Explaining technical topic in layperson terms (150 words max)

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elodie269
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I want to be able to explain very well, in simple terms, what my Masters degree subject, linguistics, is actually about- because most people have absolutely no idea (but...they *think* they do!).

I tried to explain theoretical linguistics in 150 words about a month ago, and I soon realized that ideas/concepts/terms which seem intuitive to me are really unclear to laypeople (often, very intelligent laypeople).

So, with that in mind, I'd like to try again, with a completely different approach. I will have to zoom out and give a very 'bird's eye view' of what (theoretical) linguistics is. Any views on how accessible and clear my words are will be greatly appreciated.


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Linguistics is the study of human language from a scientific perspective.
Theoretical linguistics departs from Chomsky's proposal that the human
brain has a special language component. Worldwide, children learn - in incredibly similar ways - languages which are very different in terms of word order possibilities (NB) and range of grammatical category (e.g. tenses, pronouns). This is possible because all languages and their grammatical structures result from the same mental language component. According to Chomsky, there is a system of principles common to all languages, and these principles result from the way that the brain's language component works. Essentially, these principles are mathematical in nature, just in the same way as mathematical principles determine how anything (e.g. our visual system, or how planets orbit) works in science.


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I hope that this seems a lot clearer. I would greatly appreciate any help; it's my fault if people can't understand!
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999tigger
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Why is this in graduate employment? Legal?
It also might be helpful to explain the context and purpose?
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elodie269
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(Original post by 999tigger)
Why is this in graduate employment? Legal?
It also might be helpful to explain the context and purpose?
It's just something that I want to be able to do, because it's an important skill for a barrister (explaining complex ideas in simple terms). I meet many lawyers, who ask about my degree, and I want to be able to explain it well and make it accessible.
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