Engineers are wonderful. They make our world, literally. They find solutions using the extant body of knowledge and a dash of tribal wisdom. They may do some science along the way, but it’s usually of the most practical sort, and almost never gets published. But they build our world, from food and farms (food and agricultural engineering) to our mobile phones (electronic, electrical, semiconductor, mechanical, quality, and production engineering) to even our families (parenting! OK, it’s not a formal discipline, but you get the idea).
Now, about our world. It has lots of stuff in it. And we’ve tamed just about everything. Starting with fire, we’ve moved on to clubs, chemicals, and even relativity. But one of the areas of our world that is still relatively “wild” is our language. English in particular is a language that changes rapidly, pretty much at the whim of the people. We’re inventing and corrupting definitions all the time.
It happens, through no fault of my own, that I am both husband and father to linguists. The latter was newly minted this year, and I’m often asked this question by well-meaning friends; “What are her employment prospects?”
My daughter can teach English, speak multiple languages, and understands much about why we write and speak. But how does this impact our economy? And this is where becoming an engineer fits.
Within any company, any society, language is a critical tool. We take it for granted, but it’s critical. Like any tool, if you wield it properly it can be a powerful ally in achieving your goals. Improperly used, it can cause havoc.
Writers, as astute observers of the human condition, know it’s only a matter of time before our society will speak and write with tools that have been carefully crafted. Until that time, we will have to create language that help us as individuals. This is where jargon comes from. The question for today is this; how much longer will it be before schools are turning out not only linguists, but linguistic engineers? These engineers will help companies create linguistic tools that help the company be more competitive, more efficient, and more responsive to the community.
Have a thought about this? Please write it down. And thank a linguist!