Linguistics is the study of language. Studying language enables us to understand the ways in which people encode their experience, communicate their sense of the world, transmit knowledge, and interact with each other.
Linguistics investigates the range of patterning found in systems of sound, structure, and meaning in languages. The goal of linguistic study is both specific and general: Linguists attempt to describe the structure of specific languages in order to generate theories about universal characteristics of human language and to gain insight into the functioning of the human mind. Although linguistics is not the study of any particular language or language family, knowledge of or familiarity with particular languages informs the understanding of the possibilities of linguistic form and meaning.
Subdisciplines within the field focus on such issues as the history of a language or language family; cultural assumptions coded in words and texts; language variation within a community based on region, gender, class, race/ethnicity; and language acquisition and language teaching. The concentration in linguistics acquaints students with theories of language, techniques of linguistic analysis, and applications of linguistic knowledge and method to cultural, social, and pedagogical issues. Courses that are included in the concentration focus on topics in theoretical linguistics; philosophy of the mind; historical linguistics; analysis of language in its social, cultural, and political contexts; and the practical application of linguistic findings in teaching language and in the acquisition of native and foreign languages. The linguistics concentration is ideally complemented by existing courses in foreign languages, anthropology, sociology, and literature like American studies, Asian studies, creative writing, cross-cultural relations, European studies, French and Francophone studies, German studies, literary studies, Russian studies, and Spanish and Latin American studies.
Students with a concentration in linguistics may enter into fields and positions such as information technology, publishing, editing, speech pathology, research, interpretation, translation, computer programming, and advertising.
The linguistics concentration prepares students for advanced work in languages and in linguistics. Through their coursework, students will become familiar with the research methodologies and analytic techniques central to the discipline. These include both work within descriptive and theoretical linguistics as well as work in sociolinguistics to understand language production and interpretation as embedded in sociocultural contexts and meanings. Students concentrating in linguistics may devise a program of study that might include intermediate and advanced language courses, studies in anthropology or sociology that would complement the sociocultural analysis of language use, or work in psychology and cognition. Additional relevant programs of study can be discussed at Moderation to respond to specific student interests.