The central trait of any credentialed linguist is perhaps the unshakeable belief that oneself and one’s intellectual cronies are thick in the pursuit of language, while other schools or factions are merely doing linguistics.
In the training of our graduate students, who have already chosen to walk the path of jaded academic one-
Issues arise, though, when we seek to initiate undergraduate students
What, then, is the linguist to do?
The coward’s approach, of course, is the traditional one: entrust the undergraduates wholly into the care of the grad students. This outsourcing ensures that no faculty member is ever privy to the specific words that undergraduates hear. For all we know, the pliable youths are learning an entirely fairhanded, broadminded perspective even on the villains who abuse reason with their noxious theories. Surely our BA graduates have been tutored in balanced civic attitudes.
This had better be the case, come to think of it, since most of our own BA graduates enroll at other institutions for their advanced studies. It’s really no good attending conferences with faculty who might have been offended by one of the prodigies we have launched forth.
Perhaps, on second thought, the graduate students are a bit immature to take on the responsibility for raising up the next generation. And in any case, funding is rather tight. But what to do?
We could make the decision that our department will henceforth teach only graduate students. Ah, the relaxation that would bring. And yet, the nagging doubt
Perhaps we could change ourselves and adopt a more charitable attitude towards the unenlightened themselves? Never! Truth is truth, and they do not have it. (Come to think of it, they are really quite willful in their dogged folly.)
Our conundrum, as outlined so far, is not much different from that of other academics in other departments who are also aware of their superiority over their intellectual and theoretical inferiors. While we have for now sidestepped the related concern of “insulting”
One reason that linguistics is in fact superior to other disciplines is that we study the very medium of cognition: words shape, reflect, and direct thought. As a cobbler should not want for shoes, a peruker for a wig, nor a slater for a roof overhead, a linguist should not want for keenly crafted words.
Sources of inspiration for a polysemously taunting yet plausibly deniable socially-
Of course, jargon that is in its literal sense already beyond the ken of undergraduates is a playground for metaphorical extension; philology, while a valuable field of study in its day, is now hopelessly outmoded; asterisks mark ungrammaticality in syntax and reconstruction in historical linguistics, thus, a “star” signifies that something is incorrect, a fabrication, or both; absolutive indicates an agent that seems less active than a proper subject should be
A: Jones’s theories are quite interesting, and offer a nice take on old data. He’s destined to become a philological star.
While it is easy to craft more examples, we need not do so
Now, go forth and speak truth, however obscurely!