistic students out of pursuing a 
career in linguistics, well who knows what wonderful minds and wonderful 
future work we will be nipping in the bud.

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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