Questions to Professor Zaring

How did you become a linguist?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a linguist—in both senses of the word. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to learn another language (the older, polyglot meaning of linguist), and when I learn one, I’ve always dissected it, trying to figure out how it works—what its pieces are and how they fit together (the newer, scientific meaning of linguist).

What do you especially like about teaching linguistics at Luther?

The neatest thing about teaching at Luther is that I get to work closely with students who’ve never heard of linguistics before and who become just as excited about it as I do. Their discoveries always lead me to new ones, too—learning can’t get any cooler than that! And because language is such an integral part of our lives, a linguistic perspective is something that students in any field can benefit from.


Syntax tree for the sentence
Syntax tree for the sentence "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."

Above is a syntax tree; the sentence "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" is grammatically correct, but makes little sense; by Aaron Rotenberg, from Wikimedia Commons.