Linguistics and its orthographically related disciplines

Nathan Sanders writes on Facebook to display the nameplate for his new position at Haverford College:

There are few people in LINGUISTICS who have not been afflicted by the spelling LINQUISTICS, or else LINGUSITICS. But it is a little-known fact that these are actual names of academic disciplines quite distinct from linguistics.

LINQUISTICS. A cross-over area combining cultural studies and computer science, linquistics is the study of linques. A linque is an affected, pseudo-French computer link (also known by the vernacular name Miss Piggy link): “Just click on moi!”

LINGUSITICS. Long a controversial academic area, lingusitics examines linguses, that is, penises, in their every aspect (lingus ‘penis’, an Indo-Greek portmanteau, lingam + phallus). There is some dispute within the field as to whether it should be viewed as a hard experimental science or as a field of interpretive humanistic scholarship.

Etymologists are unsure about the relationship between this noun lingus and the non-technical noun dingus. From NOAD2:

N. Amer. & S. African informal  used to refer to something whose name the speaker cannot remember, is unsure of, or is humorously or euphemistically omitting: here’s a doohickey — and there’s the dingus. ORIGIN late 19th cent.: via Afrikaans from Dutch ding ‘thing.’

There’s a close phonetic relationship here, and also the possibility of a semantic relationship, given the use of dingus as a phallic euphemism, an avoidance term for dick or dong, as in

I rammed my dingus into his doo-hickey.

lingusitics-2. There is, in fact, an entirely separate academic area known as lingusitics (this sort of multiple use of a discipline name is not uncommon; consider the many fields of study labeled morphology, in linguistics, biology, astronomy, and geology). This lingusitics is a branch of engineering devoted to the study of linguses, where a lingus is a fleet (of ships or planes), as in the name of the Irish airline Aer Lingus ‘air fleet’.

There’s a breakaway group of lingusiticians who view the field as a branch of social science or ethology, studying the behavior of ships and planes in groups.

One Response to “Linguistics and its orthographically related disciplines”

  1. Justin Arn Says:

    Rarely, have I sympathized with the travails of an academic group, the way I now, having read this post, must for linguists. The daunting notion that many years will be spent seeing their names plastered next an entirely separate discipline, I’m quite must ennerve many, otherwise eager, dillitentes.

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