The role of linguists PDF Print E-mail

The role of linguists includes working both with communities and with other linguists. When working with communities, linguists provide expertise in documenting and describing languages. They have training in analysing the rich and complex structures of languages. They work creatively with archival documents, sound recordings, language speakers and informants. They apply their intellectual labour to the data collected from these various sources in order to compile and produce publications such as grammars and dictionaries. Publications such as these can take years of work. Linguists need to respond to the requests, ideas and aspirations of communities for the revitalisation of their languages. Linguists can support communities by being committed to developing practical as well as theoretical resources. As part of any language project, a linguist should be passing on useful skills and knowledge which the community can continue to use independently, eg computer skills, skills in language description and analysis, using and maintaining recording equipment, applying for grants.

When linguists work with other linguists, they share the results of their research, through teaching and through publishing books and papers and speaking at conferences. This is an important part of their role. Through writing and speaking in national and international contexts, linguists critique and appraise each other’s work in order to more accurately analyse and describe the languages they are working on.