Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analyzing the many 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.
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.
Why Study Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. At the heart of linguistics is an understanding of
The unconscious knowledge that humans have about language;
How humans acquire language;
The general and specific structures of language;
How languages vary;
How language influences the way in which humans interact with each other and think about the world;
Linguists investigate how people acquire knowledge about language, how this knowledge interacts with other thought processes, how it varies between speakers and geographic regions, and how to model this knowledge computationally;
They study how to represent the structure of various aspects of language (such as sounds or meaning), how to theoretically explain different linguistic patterns, and how different components of language interact with each other;
Many linguists employ statistical analysis, mathematics, and logical formalism to account for the patterns they observe.
About the Course
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, and the history of language and neurolinguistics, among many others.
Linguistics courses may also incorporate aspects of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communications studies, and science.
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 to 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, civil service, marketing, journalism, law, and IT. Further study can also be undertaken to help prepare for more specialized roles or to enhance linguistics knowledge.
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 categorization task.
A degree in Linguistics can open the door to many careers owing to the emphasis on critical thought, analysis, and communication skills.
Some jobs that more specifically use linguistics skills are the following:
Work in tech;
Work in education;
Teach at the university level;
Work as a translator or interpreter;
Teach English as a Second Language (ESL);
Teach a language other than English;
Work on language documentation or conduct fieldwork;
Work in the publishing industry (e.g. as an editor, technical writer or journalist);
Work for a testing agency;
Work with dictionaries (lexicography);
Become a consultant on language in professions such as Law or Medicine;