So says Robin J. Sowards in “Why Everyone Should Study Linguistics” (The Minnesota Review, Spring 2007); he’s specifically thinking of literary critics. And he’s absolutely right, of course; that’s the good news. The bad news is that he thinks structuralism “has been stone dead for nearly half a century in linguistics departments” (he means, of course, MIT) and “the kind of linguistics that [everyone should be studying] (and that is presently the dominant model in linguistics) is what is sometimes known as ‘theoretical linguistics’ or ‘generative linguistics.’” Sigh. Will no one rid us of this wretched albatross? Marxism and Freudianism are relics of the past century; Chomskyism needs to join them on the dustheap ASAP, so linguists can get back to what they do best, studying actual languages instead of their theoretical constructs. (Via Mark Liberman at the Log, who of course is not implicated in my rants against the Dark Lord of Linguistics.)
Unrelated: Anyone interested in my book should go read bulbul‘s essay on Slovak cursing, most of which, inevitably, got cut from the book. A small excerpt to whet your appetite:
Imagine you are a Slovak hockey fan watching your beloved national team score in an Ice Hockey World Cup semifinal, but the referee declares the goal invalid. In a situation like this, exclamations like Sviňa! or Kus vola! are simply insufficient to express one’s feelings for the idiot with the whistle. The only word that will do is Kokot! („dick, prick”). That is because unlike in Czech, the most and most frequent terms of abuse and insults employed in Slovak are derived from terminology associated with sexual organs and sexual behavior.
He broke his “regularly scheduled radio silence” to bring us the essay, and I for one am touched (and hope that the experience will remind him of how much fun blogging is and how much he wants to get back to it).