Do you ever wonder how languages came to be? Do you already want to be the next Noam Chomsky? Want to understand this “17 signs you’re a linguistics major” article? For you to accomplish any of those goals, you probably should start looking into the fascinating field of linguistics. If you have no clue what I just said, no worries! This is the reason why you are reading this article.
What is Linguistics?
Before I arrived in college, I had no idea what linguistics was or what you would even learn in a course on linguistics. Even writing this article, I am learning more about the major since it is not as common as Biology or Economics. Defined by UC Davis, linguistics is “the search for the unconscious knowledge that humans have about language(s), an understanding of the structure of language, and knowledge about how languages differ from each other.” Well said, UC Davis’s linguistics department, well said. Having a couple friends at my college who major in linguistics, I ask them to describe what all of this stuff is about “unconscious knowledge” that people have about languages. One friend used the popular example of how children learn languages. When you are young, you can form and speak sentences. But did you ever wonder how you knew before you knew? That is a concept linguistics tackles to understand.
Linguistics studies the various aspects of the human language: properties such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Subfields such as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, and dialectology look at larger questions that involve how language interacts with time and groups of people. These are important elements in the study of linguistics that you should consider when looking at what courses a university offers in the department.
What skills do you gain from being a linguistics major?
So you learn about how people come to understand language, but what kind of skills will you gain from this course of study? For one, you will develop strong analytical reasoning skills and, specially, how to scientifically comprehend languages. These translatable intellectual skills developed from your courses and work can be applied to a variety of jobs as well as different graduate-level programs for those who want to pursue further degrees.
What kind of jobs can you get with linguistics?
As previously stated, you can apply your developed skills from studying linguistics to a variety of careers. Below are several jobs you can look into that most directly utilize the courses you learned from your major:
- Academia (Researcher, Professor)
- International Business (foreign business consulting)
- Foreign Service (Government)
- Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)
- Translator and Interpreter
Where should I go to study linguistics?
Like most other undergraduate majors, most colleges and universities with a linguistics department will be fine. You would have to see whether or not the type of environment (large vs small classes, etc) fits your criteria as well as whether or not the college or university offers the courses that you would want to take. Below are a couple of colleges and universities to start your search:
- UC Berkeley: Linguistics
- UCLA: Linguistics
- University of Massachusetts: Amherst: Linguistics
- University of Pennsylvania: Linguistics
- Ohio State: Linguistics