Teaching Linguistics Outside the Classroom

Will Leben (Stanford University)

As Mark Liberman often points out, linguists have failed in their responsibility to educate the public. Understandably, building the discipline from the inside has been a full-time job for practically all of us. But what gains would come if linguistics were carried into a wider domain?

In this paper I share my experiences as a consultant for a naming company, Lexicon Branding, Inc, where as part-time director of linguistics for twenty years, I've looked for practical uses for linguistics. The amount of overlap between linguistics and naming has been surprising, given the very different concerns of business and of our discipline. Two examples are the study of sound symbolism and the study of English loanwords in foreign languages.