Language is a complex system of communication and every language has its unique way of constructing words, phrases and sentences to communicate ideas.
In this article, we look into what linguistics is, skills you need to study linguistics and careers you can explore with a linguistics degree.
Linguistics is the study of the different aspects that make up languages, how they combine, how humans acquire knowledge about languages and how languages express who we are socially and culturally.
This field of study examines the general and specific structures of languages, how languages vary between geographic regions and how different languages form sounds, words and sentences.
Although linguists can speak a variety of languages, they are primarily concerned with exploring how languages work, develop and how people process languages. A person who speaks and understands multiple languages is called a polyglot. While many linguists are polyglots, the science of linguistics is focused on how we communicate rather than on what languages we communicate.
Skills needed to study linguistics
Before choosing to study linguistics, you should have an interest in learning the many aspects of human language and how people acquire knowledge about languages. In addition to this interest, you will also need some skills to help you make insightful observations and conclusions during your study program.
These skills include, but are not limited to:
- Good communication skills
- Analytical reasoning and critical thinking
- Research skills
- Organization skills
Careers to explore with a linguistics degree
Linguistics finds its use in almost every industry because language is a part of everything we do.
A degree in linguistics develops your problem solving, research and analytical skills among others. These skills are highly sought after by employers across several industries. With a degree in this field, you can explore diverse careers in psychology, education, journalism, marketing, sociology, political science and even computer science.
Here are popular fields graduates of linguistics find employment in:
The process involved in compiling, writing and editing dictionaries is called lexicography. This branch of linguistics studies the methods involved in preparing a dictionary. Qualified linguistics consultants are required in the preparation of good dictionaries.
Lexicographers need to be knowledgeable in areas like phonology, morphology, dialectology and historical linguistics.
Graduates of linguistics can also explore careers in education. With their knowledge and skills, these graduates can take up teaching positions roles at different levels of education. They can teach in departments like Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology and Communication Sciences. They can also develop learning and research materials that focus on specific communities.
A degree in linguistics will equip you with the technical skills you need to work in IT-related roles like speech recognition, natural language processing, text-to-speech synthesis and computer-assisted language learning. Tech companies require the services of linguists to build systems like iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa that can understand and mimic human language.
Publishing and Communication
Graduates of linguistics develop impressive communication and verbal skills during their degree program. These skills are ideal for editing, publishing, writing and other roles in communication. As a graduate of linguistics, you can explore careers like technical writing, journalism and editing.
Graduates of linguistics also find employment as a Speech-Language Pathologist (Speech Therapist). Speech and language therapy assesses and treats communication problems and speech disorders. A degree in linguistics teaches you the various aspects of human language including, Phonology, morphology and syntax. The skills and knowledge gained during your study are essential in correcting language and speech disorders.
What do you gain from a linguistics degree?
Linguistics is concerned with the nature and understanding of language and communication. A linguistics degree can be offered as either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, depending on your area of interest and your university’s curricula.
Though various universities adopt different approaches for their linguistics program, there are key areas a degree in this field will cover. Some of these areas are:
At a postgraduate level, you can choose to specialize in any of the areas of linguistics that you are interested in studying.
Universities you can explore for a degree in linguistics
Some universities may require a background in arts or humanities for a postgraduate degree in linguistics to prepare you for the critical and analytical aspects of your study program. For this reason, you must check the requirements of your prospective universities for the linguistics degree you are interested in studying.
Here are 5 universities you can consider for a degree in linguistics:
The linguistics undergraduate program at CSU is offered as both a major or minor in Linguistics. The university’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Science offers a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. With a curriculum that includes courses from communication, psychology and anthropology.
Queens College offers linguistics at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders brings together specializations in theoretical, experimental and applied linguistics. The department incorporates clinically based research in speech and communication disorders in its teaching.
The university offers an interdisciplinary programme in linguistics for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students majoring in linguistics can also choose to earn a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). FAU’s Department of Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Literature offers linguistics degrees and ESL certificate programmes to prepare students for work in a various language-related fields.
The linguistics faculty at SJSU offers an affordable Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics that provides expertise in many areas within linguistics. Students interested in the computer science application of linguistics can consider the Computational Linguistics Certificate Program of the department.
The department of linguistics at WWU offers a linguistics program that focuses on how the study of languages can provide the tools, skills and context to understand how language is used to separate and segregate in a population.