Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing the many different aspects that make up human language by looking at its form, structure and context. Linguistics also looks at the interplay between sound and meaning, and how language varies between people and situations.
A degree in Linguistics can open the door to many careers owing to the emphasis on critical thought, analysis and communication skills.
Linguistics degrees cover a multitude of topics relating to the analysis of language and the way it is structured. They can also cover the way that language changes over time, how it varies between different groups of people and situations and how people learn or acquire language.
The first year of your course will focus on an introduction to linguistics, including grammar, meaning (semantics), syntax (sentence formation), sounds (phonology) and words (morphology). The course content for the second and third years of study will vary widely between universities but can cover anything from typology, experimental phonetics, language acquisition, child bilingualism, modern foreign languages, the study of regional speech, the history of language and neurolinguistics, among many others.
Linguistics courses may also incorporate aspects of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communications studies and science.
The variety is one of the things that makes linguistics fascinating: one day you might be poring over a medieval text for evidence of how the grammar of a language has changed, and the next, learning about how the larynx creates sound energy for speech, or how we can record brain responses in a categorisation task.
Linguistics is concerned with the nature of language and communication. It deals both with the study of particular languages, and the search for general properties common to all languages or large groups of languages. It includes the following subareas :
phonetics (the study of the production, acoustics and hearing of speech sounds)
phonology (the patterning of sounds)
morphology (the structure of words)
syntax (the structure of sentences)
pragmatics (language in context)
It also includes explorations into the nature of language variation (i. e., dialects), language change over time, how language is processed and stored in the brain, and how it is acquired by young children.
Linguistics is a growing and exciting field, with an increasingly important impact on other fields as diverse as psychology, philosophy, education, language teaching, sociology, anthropology, computer science, and artificial intelligence.
The skills acquired during a linguistics degree can be adapted for most industries. Direct career paths that can be followed are: lexicographer, speech and language therapist, languages teacher, copy editor, proofreader or a role in communications. Other career paths may include, but are not limited to, the civil service, marketing, journalism, law and IT. Further study can also be undertaken to help prepare for more specialised roles or to enhance linguistics knowledge.