Reasons Not to Study Linguistics—Part IV
Compiled by Dyspepsia Prater and
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies
Linguists, generally, try to encourage others’ interest in their field with enticements such as, “linguistics helps us understand the human condition”; “every language provides a unique view of the mind”; “linguistics empowers people”; “you can work in translation, interpreting, foreign language teaching, the tech industry, fieldwork, etc.” Blah, blah, blah. You see, no matter how exciting a field seems, there’s someone out there who is sick and tired of putting up with it.
Rather than promise nothing but unicorns and rainbows, we’ve searched far and wide—in faculty lounges and grad library carrels, in cushy academic conferences and privative fieldwork conditions—to uncover the reasons people give for being fed up with their particular linguistic and linguistics-adjacent field.
So, enjoy Part IV of our series on reasons not to study linguistics—or don’t.
- Don’t study generative grammar; it’s full of green ideas that make people sleep furiously.
- Don’t write about logical connectors BUT do think about them AND read OR talk about them.
- Don’t study New Testament Greek or no-one will ever agape or phileo you again.
- Don’t study anacoluthon, because it is—just find something else.
- Don’t study Grice; it’s impolite.
- Don’t study relative clauses which are self-referential.
- Don’t study color terms; you’ll end up feeling grue.
- Don’t study non-pulmonic consonants; they just won’t click with you.
- Don’t read about the wug test; you won’t know whether to write one paper about it or two paper__.
- The study of S-structure syntactic analogues is easy/*eager to do.
- Don’t study D-structure; it’s too deep.
- Don’t study words that used to begin with [p]; everyone will know you’re an ex-plosives expert.
- Don’t study second language pragmalinguistics; you’ll never know quite what to say.
- Studying the garden path sentences you to boredom.
- Don’t study Finno-Ugric languages. You’ll never Finnish.
- Don’t not study double negatives.
- Smith & Jones (2019) suggest you shouldn’t study integral referencing.
- Make damn sure that y’all use nowt but CVC, not some syl. form more long.
- Don’t study the Jiahu symbols; they’re practically indecipherable.
- Juθt don’t θtudy liθpθ; theðe thingð are θyθtematically impoθible.
Don’t study dactyls,
Because they’re so tricky,
Mostly when double,
Strictly constrained and
Just write in free verse to
Make things a whole lot easier
- Don’t study/look into/think about/be a student of close synonymy.
- The passive voice should not be studied.
- Studying noun classes means playing with fire and dangerous things.
- Don’t study spoonerisms; you’ll hiss your mystery lectures and taste the whole worm.
- If you do computational linguistics, you’ll always want to p from drinking too much t.
- Don’t study geological terms; your work will be taken for granite.
- Thou shalt not study biblical linguistics.
- You won’t study tag questions, will you?
- Don’t study Icelandic. It will be a þorn in your side.
- Sir, might I deign to suggest that you refrain from the study of bathos because, well, that’s what I heard. Yes.
- Don’t do syntax; it will command and dominate your life.
- Don’t study donkey sentences; every linguist who reads one dislikes it.
- The study of long words is worthy of floccinaucinihilipilification.
- Don’t do glottochronology; you’ll get bored with it at a predictable rate.
- Don’t study onomastics; it’s a science in name only.
- What kinds of wh- questions should you study, and with whom?
- Don’t do morphology; you’ll end up in pieces.
- One WEIRD reason to NEVER study clickbait!
- The study of redundant acronyms should be avoided like the HIV virus.
- If you study satirical linguistics for too long you will not be able to distinguish which items in this list are serious.