Frequently Asked Questions

Born: May 3, 1956, Perth, Western Australia

Education: BA(Hons): Linguistics; Dip.Ed. Second Ed; M.Ed(Ed.Admin.)

Name: Malcom (yes, I know, the second ‘l’ is missing, darn parents) Brown (no ‘e’)

Where do you live now? Melbourne, Australia

Where have you lived? Perth, WA; Canberra, ACT; Strelley & Warralong Stations (near Port Hedland, WA); Ernabella (near Ayers Rock, NT); Mt Burr (near Mt Gambier, SA); Melbourne, Vic

I’m a linguist. What is that?

A linguist studies language, how it works, how it is acquired, and how people use it to communicate. Although linguists are often interested in and can speak a variety of languages, linguists know more about how language works, rather than having the ability to speak and understand multiple languages.

A polyglot is a person who speaks a multitude of languages.

So, if linguistics doesn’t teach particular languages, why study it?

Every language is like a one-of-a-kind species. It captures unique views of the world and has its own ways of constructing words, phrases, and sentences for communicating ideas. As we compare the words and structures of various languages, we come to a greater understanding of the world we live in. Apart from simply understanding the intricacies of world languages, this knowledge can be applied to improving communication between people, contributing to translation activities, assisting in literacy efforts, and treating speech disorders. And, of course, linguistics training is also valuable for studying and learning languages.

Linguistics helps us empower people

Because language captures how we perceive the world around us and how we relate to one another, it defines who we are. Our first language, or the “mother tongue” we grow up with, is the one we use to express what is in our hearts; it is our heart language. Many minority-language communities are marginalized because of their cultural background, or because their heart language is not the language of power. As a result, thousands of minority-language communities do not have access to education in a language they can understand. They become trapped in a cycle of poverty and discrimination simply because they are not part of the majority language and culture.

Linguistics is a science. It’s a human science. It’s one of the more interesting human sciences.

More About Me ……

As I progressed through High School, it was starting to get to the stage that a career path needed to be decided. 

The ‘What are you going to be when you grow up’ question had come up often enough already, and the first sensible response was, I recall, ‘a teacher’.

As a student, I was to follow my Dad’s footsteps to Wesley College in Perth, and I remember at the entrance interview with the Principal, my Dad telling him that I was going to be a teacher. This seemed to impress the Principal. 

Later, as my academic bents became evident, and after I was expelled from Wesley, it was a bit clearer to all that I was just a good allrounder. I didn’t excel at anything – science, arts, music, maths – the scores were always in the upper quartile, but not at the top. Even in sport, I hovered between the A team and the Captain of the B Team.

So, my Dad took it on himself to find a Uni course that needed just competence in all subjects, and Linguistics was the answer. The science and study of language combined scientific analysis, mathematical calculations and humanities sense of general speak.

I did an Honours Degree in Linguistics at ANU. The faculty focused on Australian Indigenous languages. I moved on to honour my original teacher goal by finishing a Diploma in Education at Monash Uni – in General Studies.

This took me to a teacher-linguist role in Outback Australia, and I worked with remote Indigenous communities, transcribing their language and teaching the written form to the adults.

I returned to mainstream teaching via schools near Mt Gambier. Then moved back to Melbourne to commence a new career in hospitality(I loved the smell of coffee and the taste of carrot cake), then on to retail(I love office supplies as well), and then business(great business people have always inspired me).

None of what I have done has been a passion. Who knows what my passion is. It’s not essential. I only do things that interest me. That’s the gold seam I follow. I keep tapping away until the seam peters out, and there is no more value. I follow a path until I lose interest. 

Everything I’ve done has been of value, to me. I’ve enjoyed speaking to groups, designing learning material, creating purposeful work with teams, seeking solutions to business problems, doing deep work on topics of substance, studying, and learning.

My above-average grades have taken me everywhere. I’m thankful that I didn’t follow a narrow road to professional success and instead experience a rich life of general happiness.