Why do languages matter?

February 27, 2018

"Language is what makes humans human".

 

That pretty much answers the question. Human life, whether you look at it from an economic, #social, scientific or another angle, is made possible through language.  Roughly said, that’s the core of the eloquent message broadcast by the brilliant cognitive scientist, linguist and Harvard professor of #psychology, Steven Pinker.

 

In a #London Real interview, he was asked perhaps one of the most hated and dreaded questions among linguists and language aficionados: “Why do linguistics matter?” It’s a sensitive topic and one that would push most people into a defensive position (it’s hard to argue sometimes and not be intimidated if your conversational partners are very pragmatic and tech-focused).  Maybe the biggest reason for this is that people involved with languages sometimes have trouble answering that question themselves.  I for one sure found it difficult. While I never had any doubt about how much I loved #languages as a language grad, I did sometimes worry about the #economic significance of it. “What am I going to do with this? How is this useful? Who is going to hire me?”

 

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