As I'm currently doing my MPhil. Linguistics I am confronted with general linguistics more often than I used to back when I was still focusing solely on historical linguistics. While to some extent I feel that general linguistics brings an insight into language, which might be lost when focusing on historical linguistics, I am often unpleasantly astounded by the lack of knowledge of some of my professors.
Anglocentrism, or Eurocentrism is what General Linguistics suffers from. So many of the linguistic models currently being made are almost purely based on the behavior of the English language, sometimes Chinese is thrown in for 'foreignness'. Not to discredit Chinese, but as a SVO language just like English, it might miss the 'foreignness' that could be brought by more syntactically exotic languages like Berber or Tibetan.
These days the theory on Syntax seems to be that VSO order is 'marked' and those languages that have this word order are currently being overanalysed to a point that it has nothing to do with the actual language anymore, just to make a point. Sure I'll give any of the anti-VSO'ers that yes, Irish might be argued to be far more SVO than VSO, nevertheless, there was without a doubt a stage that it was clearly VSO. But history of a language is of no interest to the general linguist.
But okay, these are subjects I still, feel very little for. Even if it's just that the classes I follow purely focus on English and Chinese, while they leave me with so many questions about Japanese, Berber, Tibetan, which due to their Anglocentrism, my teachers are unable to answer. It's infuriating. How can a teacher of linguistics have all kinds of theories on language, when their language proficiency delimits itself to something so limited?
On a less syntactic note but still a knowledge note the following happened to me a couple of months ago. I followed a class of Advanced Experimental Phonetics and my teacher claimed that languages do not have the sound [h] in coda.
Obviously I was astounded. In fact at that time I was doing research on Minangkabau, a Malay language, and anyone who has some knowledge of Malay should know that rumah is a perfectly normal word for 'house', with, yes, an [h] in coda!
And that's not all, what about Arabic, sure, it's not that common, but whatever happened to ahlan wa-sahlan an undeniably common phrase with no less than two [h] in coda!
I could go on for ages on this, for example what about Sanskrit whose word final *s shifted to h (incidentally a shift Minangkabau underwent too), o wait! Historical linguistics! It's a dead language so it doesn't exist.
How can a teacher in phonetics not be aware of such fundamental fact of phonetics? No a coda [h] isn't common, but to say that it doesn't occur is frankly, absurd.
So this is a call to all people who study General Linguistics. Please please learn at least 10 languages, even if it's just a passing knowledge of phonology and grammar, it should greatly improve understanding of how language actually work in the real world where people don't just speak English.
Another thing, I followed one class on speech acquisition of babies. This teacher claimed that at the earliest stages, babies are able to produce every sound, and in fact do. Only after they have learned the phonological system of a languages they start to gradually reduce the amount of sounds that they babble to fit the language they will learn to speak.
I don't know about you, but I have never heard a baby produce [qˁʷʼ]. Has anyone every stopped to think how absurd this idea is? I have no knowledge of Ubykh (or any caucasian language for that matter) , but I at least have enough of a passing knowledge of their rather exotic phonologies to know that if I'd ever come up with a hypothesis about speech acquisition of babies like this, that I'd know that I'd have to at least check up with Caucasian sounds and caucasian babies too.
God, I hope this doesn't sound too ranty, and I really hope someone comes by and discards all my, without a doubt, grossly exagerated examples.