Wednesday, 20 August 2008

the use of linguistics

Finally, we may ask, of what use is linguistics? Very few people have clear ideas on the subject, and this is not the place to give a detailed answer. However, what can be said is that for obvious reasons linguistic questions are of interest to all those, including historians, philologist and others, who need to deal with texts. Even more obvious is the important of linguistics for culture in general. In the lives of individuals and of societies, language is a factor of greater importance than any other. For the study of language to remain solely the business of a handful of specialists would be a quite unacceptable state of affairs. In practice, the study of language is in some degree or other the concern of everyone. But a paradoxical consequence of this general interest is that no other subject has fostered more absurd notions, more prejudices, more illusions, or more fantasies. Form a psychological point of view, these errors are of interest in themselves. But it is the primary task of the linguist to denounce them, and to eradicate them as completely as possible. - Ferdinand de Saussure, Course de linguistique générale

3 comments :

WordzGuy said...

>it is the primary task of the
>linguist to denounce them,
>and to eradicate them as
>completely as possible

So, um, how's progress on this front going, then? :-)

goofy said...

Perhaps foolishly, I live in hope.

Glen Gordon said...

I'm more practical on that: Everyone, save yourselves! I just accept that the world in general is mad and proceed from there.