Wax Tadpole: Questions Linguists Should Answer

Guest   Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:36 pm GMT
I have the book by Ms. Little about language trivia and I am struck by the the same thing that always bothers me. Why don't linguists claim to know foreign languages?

How is it that she knows many little facts about obscure languages, but struggles with Italian? Ms. Little studied Ancient Greek in high school and Chinese intensively for awhile, but I'm not sure that she even claims to speak Chinese.

Are Linguists taught to be humble? Do they learn grammar without learning the language? Or do linguists note the depth and breadth of a language, and humbly concede that they don't speak it because no one really knows a language?