Linguistics Program


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What is language? What do we know when we know a language? How do we learn it? What does language reveal about our culture and identity?

These are the central questions explored by linguistics. The goal is to gain a scientific understanding of the nature of language that can be applied in many areas, such as linguistics, anthropology, speech & hearing, language teaching, computational linguistics, and cognitive science. Linguists also systematically compare human language to animal communication systems. Linguistics majors will get a thorough training in the core areas of linguistics, such as Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology and Syntax; and learn how linguists find evidence for their hypotheses and what are the cutting edge topics in the field today.

The Linguistics program is an undergraduate interdisciplinary program, offering a MAJOR and a MINOR in Linguistics. The areas of Anthropology, English, and Speech & Hearing are well represented in the program, and students majoring in any of these fields would be able to “double count” many credits toward Linguistics and their other majors. The program also includes courses from Communication, Education, Modern Languages and Psychology.

Linguists study the “nuts and bolts” of the human language in four principal domains (which are the required courses for the Major in Linguistics)

  • Phonetics is the study of the sounds produced by the human body that are used in speech.
  • Phonology is the study of the ways those sounds are combined in individual languages to form syllables and words.
  • Morphology is the study of how words are formed from smaller meaningful units called morphemes.
  • Syntax is the study of how words are combined into phrase and then into sentences following specific rules of order.

With this background in the structure of language, students can go on to tailor their LIN degree with a variety of electives that allow them to integrate their linguistic studies with other academic interests. Students may consider combining Linguistics with a second major or a minor in a cognate field, such as Anthropology, Communication, Education, English, French, Spanish, or Speech & Hearing.

Things you can do with B.A. in Linguistics:
  • Work as a translator or interpreter
  • Work in the computer industry (linguists work on speech recognition, search engines, etc.)
  • Work for the government (FBI, CIA and military hire linguists)
  • Work in education, teaching languages (English or a foreign language; in the US or abroad)
  • Work on language documentation and preservation (with organizations that work on preservation of endangered languages, such as SIL or Living Tongues)