Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ask a Linguistic

Friday post is on a Saturday today. Friday has become cake day in our office, which can hamper productivity levels for things like working and blogging...

Recently, an email went around the department from a television producer looking for someone with a TV friendly personality and a savvy knowledge of linguistics to be a regular guest on a show that's in the pipeline. They had put the call out for a "Linguistic".

Now, people who are practitioners of linguistics call themselves linguists, I don't know anyone who would refer to themselves as a linguistic.

English has a full and rich collection of derivational morphology - that's the collection of affixes you can stick on words that makes them change a little in their function, and normally changes their word class (inflectional morphology makes tenses and plurals and what-not). So someone who teaches is a 'teach-er', someone who dances is a 'danc-er'. But English is very god at not been consistent across the board with this, a butcher doesn't butch, someone who judges isn't a judger, and philosopher doesn't really philosoph.

Calling someone who works on linguistic things a linguistic is following one expected pattern - you have people that can be a medic, psychic and diabetic. They're strange because -ic things normally act as adjectives, but they can occasionally be nouns. Still, I think it'll be a while before I start referring to myself as a linguistic on my resume...

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