15 feb. 2011

Linguistics

I had a graduate student once, in a course on literary theory. In the course I had been explaining some basic background relating to Saussure and structuralism. We covered some Chomsky in this course: his idea of universal grammar. I am not a linguist, but I thought it would be useful to explore some of this background to see where some key concepts of modern literary theory came from. We explored the idea of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which most people are interested in debating. Almost everyone has an opinion about whether language influences the thoughts we have, or not. This was just basic material I thought every educated literary critic ought to know about. So this student in my office one day says "i hate linguistics." Nothing in the course had been of interest to him so far.

Thanks a lot. It really helped me to know that you were an idiot right from the beginning. Why would you think your emotions about linguistics were interesting to me? Your dislike for the discipline is a fact about you, not a fact about linguistics. It shows you are lacking in intellectual curiosity, for one thing. Some things are going to be more interesting to you than others, but I don't really care. Please keep it to yourself because nobody else is going to really going to take your opinion seriously.

You complained that nobody else cared about the one issue of importance to you. But when you wrote about this issue, you turned in a piece of crap to me. So I guess you didn't care either.

2 comentarios:

Clarissa dijo...

How annoying is that?? I asked my students last week which texts they liked and didn't like in the Survey course and why. Everybody offered their opinions, we had a nice discussion going about the reasons why some people like certain texts and dislike others. Then, one student announced loudly and in a very proud tone: "I hate all of them!!" "How so?" I asked hoping that the person would at least be smart enough to say he doesn't relate well to Medieval literature. "Oh, I just hate reading!" he said.

Do such people think they are making a good impression or something?

Elisa Gabbert dijo...

How can you be interested in literary theory and hate linguistics? Linguistics is a very broad field. There's clear overlap.

Definitely the words of an idiot.