linguist on/in

michael13

Senior Member
Chinese
If an English linguist might be interpreted as a linguist from England or as a linguist specializing in English, what is the most succinct way to refer to such a person? How should I phrase/improve my sentence?:

eg He is a linguist on/in English.
 
  • michael13

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you Cyber.

    But a professor is usually a teacher at university, while a linguist could be or not. Do you think

    eg He is a linguist on/in English.

    is not English?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thank you Cyber.

    But a professor is usually a teacher at university, while a linguist could be or not. Do you think

    eg He is a linguist on/in English.

    is not English?
    That sentence sure looks odd to me, michael13. If I wanted to express that idea, I'd forget "in" and "on" and use another structure: He is a linguist who studies English.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    If an English linguist might be interpreted as a linguist from England or as a linguist specializing in English, what is the most succinct way to refer to such a person? How should I phrase/improve my sentence?
    e.g. He is a linguist on/in English.
    No, "he is a linguist in (or on) English" won't do.
    If you want to pinpoint where he's from, try: He is a British linguist.*
    If you want to narrow his field of expertise: He is a linguist specializing in the study of English.

    *If you must be more specific: He is a linguist based in London. (or . . . in Birmingham, England.)
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I would take "He is an English linguist" as referring to his nationality. It may just be me, but it comes across as odd to refer to "English" in the other context: "linguist" implies a level of skill at languages generally or at several different ones. If you want to single out his English, then "specializing in...", as you suggested originally, is probably the best way of doing it.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Don.

    " ... linguist" implies a level of skill at languages generally or at several different ones".

    In my (alas!) long career in the linguistics arena, I've encountered superb linguists who couldn't express themselves decently in any foreign language; I've also met fluent speakers of different foreign tongues who didn't know the basics of linguistics.
    I think it is very English (British?) to use the term "linguist" to refer to a polyglot.
    In Continental Europe we tend to use the noun "linguist" — in the old days many would use the term "linguistician" — as derived from linguistics, not from language(s).

    GS :)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    " ... linguist" implies a level of skill at languages generally or at several different ones".

    In my (alas!) long career in the linguistics arena, I've encountered superb linguists who couldn't express themselves decently in any foreign language; I've also met fluent speakers of different foreign tongues who didn't know the basics of linguistics.
    I think it is very English (British?) to use the term "linguist" to refer to a polyglot.
    In Continental Europe we tend to use the noun "linguist" — in the old days many would use the term "linguistician" — as derived from linguistics, not from language(s).
    Your initial comment there reminds me of the old joke about the guy who could speak twelve languages fluently, but had nothing intelligent to say in any of them. :D

    My interpretation of "linguist" was based around the Oxford English Dictionary definition:
    1. a person skilled in foreign languages.
    2. a person who studies linguistics.
    You're right in saying that in common everyday BE usage "linguist" is found more often than "polyglot" and that may very well be a peculiarly English habit. So I just used that interpretation as being what the OP meant by the question: it didn't come across to me as implying anything to do with the study of linguistics, although I could be quite wrong on that score.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    As Giorgio says, it doesn't follow that someone who studies linguistics can understand a foreign language.
    I use linguist in its primary meaning, i.e. someone who is able to speak/write one or more languages besides their own.
    If I were to refer to someone with a degree in linguistics, I might refer to a lecturer in English linguistics or a linguistics lecturer specialising in English.
     
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