بحث با Marten and Inge: زبان شناسان چه کاری انجام می دهند؟

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Hi. In the previous video I introduced you
into the miracle of linguistic variety. There are so many different languages in
the world, and we cannot even count them. And I introduced you into one of
the most important resources we have for studying linguistic variety in the world
and in individual countries, the so-called Ethnologue website. I'm now going to discuss topics like this
more with my students Marten and Inge. >> So, I first have a seemingly stupid
question about linguists and ethnologue. Is that just the tool that they use? Do linguists just sit at their desk
all day looking at ethnologue? >> Yes, typing on words,
then trying to see on this website. No, that would indeed be,
a little bit silly, I think. One, for one thing, obviously there's also
linguists who make the ethnologue website, so they would definitely
do something else. But actually linguists do many different
things, I think this is one of the nice things about being a linguist, you can
work in many different kinds of places. The famous American social linguist,
William Labov, once said, linguists work in five different fields,
in five different areas in the world. They work in the library, they work
in the bush, they work in the closet, they work in the laboratory,
and they work on the street. And I think that's a very
nice distinction, and maybe we can discuss these
five a little bit more now. >> Okay, so, the first was library. So, I would expect a linguist who
works in the library to look at books, to work with books, maybe history books. >> Right, I have to say Labov
said this in the 1970s, so this was really before the Internet. So I think looking at Ethnologue
would be something which you would do in the library at that time as well,
and looking in the Internet now is, counts as being in the library sometimes. >> Sure. >> But it is, indeed, associated
with looking into reference works. An important group of linguists, who uses the library a lot
are so-called historical linguists. They are the people who study now
the history of the individual language, or the way in which languages
are related in language families. They can also study the way in
which language is used, for instance in literary work,
those are called philologists. They may sometimes be called linguists,
sometimes not, but, if they are a bit egomaniacal, then we
can say they are linguists, as well. But indeed, so that's a, that's a large
group, it's an important group, it has been the traditional
place where linguists work. >> Okay.
>> In a library >> So they also work in the bush? I was thinking what does this mean? Does it mean like, there are linguists who
go to far away places, in the bush maybe? [LAUGH] Who try to find new languages,
or try to describe them, or... >> Right, well, yes. So, these are very
admirable people I think. They go indeed to difficult places
usually to study languages, which are new in the sense that we
don't know anything about them. And for most of the 6,
7,000 languages of the world, we hardly know anything,
because they're spoken in areas where people are difficult to reach,
they're spoken by small groups of people. Most or a large majority of the languages
has really not been described, maybe we know a handful of words, and that's actually a problem, given that many
of these languages seem to disappear. So they're, people say they're going to
disappear over the next hundred years, maybe in a hundred years from now we
only have a few hundred languages left. We may not want these languages to be
gone without leaving any trace because they can give us a lot of information
about what human language can do. So, it's a pity for
us as linguists, if they disappear. >> Mm-hm. >> It might also be a pity for the people
involved, very often these people move, to some kind of dominant,
often European language. For instance, in Brazil they might
move to Portuguese, or in Indonesia they might
move to Indonesian. And they do so for good reasons,
namely, they want to have a good career or want to give their
children a good career opportunity. But it's a pity that these languages
are lost, lost sometimes because their children in the end,
might want to go back to their roots, and want to know more,
at least know more about it. If you haven't written anything,
we will never know anything more about it. So this is a big concern to a very
large group of linguists nowadays, to try to conscribe and
describe the languages of the world. These languages, as I said, they are very
often spoken, while the bush is just one kind of term, but they're spoken in
areas which are not very easy to reach. People go there and
spend a few years of their life, to describe these languages and
live with those people. And that's another thing
which linguists do, it's a very different area than
working in the library, of course. >> And I think it's also very different
from working in the closet, right? I think, maybe from that list,
that one was the one that puzzled me most, because in the closet,
well what would someone do there? Presumably you're alone,
because there's not a lot of space. >> [LAUGH]
>> And you're, you know, you have tunnel vision that, some project
that you're working on, in solitude. >> Well, what would you think that
a linguist does in the closet? >> Well, write, probably. >> Right.
Well, okay, so that's obviously something that every
scholar needs to do at some point, so in that sense, it's clear that
every scholar needs a closet. But there's also many linguists who spend
their time in the closet, for instance, because we need a lot of thinking,
we have already seen, just in the few videos before, we have seen that there's
many puzzles about human language. There's many things we
just don't understand, and in order to understand them,
you might want to be alone, or with a colleague together and
just sit behind your desk and think, or you might want to write
a grammar of an individual language. So if you think, that's what we
typically call a theoretical linguist. >> And if you write a grammar, you would
be a grammarian, obviously. Grammarians are often
theoretical linguists as well, because they spend their
time in this closet. Again, there's a large group of linguists
who spent their life like that. If you're describing,
just your own language, if you're describing the language
which you speak every day, and there's many thing, there's no language
which has been described completely. English, obviously, is a language
on which many people have worked. >> Mm-hm.
>> The grammar of English has been described, really fairly well, and
still, there's things we don't know. Still, linguists can spend
their time working on it. If they speak English as
their native language, they don't need to go to the bush to
find other people who speak that, they can just consider their own
knowledge about these languages. So, linguists can easily spend
their life in the closet as well. >> Okay, and
other linguists work in the lab? >> Yeah.
>> It seems an interesting place, I was wondering what are they doing there? I can imagine that you need,
if you want to study language, in a lab, you need people,
so, and what happens? >> [LAUGH]
>> You have to make them speak. >> Yeah, well I mean obviously,
if you think about language in the lab. Yeah, you're probably going to
bring in people into that lab, because they will produce the language. And you also need some machines, right? So do we have any idea about what
kind of machines they could be? >> Well, I'd say computers and microphones and that kind of...
>> Yeah, so microphones is obviously a good thing. So there's phoneticians, we're going to look
a little bit into that next module. Phoneticians who study speech sounds,
so we can record those speech sounds, and then typically put them in
the computer and study them in detail. Exactly what do you do,
when you produce these sounds? How do these sounds look like and how are they different from
one speaker to the next? So that's one thing you can do. There's another big group of linguists,
they're usually called psycholinguists, so they study linguistics in
combination with psychology or from a psychological point of view. So the way in which people in
their mind work with language. >> Hm.
>> Very often, they also work in a lab. In the lab, again, they put people,
maybe they put a computer, and they do little tests with the people
on the, on that computer. All right, so
it's languages which we already know, but we don't know how exactly people behave,
how they react to words, how fast can they recognize
a word when they see it. Well, if you have very precise technology,
you can see that. >> Okay. >> And maybe there's a third kind of lab, which is interesting now days, you can
also put people in a brain scanner, and look into their brain and see what
happens there, when they use language. If language is something which is so
specifically human, there must be certain things in our brain,
which are specifically human and which go on when we are using language. That's something you can study. So the lab is indeed, as you say,
a very interesting place. It's a interesting place to be, it's a place where linguists have learned
many things about how language works. >> Yes, and
Labov's final point was at the street, so linguists work on the street. So I can imagine that there are linguists
who just go on the street and who listen very carefully-
>> [LAUGH] >> To what the customer says to the butcher and the butcher
says to the customer and vice versa. >> Right, yeah. So you, so
you could say the street in that sense, the street is like the bush, but
it's just a little bit closer to home. But what, what Labov meant specifically
with the street, is not just to describe one language, but he is very
interested in the small differences. So if the butcher talks to the customer,
do they speak differently, or does the butcher speak differently
to the customer, than to his mother? Well, the answer's probably yes,
unless his mother is his customer. so and that's small variation, and those are things which people
find interesting as well. And about where we can learn many things, because these small variations,
they're very tiny, but, well they may end up being as big as
the difference between French and Italian. So from studying that, we can also learn how languages
start varying at a larger scale. >> So
now that we've seen all these five things everybody of course wants to be
a linguist after taking this course, so where do you think would be best for
people to go? >> Yeah, would it be best to be
a linguist in the library or would it be best to be a linguist,
well, in one of these other places? Labov said, and
I think he is completely right in that, we need all five of those. In this video, we have seen that linguists work in many
different kinds of areas in the world. In the next video, you are going
to do some field work yourself. But don't worry,
you don't have to go into the bush, you can just do this behind your desk
in the library or in your closet.

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