Frislander wrote: ↑
Wed 15 Nov 2017, 18:13
DesEsseintes wrote: ↑
Wed 15 Nov 2017, 17:37
gestaltist wrote: ↑
Wed 15 Nov 2017, 17:34
It makes me irrationally angry that this word exists. It's "linguists" dammit!
Seriously, the only reason this word is a "thing" is because laypeople don't know the word "polyglot" exists. I'm not normall one for prescriptivism but misuse of linguistic terminology really infuriates me!
I don't think the usage/meaning of the word "linguist" (and "linguistics", etc) is really the best prescriptivist hill to die on. The OED indicates that the word was first used with the sense "A person who is skilled in the learning or use of foreign languages." It only later came to refer to a scientist who studies language (and it competed for a while with "philologist"; see the discussion in the comments on this Language Hat post
). In the present day, some generativists seem to be trying to restrict the use of "linguists" to refer even more specifically to people who study the faculty of language, rather than people who study languages (for whom a neologism has been coined, "languists": I find it kind of an ugly and unnecessary word): see the following quote from the start of Norbert Hornstein's blog post "The future of (my kind of) linguistics
" at the generativist blog "Faculty of Language":
I have been pessimistic of late concerning the fate of linguistics. It’s not that I think it is in intellectual trouble (I actually cannot think of a more exciting period of linguistic research), but I do think that the kind of linguistics I signed up for as a youth is currently lightly prized, if at all. I have made no secret of this view. I even have a diagnosis. I believe that the Minimalist Program (MP) has forced to the surface a tension that was inchoate in the field since its inception 60 or so years ago. Sociologically, within the profession, this tension is becoming resolved in ways that disfavor my conception of the enterprise. You have no doubt guessed what the tension resides in: the languist-linguist divide. Languists and linguists are interested in different problems and objects of study. Languists mainly care about the subtle ways that languages differ. Linguists mainly care about the invariances and what these tell us about the overarching capacities that underlie linguistic facility. Languists are typologists. Linguists are cognitivists.
Note: "Languist" is supposedly not meant to be derogatory, per se
, but I find the linguist-languist distinction a bit irritating anyway.
Anyway, my point is that "linguist" is a multiply ambiguous word, so I don't see the point of getting worked up about when it should and shouldn't be used (and I hope some of this contextual information helps people to avoid having that reaction).
Side note: I don't really like the new icons on this site. A pencil for editing? Two circles for linking? They aren't completely unintuitive, but they weren't obvious to me at first glance either.