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From:  Peg Lewis
Date:  Thu May 14, 1998  11:24 pm
Subject:  Re: linguists


This is another linguist, not feeling seriously maligned but wanting to
second what has been said here! Linguists will point out the great and
wonderful patterns in language, but the only source of data is native
"speakers", not books or grammars or previously formulated sets of rules or
language classes!

Peg Lewis, ABD
University of Arizona Dept. of Linguistics
-----Original Message-----
From: DEAF USA
To: SignWriting List
Date: Thursday, May 14, 1998 4:10 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
>> linguists
>> 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. (-:
>
>Deaf USA
>
>Therese Shellabarger, Dir. of Communications
>7712 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywood, CA 91605 TTY: 818/764-4311
>Fax: 818/764-4066 ****** See us at http://www.deafexpo.org
>

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