I Am a Linguist and No, I Don’t Obsess Over “Correct” Grammar
3 facts you didn’t know about linguistics. Told in comics.
As a linguist, I often get asked what linguists do. I also came across many misconceptions about linguistics. From “speaking a lot of languages” to “being very good at grammar”, I usually have to explain why none of these apply to me. So here it is! Below I debunk a few myths and I support these explanations with my Lego comics.
One thing to note though is that the word “linguist” is used in a somewhat different way in industry, or non-academic fields, where it can refer to almost anything: from translators to copy editors and language teachers…But here I am talking about linguistics as an academic field, as in what you would study in a linguistics course at the university.
1. No, you don’t need to speak a lot of languages to be a linguist.
A question I get most often from non-linguists is how many languages I speak. I happen to be fluent in three and a half languages (German is still lagging behind the first three…), but the reason for this is just because I live in Europe and English is not my native language. It is basically a necessity in Europe, especially if you move around a lot. It is not because I am a linguist.
I am actually painfully slow at learning languages. Maybe it has something to do with being an introvert, I don’t know. But linguistics certainly doesn’t improve your chances of learning languages faster. As a linguist, you spend a lot of time learning about different types of grammars languages can have, and what causes differences between languages. This can help you understand new grammatical structures faster, but it will certainly not help you memorize them.
Over the years, I became convinced that the issue of memorizing genders and cases and all these grammatical elements has something to do with your natural memory. I know people who can learn a case system and use it correctly in a sentence immediately. I guess this is something for neuroscience to uncover.
My message is: Be a linguist if you like a mystery! We are always uncovering new patterns in what most people consider “random stuff you say”. Well…