Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nurse linguists vs doctor linguists

After we had been working on sentence trees; head final vs head initial languages; comparing English, French and Algonquin; diagramming N-N compounds vs NP with propositions, my student (who is a nurse working in an Algonquin community) asked me "do linguists become translators?" To which I found a very good answer using a metaphor of the difference between Nurse Practitioners and Doctors. Apparently, both treat the patient but from a very different point of view.

My Answer:

Translators have to be bilingual first of all, and also very, very good at understanding what someone wants to say; what is between the lines. Most Linguists love logic and structure; they are nerdy like the IT guys in your office - they don't like to communicate with humans.

Nurse-like-linguists can become translators (if they get experience, and the Translators Union lets them) but doctor-like-linguists work on research... and might never make good nurses.

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