|SignWriting List Forum|
DEAF USA |
Date: Thu May 14, 1998 11:08 pm
Subject: Re: linguists
In a message dated 98-05-14 18:49:22 EDT, you write:
> I feel maligned;
> On Thursday, May 14th, James Womack wrote;
> Oh, we have it, but sort of unofficially. It is usually confined to the
> and higher education centers. It's that way because even they know that
> trying to impose this on the masses is a waste of time.
> This is in regard to what is known as prescriptivism: the promotion of one
> variety of language as "correct." A basic tenet of linguistics is that
> there is no such thing as correct or incorrect language, only different.
> No linguist would say otherwise. The task of
> linguistics is to desribe language as it exists, not as some people think
> it should be. For example, they were the people who defined ASL as a
> true language in the first place; without them people would still negate
> it as "poor English," or "no Language," and so on.
> :-) Remember, "linguists are our friends." :-)
I'll second that, sorry I didn't jump right in and correct that mistake. The
people who tend to "prescribe" language are known as "grammarians." No
linguist worth their degree would ever want to be known as such, the
philosophy of each side is totally different.
A linguist is more of a scientist and has many tools to measure how language
is used, when and where it changed, and will often do field work in much the
same way as an anthropologist, whereas a grammarian is more of a
traditionalist and relies on past experience to tell people what is right and
what is wrong.
Grammarians are not interested in documenting language change, they want it to
stay a certain way...the way *they* say it should be.
There is room for both grammarians and linguists because if language changed
too fast, there would not be time for everyone to learn the new things before
yet another change came along, and yet language that does not change cannot be
considered "alive" anymore -- it will usually die off because it has stopped
being relevant to modern life. (Definition of modern being any point of time
in the present.)
Hope there aren't any more linguists out there who feel maligned. (-:
Therese Shellabarger, Dir. of Communications
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