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Why Study Linguistics?

Language is involved in our every thought and action!  We use it to communicate the mundane and the profound with friends and strangers, from expressing love to asking for directions.  We use it to engage with our complex world, e.g., interpreting, convincing and being convinced, expressing who we are and what we want.  How can we understand something so central, yet intricate in nature, to our lives as human beings? 

This is where Linguistics comes in. Linguistics is the scientific study of all aspects of human language: what the rules in a language are, how children acquire language, how adults learn a second language, how language is represented in the brain, how language is produced and processed, how language expresses different meaning across different contexts and to different people, and many other questions. 

A degree in linguistics can provide you with valuable skills that you can apply to a wide range of careers, even those outside of linguistics. It develops written and verbal expression, logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Linguists go on to work in a variety of fields:  

  • Foreign language teaching
  • Teaching English
  • Foreign Service
  • Intelligence services
  • Translation and materials development for less commonly taught languages
  • Journal and newspaper editing
  • Technical writing
  • Adult literacy and education
  • Speech pathology
  • Natural language processing
  • Automated speech recognition
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Preparing and evaluating standardized testing
  • Dictionary work
  • University-level teaching and research

See the Linguistic Society of America’s web pages on linguistics as a profession and Why major in Linguistics?