Majors, Hawaii, Linguistics, and the Study of Women’s Underwear

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Mordecai, age 6
I loved reading all of the guesses about what I majored in in college.
I got a kick out of the History…I hated History…up until I began homeschooling my children. I would say History came right after Math on my scale of classes I hated all through school.
Why? Because I hated reading dry, boring textbooks memorizing long lists of names and dates and regurgitating the information every week. Now, as you know, History is probably my favorite subject to teach my children. Why? Because we read great biographies and well written historical accounts as well as historical fiction. We immerse ourselves in the time period. We read books, sew costumes, cook food, draw pictures and anything else that strikes our fancy.
But I still hated History in college. And Chuck will get on to me if I don’t share the story of how I had to take a History class a the University of Hawaii but the only one I could fit in was a 400 level class. Gulp. The first day, the professor walked in and said, “I’m not wasting my time teaching what’s in the textbook. If it’s in the textbook, you’re responsible to know it”. And he was true to his word, never once did he crack open the book…instead he lectured on topics of his choice each day, along with an (all too) generous sprinkling of stories about his relationship with his current girlfriend…and this guy had to be in his late sixties. And I still pulled an A in the class, due to the fact that over 50% of the final was based on a final 20-page essay…and I can write my way out of nearly anything 🙂
Which brings me to all of those English guesses.
I love the English language…I love reading, writing and talking. What’s not to love? But alas, I did not major in English (though it would have no doubt been a good fit- and you can bet I took plenty of English and writing classes).
So what did I major in? Linguistics….as in the study of language itself. How we use language, grammar, and syntax. The origin of language. How languages change and evolve. I loved every single Linguistics class I ever took (beginning with a college level class in High School).
Why would I major in something like that? Number one, because I love it. Number two, because I planned on being a Bible translator. When I married Chuck, we had grand plans of raising our children off in the jungle somewhere, in some remote tribe as we created a written language and then translated the Bible into that language. But God had other plans, as he clearly closed the door each time we applied to a mission board. So here we are, raising our tribe in Northwest Washington instead.
And one final Hawaiian story, while we’re traveling down memory lane.
My parents came to visit while Chuck and I lived in Hawaii, and attended the requisite luau. While there they struck up a conversation with another couple. My dad mentioned I was attending the university and majoring in Linguistics. The man paused for a moment, looking confused, and said:
“Linguistics? What’s that, the study of women’s underwear?”


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8 thoughts on “Majors, Hawaii, Linguistics, and the Study of Women’s Underwear”

  1. Well that was too funny.. Linguistics, well I will share English is my weakness. Never was my friend in High School, college English was easy, all we did was write.
    Math is my best and strongest subject!

  2. I hear you on the history. Closest thing to interesting was 8th grade- our teacher had us write a 1 page single spaced story about whatever event we were studying. I now love history, WWII being a fave, so I have loved your posts concerning those studies.

  3. Your college history prof reminds me of the one I had. Only in this case, the stuff on the test was not related to either the book or the lectures. I passed because he graded on a major curve — basically, the highest F became an A.
    I love linguistics! I also planned to be a Bible translator. So far it doesn’t seem to have been God’s plan, but I keep thinking maybe someday… I know there’s an upper age limit at some point for most organizations that do that, but I prefer not to know what it is.

  4. I dropped maths in first year uni and completely by chance decided to do linguistics to fill in the rest of the year. Little did I know I would do Honours in it (I think that’s what you guys call majoring), then a masters in special ed (but involving linguistics) then a PhD and a post doc in linguistics. And now I am lecturing it. It is a joy and pleasure to introduce the thrill of linguistics to new groups of students. And get paid for it!

  5. Linguistics? How cool!
    I can sympathize on the hate for history- it’s sill my worst subject in high school!
    I also wanted to say that I love your kids’ names.
    What are their full names? I remember there was a post about it but I can’t seem to find it!

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