Article 15: Questionnaire 1:

Article 15 says that governments should “recognize the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.”  The first two questions ask you to think about the benefits of science in the context of linguistics.

1. How does linguistics benefit society and the individuals within it?

Language from your professional association’s mission and/or vision statement may be useful here.

2. Please give at least one example of current work in linguistics that is benefiting or will benefit society and/or individuals.

It might be useful to think of applications of linguistics research in answering this question.  These examples may come from your own work or other linguists.

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3 Responses to Article 15: Questionnaire 1:

  1. Claire says:

    I can think of a couple of ways in which what we do is of general benefit. We might include

    . documentation of endangered languages, and all that goes along with that (e.g. raising the profile of indigenous and undocumented languages in the wider community, being formal (or informal) advocates for the groups we work with, etc — commentators can no doubt provide others)

    . Educational applications of linguistic research, e.g. in bilingualism, neurolinguistics, applied linguistics.

    . The tools of forensic linguistics are important in providing evidence in court cases (not only in criminal cases but also in areas such as refugee status determinations).

  2. Jeff Good says:

    The first thing that comes to my mind in this area is the role linguistics has had (and continues to have) in making it clear that socially stigmatized language varieties are not inherently inferior systems of communication to socially powerful varieties (with the classic case being African-American Vernacular English as compared to Standard American English). This line of work clearly can benefit groups speaking stigmatized varieties.

    A similar example, though involving stigmatized languages rather than varieties, has been the role of linguistics in establishing that sign languages are communicatively equal to spoken languages.

  3. Paul Chapin says:

    Expanding a bit on Jeff’s comment, linguistics provides solid evidence that bilingualism is a social and cognitive asset, and thus that speakers of other languages besides the dominant one are to be commended and encouraged, not condemned and suppressed.

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