What should everyone know about language?
On the fluidity of important questions in linguistics
Keywords:common knowledge, discipline of linguistics, global survey, public outreach, science communication
This contribution examines whether there is agreement within the global community of linguists on what should constitute common knowledge about language among the general public. We report the results of a large-scale survey study where we asked established linguists around the world (n = 552) to rate 15 language-related questions with respect to how important it is that the public has knowledge about them. We analyze the ratings in relation to the demographic data that we collected from the respondents. Using ordinal logistic regression models, we show that the opinions regarding what is important for everyone to know vary between linguists from different parts of the world as well as between linguists working in different subfields of linguistics. The study provides an empirical starting point for a broader reflection on the field of linguistics and the variation therein with respect to views about public outreach and knowledge transfer.