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kdnxdr
05-06-2007, 06:01 PM
I, myself, have no formal, academic knowledge. When I was younger, I found that I loved to think about language. I've read a little regarding philosophy and logic. I've read a little regarding language and cognition. But, I really know only that I am fascinated with the subject.

I've heard that many successful people or people who are very concentrated on a study/vocation, knew very young what they wanted to persue. With that thought in mind, I ask, what prompted you, when and what routes did you take to develop your interest/vocation relative to liguistics?

louiscypher
05-06-2007, 06:24 PM
What makes a linguist tick?
There's a smarty pants answer to this ju-know: tourettes or a lisp (no offence meant)!

Anywhooo... it can't be for money, that's for sure, as sanitation engineers make way more here in OZ than they ever do or are likely to ... unless the publish, rather than public, something - that is?

J

Must be something RICH or BIGOT'D amongst all them public paper matters - eh?

Higgins
05-06-2007, 06:35 PM
I, myself, have no formal, academic knowledge. When I was younger, I found that I loved to think about language. I've read a little regarding philosophy and logic. I've read a little regarding language and cognition. But, I really know only that I am fascinated with the subject.

I've heard that many successful people or people who are very concentrated on a study/vocation, knew very young what they wanted to persue. With that thought in mind, I ask, what prompted you, when and what routes did you take to develop your interest/vocation relative to liguistics?


What makes a linguist tick?
There's a smarty pants answer to this ju-know: tourettes or a lisp (no offence meant)!

Anywhooo... it can't be for money, that's for sure, as sanitation engineers make way more here in OZ than they ever do or are likely to ... unless the publish, rather than public, something - that is?

J

Must be something RICH or BIGOT'D amongst all them public paper matters - eh?

Aha! Another non-answer! Perhaps mine will be even less enlightening, for I have always been a person who doubts the efficacy and coherence of language. Indeed the very idea of language makes me feel disoriented and disgusted.
Or...well...I'm the opposite of a linguist...I view language with fascinated horror...like an eagle looking at a snake that has just eaten a big rat...all that orality...all that oral incorporation and dis-corporation. As I grew up people told me that language has some impact on "how we view the world"....I think there is no statement that one can make that is more misleading and it pretty much shows why anything that can be stated clearly and exactly and precisely in language is either trivial or misleading. In my view, one only knows about the world by encountering it, everything else is just talk.
BUT...since everybody is completely convinced that language is the best thing since sliced bread, I've had to look into it and see if there is really anything there of a properly intense and worldly nature. Certainly language over time is worthwhile topic since it offers some information about how human groups went here and there. Certainly language in genre is very cool...nothing beats an epic myth or a great personal story.
But language just as language makes me ill.

louiscypher
05-06-2007, 06:41 PM
GAWD BLIMEY... and here I've been writing poetry profusely for a few years hoping that no-one would eventually understand me!

So you've read Merleau Ponty - eh ... bravo!

J meant as a compiment btw ... language has nothing to do with mind as it's got its own three bags full!

Higgins
05-06-2007, 08:10 PM
GAWD BLIMEY... and here I've been writing poetry profusely for a few years hoping that no-one would eventually understand me!

So you've read Merleau Ponty - eh ... bravo!

J meant as a compiment btw ... language has nothing to do with mind as it's got its own three bags full!

Sure, Merleau-Ponty...any phenomenology raises many doubts about whether language does all that people like to think that it does in their heads. And Derrida's very early reading of Husserl only does a phenomenological take on phenomenology....which suggests:

a) doubts raised by phenomenological approaches can be verified by parallel means

b) Freudio-Lacanian views of language as victimizing a person's relation to the world have a certain twisted ring of similar parallel authenticity...

Medievalist
05-06-2007, 10:46 PM
With that thought in mind, I ask, what prompted you, when and what routes did you take to develop your interest/vocation relative to liguistics?

I'm not a linguist, various people's assertion to the contrary. If pushed to it, I'll acknowledge that I'm a philologist (http://www.bartleby.com/61/74/P0247400.html).

We need Shweta in here to answer; she's a linguist.

For my part, I loved words and language and sound very early in childhood, and that love hasn't left.

I know that the sound and beauty of Middle English was a large part of the reason I changed from a music history as an undergrad major late in my junior year.

There are, as I expect you know, various kinds of linguistics, including applied linguistics and psycho-linguistics and theoretical linguistics and historical linguistics which is almost the same as philology.

I'm interested in the descriptive aspects of linguistics and the psychological aspects; I'm interested in the ways languages work and the ways people use language. I'm drawn to language in the same way artists are drawn to art, and musicians to music.

Shwebb
05-06-2007, 11:04 PM
What makes a linguist tick?

Swallowing a clock would probably do it. :Shrug:It might even make one talk.

louiscypher
05-06-2007, 11:44 PM
SOKAL ... I pinned your Philosophy study off the bat ... SOKAL BANDIT ... A clever sociopathic ploy/ Hoax that one! But as parallel, it would be cut to ribbons for its regime language, Morganistic tween/twain and dynastic plenipotentary device by the very same means and tools!

So you want Ponty-flesh, my friend - eh? Well here's my reason to the authors question: To seek perfect words...of which I found three btw!
Yup, I adore dialectic!

'NO, and THING'

Why?
Well, No is irrefutable and a thing needs no identity either - other than what it means to itself or same. Yet when combined they become the centre of everything between!

J

Higgins
05-07-2007, 01:44 AM
SOKAL ... I pinned your Philosophy study off the bat ... SOKAL BANDIT ... A clever sociopathic ploy/ Hoax that one! But as parallel, it would be cut to ribbons for its regime language, Morganistic tween/twain and dynastic plenipotentary device by the very same means and tools!

So you want Ponty-flesh, my friend - eh? Well here's my reason to the authors question: To seek perfect words...of which I found three btw!
Yup, I adore dialectic!

'NO, and THING'

Why?
Well, No is irrefutable and a thing needs no identity either - other than what it means to itself or same. Yet when combined they become the centre of everything between!

J

I believe I disagree, but that is because you are ducking a lot of irrational stuff...or maybe it's me.

There's a lot more to be said about nothing and that's all I have to say for now.

louiscypher
05-07-2007, 04:40 AM
Irrational?
Got it covered, my friend!

The resolution there would be to define a thing by what it's NO/T part of, rather than by the whims of what it might or hopefully be to the individual!

And I am referring to the ageless debates over Gods, E.Ts, Person-ness, Consciousness, and Happiness here ... amongst others!

J

only light can speak to light

Higgins
05-07-2007, 05:16 AM
Irrational?
Got it covered, my friend!

The resolution there would be to define a thing by what it's NO/T part of, rather than by the whims of what it might or hopefully be to the individual!

And I am referring to the ageless debates over Gods, E.Ts, Person-ness, Consciousness, and Happiness here ... amongst others!

J

only light can speak to light

Light speaks by modulating against a conventionalized background of the absence of light.

Think of a huge and complex shape -- its shadows are always moving differentially with respect to time, the motions of light, the motions of the thing itself. This thing -- more or less unimaginable -- is well out of the confinement of Plato's cave. Any number of lights can move in any number of ways. You could say you could define this thing (and yet it is by allegorical osmosis many things)...say what it is not and somehow extract persons, consciousness and happiness from its gigantic, ever-moving shadow, but it is impossible. It overshadows everything and it is merely the merest hint of reality. That thing is the simplest form of nothingness, just the little edge that separates one word from the next, one moment of the world from the next.

louiscypher
05-07-2007, 10:05 AM
Hmmm - me thinks you confuse the absence of light (nil) for the lack of light (some but unseen), my friend! The same way persons confuse black of lacking colour when it actually absorbs - rather than reflects - the others! But then this too is based on human acuity which resonates rather than operates only between 400 to 800 nanometers in the theoretical spectrum! And I did say theoretical!

Plato's theory of forms, quantum'ly speaking, enforces rather than refutes me! That and the fact that the cat in box has been solved by photons which display intelligent traits! But then I loath Plato and would explode my brain to refute his lecherous waffle the same way Ponty did and did!

J

Aristotle Rocks whereas Plato was a murdering thief!

Higgins
05-07-2007, 05:29 PM
Plato's theory of forms, quantum'ly speaking, enforces rather than refutes me! That and the fact that the cat in box has been solved by photons which display intelligent traits! But then I loath Plato and would explode my brain to refute his lecherous waffle the same way Ponty did and did!


Lecherous waffle? You mean Socrates? And everyone claimed he was
quite a guy. Ugly, brave, polite. What more can you ask of a philosopher?

Cat-in-Box: You don't need intelligent photons, you just need to remember that "observed" out there in the Cosmos just means "interacting" and since everything interacts in timely fashion with the vacuum (there's the perfect nothing that is something in the background for you) then everything is more or less continually interacting and you can avoid the infinite progression of infinite observers observing each interaction that constitutes an observer and his observation.

I don't remember a thing about Merleau-Ponty except that he was a sort of Phenomenologist. Can you enlighten me?

louiscypher
05-08-2007, 05:32 PM
Socrates has brains, so no - never would I degrade such an honour bound man!
Plato on the other hand, use to murder his brightest students for discovering his pet geometry had a big flaw ... infinitely recurring numbers - like the square root of two. He was a wanker...full stop: that's Greek for tossed Cesar salad btw *smile*.

Ponty, where do I start ... other than to say he rejected the tactile totally. Called it FLESH actually, but never explained why: other than to say 'If I see it, it beholds me back'... I'm a part of the world and it's a part of me!

Vacuum: that's what humans do to a dirty carpet... and the only place they exist. The Void's what you seek ... the border between my flesh envelope in this world and all others and things'.... that's why he rejected the tactile ... it's meaningless!

Anyway, we are getting off the subject, my friend! But not really as this example of US (you and I) here is what ticks every IST ... simply to know more about their passion! Ism's on the other hand, think they know it all and should be a'voided ...again!
Hang on, perfect vacuums do exist lol

J

Higgins
05-08-2007, 05:58 PM
Socrates has brains, so no - never would I degrade such an honour bound man!
Plato on the other hand, use to murder his brightest students for discovering his pet geometry had a big flaw ... infinitely recurring numbers - like the square root of two. He was a wanker...full stop: that's Greek for tossed Cesar salad btw *smile*.

J


You mean irrational numbers? They are geometrically clear, but arithmetically infinite?

talkwrite
06-07-2007, 03:53 AM
I too have been more in tune and drawn to language since childhood including writing poetry in elementary school. I then chose a profession to be in a constant linguistic environment. I am fascinated with how people express themselves and want to know why. Now I scare myself because I can't stop making constant linguistic analysis of even political candidates speeches and news anchors reports. It may be an addiction...

[quote=Medievalist;1315566]There are, as I expect you know, various kinds of linguistics, including applied linguistics and psycho-linguistics and theoretical linguistics and historical linguistics which is almost the same as philology.
And don't forget Forensic Linguistics. Yes they measure communication modes to identify the author or culprit etc. I have testified to communication modes as a defense in two cases.

ColoradoGuy
06-07-2007, 06:23 AM
I'm fascinated by the notion of forensic linguistics -- can you tell us more how that works? How precise a thing is it?

talkwrite
06-08-2007, 06:30 PM
I work with foreign language linguistics. As the term forensic indicates I am called when there is evidence being presented in a foreign language or the defendant does not speak English and the evidence involves communications with him/her. As an expert witness, I work with evidence presented. I usually get called by either party to prove up or debunk a translation or an interpretation provided- or lack thereof - many companies sign waivers of liability written in English for their non English speaking employees without their knowledge. But the more fascinating assignment is to prove or debunk whether or not the person accused of making the statement ( written or spoken format) actually did. Then I use linguistic elements of second language acquisition or cultural usage components. I have to back up my elements with texts as any other expert does. I taught graduate classes in second language acquisition at U of Houston here. I also work with forensic psychiatrists and we work in very similar modes. How precise? Some of it is so obvious I am stunned the case gets filed.

ColoradoGuy
06-08-2007, 07:37 PM
How precise? Some of it is so obvious I am stunned the case gets filed.
Perhaps they think no one will notice. Thanks for the information.

cooltouch
06-16-2007, 01:51 AM
Cool, a thread on linguistics! To answer kdnxdr's question, I sort of backed into linguistics as a field of study. I chose it as a means to an end. The fact that I'd always done well in English classes, and that I had some experience with foreign languages (German and Japanese), and that I enjoyed both reading and writing was an additional motivator for me. But what got me started was, I was interested in going to law school. However, after two decades of taking all sorts of college classes, I still hadn't completed my degree. So, after looking through the college catalog and counting credit hours/units, I realized that an Lx major would net me a BA faster than any other specialty.

So that's what got me started. By the second semester, though, I was hooked. I found I loved it. All thoughts of law school long since forgotten, as soon as I graduated, I enrolled into the Masters program and graduated with a Masters in Lx from Cal State Fullerton in 2002.

*sigh* Not a whole lot one can do with a Masters in Lx, though, except teach Humanities at a Jr. College. Nothing wrong with that, but I sure wish now I would have transferred to a PhD-granting institution and stuck it out the rest of the way. Problem was, though, there were not many schools offering instruction in my specific area of interest (biological origins of language and language evolution) from a Lx perspective. Still aren't, to my knowledge.

Still, I'm glad I chose Linguistics. In fact, the theme of the novel I'm working on right now is based on a twist/take-off of language acquisition in children. I would have never thought of it if it hadn't been for the research I'd done.

Talkwrite, I took a peek at your CV. Impressive. Any chance I could bounce some thoughts off you on occasion? As coincidence has it, we even live in the same town. I'm over in the Spring Branch area.

Best,

Michael

talkwrite
06-17-2007, 04:51 AM
Welcome Cool touch. There was and may still be a group that meets to talk linguistics out of the, ( what else) Linguistics dept. at Rice Univ. They let me sit in. My eyes glazed over. They spoke about coding components of phrases. Not my glass of champagne....
That's a great idea to include SLA in your book. Have you or your agent queried it to a publisher yet? I'd be interested in their response.
Talkwrite.

cooltouch
06-17-2007, 08:12 AM
Talkwrite,

No, no queries in the works yet. I've still got a ways to go before I want to think about sending out queries. I'm still struggling over plot elements. Once I get those issues hammered out to my satisfaction, I might think of that.

Yeah, Rice Lx. Actually, I applied to their program, but the prof I would have been most interested in as a grad adviser retired and the fellow they have running the dept now is, excuse the blunt language, an elitist prick. Rice and me -- we don't see eye-to-eye. Too bad. Honestly, the way I see it, it's their loss, not mine. I know, that sounds elitist too, but believe me when I tell you, those folks there are way too inbred in their research, and they need some outside stimuli to shake 'em up some.

Best,

Michael

eliflauta
06-17-2007, 08:24 AM
Well, I'm not a "linguist" because I'm still in high school, but I feel very strongly that I want to study linguistics and languages in college and maybe (hopefully?) get a job involving linguistics. Different languages fascinate me, especially because they really do change your view on something. For instance, a simple example is that in Spanish, instead of saying "I forgot my books", you say a phrase that translates roughly as "My books lost themselves to me". A native Spanish speaker (supposedly) has the mindset that it's not their fault for forgetting the books, but rather it was a complete accident and if it was anyone's fault, it was definitely those darn books. When you think about it, you shouldn't blame yourself, yet the way English is set up it puts the blame on the subject, because it's the subject doing the action of forgetting. This kind of stuff is what I spend my spare moments learning about. I think linguistics is an acquired taste like every interest, although I do enjoy flattering myself by believing it to be a more esoteric subject than most interests.

ColoradoGuy
06-17-2007, 09:27 PM
You've put your finger on one of those fascinatingly perennial linguistic debates -- the extent to which the words used control the thought they express. Medievalist laid out the notion here. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=978535&postcount=638)

cooltouch
06-17-2007, 11:20 PM
For instance, a simple example is that in Spanish, instead of saying "I forgot my books", you say a phrase that translates roughly as "My books lost themselves to me". A native Spanish speaker (supposedly) has the mindset that it's not their fault for forgetting the books, but rather it was a complete accident and if it was anyone's fault, it was definitely those darn books.

There is a basic principle in linguistics that a native speaker of any language has the resources within that language to explain oneself fully and clearly. This, however, does not mean that the native speaker will always choose to do so. The phenomenon you describe above is not unique to Spanish. In Japanese, for example, if one's car stops working, one can say the equivalent of 'My car broke down' (not my fault) as opposed to 'I broke my car'. And of course, 'My car broke down' (watashi no kurumu ga kowarata) appears to be the more popular way to express this condition, according to native speakers with whom I've discussed this, since blame is avoided. But it is not the only way to describe what happened.

In Japanese, the trick to avoiding the blame is to select an intransitive verb. That way the car becomes the subject and there is no object. Neat, huh? And we do the exact same thing in English when we say "My car broke down." True, "broke" is transitive, but it can also be used intransitively, especially when linked with "down."

So, while trying not to cast aspersions at what this says about native speakers of Spanish, I'll wager there is a clear way to say, "I forgot (something)" in that language. I don't speak Spanish, so I can't say for sure, but knowing what I do about languages in general, I feel pretty confident about this.

I collect dictionaries, and happen to have a couple of Spanish/English ones. For 'forget', I note the verbs perder and olvidar. However, perder also has the meaning to 'lose (something)' which is possibly where the semantic blending originates from. It can be risky to speculate, not being fluent in Spanish, but it seems to me that if one wanted to own up to one's own forgetfulness (olvido, by the way), one would use olvidar instead of perder.

Best,

Michael

ColoradoGuy
06-18-2007, 12:24 AM
There is a basic principle in linguistics that a native speaker of any language has the resources within that language to explain oneself fully and clearly.
What about those Amazonian languages like Piraha (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1278847&highlight=Amazon#post1278847[URL=), which is severely limited in its ability to modify or quantify things? Are you saying they just never have the need or desire to speak what at least we would call clearly, so their language lacks that capacity?

Medievalist
06-18-2007, 12:47 AM
I collect dictionaries, and happen to have a couple of Spanish/English ones. For 'forget', I note the verbs perder and olvidar. However, perder also has the meaning to 'lose (something)' which is possibly where the semantic blending originates from. It can be risky to speculate, not being fluent in Spanish, but it seems to me that if one wanted to own up to one's own forgetfulness (olvido, by the way), one would use olvidar instead of perder.

Olividar is the Spanish equivalent of English oblivion; both are Latin derived and part of the I.E. *lei complex (http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE270.html) -- and I suspect it's not something one would use in Mexico, or Guatamala; even in Spain it's markedly archaic and formal and suggests something more like abandoned.

There very much is the phenomenon where multilingual speakers can identify phrases and words with complex connotations in one language that they can't precisely express in another with the same economy, precision and emotional weight.

cooltouch
06-18-2007, 08:26 AM
What about those Amazonian languages like Piraha (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1278847&highlight=Amazon#post1278847%5BURL=), which is severely limited in its ability to modify or quantify things? Are you saying they just never have the need or desire to speak what at least we would call clearly, so their language lacks that capacity?

It's been several years since I've been involved in discussions on this issue, but the basic short answer to your question is "yes."

It is essential to consider the native speaker's milieu. If they exist in an environment where there seldom if ever arises the need for addressing these elements, then it shouldn't be surprising that their vocabulary may be lacking in these same elements. The Piraha likely have no word for "snow," either. If they never encounter it, why should they have a word for it? Regarding their counting system (one, two, many), this is not unique to the Piraha, and is actually found in a number of cultures where, apparently, it is not important to the native speakers to entertain higher values than this.

Other cultures have very few color words. There's been quite a bit of linguistic research done regarding this, mostly to see if vocabulary is indicative of social complexity. There is some evidence to indicate this. Here's an interesting article on the subject. Scroll to the part on the Tarahumara.

http://books.google.com/books?id=l29KAWqdmzEC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=tarahumara+colors+vocabulary&source=web&ots=0YXUGTDNc8&sig=62p24LF75m7ima8in2BsQu15b8I#PPA118,M1

Best,

Michael

cooltouch
06-18-2007, 08:31 AM
Olividar is the Spanish equivalent of English oblivion; both are Latin derived and part of the I.E. *lei complex (http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE270.html) -- and I suspect it's not something one would use in Mexico, or Guatamala; even in Spain it's markedly archaic and formal and suggests something more like abandoned.

Please look closely at the verb I used in my example. It is olvidar, not olividar. Neither of the dictionaries I used, which are fairly current, suggested that 'olvidar' is archaic.

Best,

Michael

kdnxdr
07-27-2007, 07:26 PM
In response to my original question, I was hoping for more anecdotal replies.

It's fascinating to read your posts and I'm hoping some respondents will answer from a more personal experience.