A lot of people don’t really know what linguistics is.Basically, the answer is linguistics is everything. Everything we use languagefor involves linguistics. Linguistics is how your brain processes things.Linguistics is how do we start conversations? How do we close conversations?You might use language to negotiate something with your spouse or partner. Weuse language to convince people of things. In everything that we do as humanbeings, we use language and so that’s why linguistics is really interesting tostudy. I’m Carmen Fought. I’m a professorof linguistics and I teach at Pitzer College.
I first got interested in linguistics because I lovedlanguages and I think that’s true for a lot of people. I started studyingdifferent languages and then I found out you could study language as a thingrather than just individual languages. Another aspect to it is what I dospecifically which is sociolinguistics. That’s language as it’s applied to everythingin society. It’s the study basically of society or sociology but through thelens of language. I look at how do people speak differently based on the regionof the country they’re from, based on their ethnicity, their age, their gender,their gender identity. If you think about it, when we speak, we’re trying to createa picture for someone of who we are, who we want to be seen as. In sociolinguistics,we look at all these things as part of how people create an identity. In theend, differences in language is about differences in what it means to be human.
For me, the small classrooms at Pitzer make a big difference.I want to get close to the students, I want to talk to them, I want to listen tothem, I want everyone to talk to each other; we really learn together.Something that I absolutely love is that in my classroom, the students areready to participate. They’re part of the classroom, it’s not just me up theretalking. They’re so insightful, they’re so creative and they’re really thething that makes the job worthwhile. I think it’s that special way of thinkingabout the world and raising the right questions that distinguishes a Pitzer student.It just makes them such a joy for us. I love my job every single day. I am not exaggerating.I come and I just feel so good talking with these people who have theseinteresting ideas, that want to think about things and want to change the world,and that makes the classroom richer for everybody.
I’m Carmen Fought and I’m a Pitzer professor.