Friday, August 17, 2007

Linguists on the teevee

What seems to be a very new blog has posted this:
I am not a linguist, nor do I play one on TV. (There's a pitch for the networks: Chicago Five-Oh: A buttoned-down linguistics professor solves crimes during office hours with her red pen and a penchant for descriptive phonetics! Dun dun dun!)
What with Language Log becoming a major media outlet, Stephen Pinker publishing on genealogy in the New Republic (I kid you not, see here), and so on, I say: Why not.

The description sounds like more of a CSI kind of hook, instead of Hawaii Five-0, given the lab angle and the reference to phonetics. But I kind of like the tough guy angle — think ¿Quien es mas macho? on Saturday Night Live — here. If you're into Proto-World, I'd go with an X-files knock off. And we all too often seem like we're the cast of Lost, but .... . Of course, Matt Groening has already given us a brilliant linguistics series, even if it doesn't star a linguist.

Sadly, I don't know enough about what's on television to even imagine good parodies.


Ben Zimmer said...

I jokingly referred to the need for a forensic linguistics show a la CSI and Bones in this Language Log post. Subsequently I heard from Roger Shuy that a TV writer was trying to put together a pilot with exactly that premise, but nothing ever came of it.

Mr. Verb said...

Curses ... missed another one. But you mean "nothing has come of it yet", I trust! Thanks.

Jangari said...

I remember some show a few years ago that had a linguist in it - it might have been The 4400 (was that what it was called?) where people were abducted by aliens and returned later on with 'powers', or something.

Whichever show it was, it wasn't very good and I never got into it. But then someone told me there was a linguist in it, so I sat down to watch an episode.

The linguist was a midget, as if the mere being a linguist wasn't 'interesting' enough for a character.

I can just imagine the writers' meeting:
"And then there's the forensic linguist..."
"Meh, that's not 'interesting'"
"Okay, okay. How about a forensic linguist who is also a midget!"
"Now you're on to something."

Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect towards midgets/little people/people of short stature or whatever the current euphemism is.

Mr. Verb said...

Wow, I clearly don't know enough about TV to even MENTION this topic.