“A linguist is a person who speaks a lot of languages.”
But that’s what you hear from the general (uninformed) public. People are willing — many even eager — to become informed, but they’ve never heard of linguistics as a scientific discipline, so they don’t even know what they don’t know. The “All Things Linguistic” blog arrives to fill the gap. I recommend two different posts:
- The title of the first post, “How to explain linguistics to your friends and family this holiday season,” suggests that its audience consists of linguists. That’s true, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t read it yourself even though you aren’t a linguist. The post contains eight questions commonly asked by laypersons — I’ve heard all of them (yes, three aren’t actually questions, but that’s OK) — along with quite a few links that provide answers and suggested responses. Here are the eight questions; check out the links yourself to see what the answers and responses are:
- What is linguistics exactly?
- So, you’re a linguist? How many languages do you know?
- Wow, linguistics, I guess I’d better watch my grammar around you, right?
- That’s not even in the dictionary! So many people are degrading language these days!
- Don’t you just hate it when people say…?
- ____ isn’t a real language!
- A linguistics degree? What are you going to do with that?
- Tell me something interesting about linguistics!
- The audience for the second post — “Masterlist of pop linguistics books and lingfic” — may be a little less clear. The post contains an extremely thorough list of both categories mentioned in its title: pop linguistics books (i.e., scientifically valid popularizations for the general public) and…well…what on earth is lingfic, you ask? Fortunately, the author of the post defines it for us:
Fiction that contains a significant linguistic element, enjoyable for both practising linguists and language enthusiasts.
So, skim through the posts, carefully read the paragraphs at the end of the second post, and enjoy becoming better informed about linguistics!