Alan King, linguist

Languages-spoken-in-SpainEver since the 16th century, linguist has meant “somebody who speaks several languages or finds it easy to learn languages” (Microsoft Encarta Reference Library), but since the term linguistics became current in the early 20th century as the name of a scientific discipline, the word has acquired a new meaning which has ousted the original one in many scholarly circles although not, I suspect, in ordinary usage, of “somebody who studies linguistics.”

linguistic_levelsLinguists of the second kind are quick to point out that this is what a linguist really is (though only because they say so, actually), and not what it used to mean and some people think it still does. So what academic linguists are saying is that linguists are not necessarily people who speak several languages or find it easy to learn languages. And that is the case, though one or two people like me find that ironic. Wouldn’t it make more sense if people who studied linguistics did speak lots of languages and were good language learners?

Aztec woman speakingI can claim to be a linguist on two counts. By the old definition I am one because I am good at languages. By the new definition I am also one, since I have a PhD in Linguistics. But in my heart of hearts, I am proud to be a real linguist because I love languages. Say what they will. I love talking about languages. I can “talk linguistics” if I feel like it or if it seems necessary, as I think I will occasionally demonstrate, but as a linguist I defend the right to talk about languages, and oddly, as any linguistics student will tell you, they are not the same thing — and I shall stubbornly continue to ask why.

lenca-puzzles

Lenca puzzles

I recently posted this little set of linguistic studies on Honduran Lenca on Academia.edu. "For what it's worth" ...
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zure-begiak

I love your eyes

A funny thing happened today. I got an email from Esko Kärki. Esko is a Finnish man whom I don't know ...
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Lenca Verbal Morphology

I have opened a feedback session on academia.edu to present and discuss one of my studies on Lenca ...
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CEL cover

Conozcamos el lenca

TUSHIK: Conozcamos el lenca, una lengua de El Salvador Conozcamos el lenca, una lengua de El Salvador por Alan ...
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ABC2

A Basque course (second draft)

From AHA (my Auto-Historical Archive) Author: Alan R. King Title: A Basque course. A complete initiation to the study of the ...
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constellation

A constellation of perspectives: focusing on galdegaia

From AHA (my Auto-Historical Archive) Author: Alan R. King Title: A constellation of perspectives: focusing on galdegaia Date: 2000 Publication status: Paper read ...
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lenca dialect map

Ima Tuya (lengua lenca de El Salvador)

TUSHIK: Ima Tuya. Una aproximación a la lengua lenca de El Salvador Serie de presentaciones de PowerPoint que ofrecen  ...
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Berta Napa Laina

TUSHIK: Berta Napa Laina: Hacia la reconstrucción de Soror i Putum Un informe por Alan King donde presento un ...
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Yidish-dialects-ru

Questions about Western Yiddish

From AHA (my Auto-Historical Archive) Author: Alan R. King Title: Questions about Western Yiddish Date: 1990 Publication status: Unpublished typescript. Length: 34 pages.
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Ehun orduko ikas-helburu bat

From AHA (my Auto-Historical Archive) Author: Alan R. King Title: Ehun orduko ikas-helburu bat Date: 1985 Publication status: Unpublished typescript. Length: 62 pages.
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Me and Mameloshn

Yiddish is the one language other than English to which I was exposed, sporadically, as a child. It was not ...
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Alan's Personal Website