I ordered a copy of An ABC for Baby Linguists basically the moment I spotted it on #linguistlist. I gave it to a friend who recently had a baby–a gesture which surely held more comedic and sentimental value for me than for said baby or (non-linguist) friend. It has some pretty cute turns of phrase, and only one or two moments of brainwashing babies that disciplinary cognitivist Chomskyan linguistics is The One Real Truth (details to come if I decide to order another copy for myself!).

The best part of the whole adventure was the sprinkling of hardcore linguistix lyfestyle marketing materials that came in the package, including a flyer for LX gear available at Cafe Press, such as a baby onesie and a bib with goofy, not-especially-clever (read: not punny enough) LX jokes on them. The bib is particularly awkward: “language is like a good applesauce. It’s best when you’re immersed in it.” This may be a reference to applied linguistics’ specific denotation for “language immersion” as an effective learning technique/product (for more ***native-like*** ***fluency*** — asterisks imply level of problematizing I could do if this weren’t already a distraction from ***real*** work), but really, when are we NOT immersed in language? Even a baby wouldn’t want to be THAT constantly immersed in applesauce because it would leave very few waking minutes of the day during which to dry off. Diaper rash much?! Of course, the notion of ***the*** language of the other delimited in some concentrated space over ***there*** is easier to fetishize as a place in which to immerse oneself while not in the ***neutral*** company of one’s own invisible dynamic sea of language.

Or maybe I’m making too much of this? At the very least, I can point out that there is some very strong have-babies-and-prosper messaging* coming from the Linguilluminati.

* see Silverstein and Lempert, Creatures of Politics for an interesting study of message and messaging in political discourse (wherein the linganthro ***philosopher-kings*** decide to cut loose and have a little fun for a popular audience)


One thought on “#SWAG

  1. This reminds me of those baby clothes they sell in college bookstores. I wonder if it also taps into that zeal that many formal linguists have for telling funny stories about child language acquisition? It’s so cute the way the little ones acquire verb tenses. I mean to be fair, some of those stories are pretty great.

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