Reasons Not to Study Linguistics—Part I
and Cynnie Sizzum
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 I of our series on reasons not to study linguistics—or don’t.
- Don’t do historical linguistics; it’s grim.
- Don’t study placeholder doohickeys.
- Don’t study sign languages; there’s too much hand waving.
- Breaking news: Linguists to Reject Study of Journalese.
- Don’t study avian communication; you’ll end up wasting too much time on twitter.
- Don’t study Chomsky; the benefits are minimal.
- Don’t study litotes; it’s not very good.
- Don’t read too much Sartre; it doesn’t really exist.
- Don’t study voice onset times; you’ll never attain your aspirations.
- The study of corporate jargon is detrimental to the paradigm of proactively unleashing vertical infomediaries and progressively envisioneering holistic e-markets.
- Don’t study dactyls; they’re really quite difficult. Didn’t you know that? I’m glad that I’ve told you it.
- Avoid studying and study avoiding chiasmus.
- Don’t study syllable structure; after a brief onset, you’re already reached the coda.
ELIZA: Do you say should you not study artificial intelligence for some special reason ?
- Don’t study idioms or the crap will hit the fan.
- Only type with four-letr word[s]; this isn’t some joke; pliz take this advc.
- Don’t study alien linguistics; it’ll invade your mind.
- Don’t study the empty category principle because there’s nothing there.
- Don’t read the Neogrammarians (with rare exceptions).
- There exists a You, but it’s not the case that that You should study first order predicate logic.
- Don’t play with Wittgenstein.
- All quantifier ambiguities should not be studied.
Don’t study haiku;
It’s such a nuisance to count
- Don’t study traces; they’re hard to detect.
- Don’t do sociolinguistics; like, you can’t even.
- It is cleft constructions that you shouldn’t be studying.
- Don’t study sarcasm; but I bet you’d be reeaally good at it if you did, ha ha ha.
- You shouldn’t study oxymoron because you should study it.
- Don’t do prosody; too much stress.
- Don’t study child language; it’ll make you cry.
- Don’t study Escher sentences; more people have failed at it than you have.
- Don’t study undeciphered writing systems because qokedy qokedy dal qokedy qokedy.
- Don’t study localized sociolects or you’ll get into slanging matches.
- Don’t do philology: there’s no new data.
- Don’t read too much Shakespeare; forsooth and verily, b’gad, sir, twill thumb its nose at you.
- Never be about to study the immediate future tense.
- Don’t study ciphers because vg’f abg jbegu lbhe gvzr.
- Don’t do psycholinguistics; it overtaxes your working memory.
- Don’t look at bee communication; it’ll lead you a merry dance.
- Don’t study hyperbole; it’ll literally blow a hole in your head.
- Don’t study dialectology cuz; it’s, like, some well tricky shit, bruv.
- If someone suggests you should study zeugma, leave in a cab and a hurry.
- Don’t read too much genre linguistics; there’s just many different types.
- Don’t study animal group names; there are swarms, herds, and exaltations of them.
- Don’t study classroom interaction or I’ll give you 100 lines.
- I hope you don’t study Esperanto.
- Keep studying pre-modified predicate adjective phrases in lists of threes; they are...
- really cool,
- deeply interesting, and
- highly significant.
More to come...