Academic Disciplines: The Scholarly Dispute Over The Meaning of Linguistics

Fashions in academe may be a bit more durable than those of Paris couturiers, but, like hemlines, the popularity of disciplines rises and falls. Much in vogue at the moment, right up there with particle physics and computer technology, is the study of linguistics. Its new popularity, contends Princeton Linguist William Moulton, stems from a growing recognition that it is "the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences."

In the U.S. today, at least 30 universities now offer a Ph.D. in linguistics, compared with only four just 20 years ago. Ten years ago, the...

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