Uhura Was a Comms Officer: Why Linguistics Matter

There is a perceived rivalry within science—ask an engineer and they will say that user experience folk aren’t doing “real” science. Science tends to be thought of as only things like chemistry (and particular kinds, at that), biology, physics—science is equations on a chalkboard or beakers full of mysterious liquids. Especially in popular media, which now includes technology—we have Java or C treated similarly to the equations, we have programming and electric engineering to make robots do what we want.

Popular media does includes some examples of the scientific study of language. Part of the problem, however, is that these characters’ specialties tend to be seen as a general “soft” character—more so in the case of a male character—than an action hero or respected academic. As such, these characters get combined with other tropes, but as representations, these characters are very powerful. While I confess I had training in sociolinguistics for my Master’s degree, due to specializing in online language usage, I am biased—but only in the same sense as an engineer defends their own choice of discipline, or a fan talks about the merits of Star Wars and Star Trek.

Read more: Paste Magazine

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