Posted by Lisa Hannah
Linguistics is defined as the study of human language (wikipedia). A linguist is someone who studies the mechanics and structure of language. Understanding how a language functions also enables them to understand the speakers. According to The Linguistic Society of America, a fundamental aim of linguistics is to understand how the unconscious shapes our use of language; for example, how infants seem to magically acquire language and how the structure of language influences our social behaviour.
If you have a love for languages, linguistics can be fascinating to study. However, being a linguist doesn’t have to mean that you’re fluent in five languages and spend your day thumbing through dictionaries. There are various interesting career paths to choose from.
Here are just a few examples.
Many linguists decide to do an M.A or a PhD, which opens many academic doors, especially when it comes to language research. Some linguists prefer to go the teaching route and this can be achieved by doing an Applied Linguistics course. This area of study is about how students learn a language and how language can be effectively taught. Another branch of which linguists can go into is TEFL (Teaching English to Foreign Learners). There is a huge demand in non-English speaking countries for this line of work (particularly in Asia and South America), and potential employers will look favourably on a linguistics major. According to The Linguistic Society of America, a background in linguistics means that you won’t be limited to standing at the front of a classroom; you will also be involved in materials development, teacher training and research.
Marketing and the tech industry
If you have an M.A, marketers could be knocking at your door. There is a great demand for linguists to do market research, particularly data annotation and analysis. Advertisers are often on the lookout for linguists too, as they need language experts to tell them what associations people have with certain sounds or which wording will have the best effect. There could also be opportunities to work for tech companies, for example doing Natural Language Processing, speech analysis for translation software, and speech-to-text development.
Law enforcement and the military
If you want something a bit more exciting, you could always work for the police or the military. According to LinguisticMystic.com, forensic linguists are used as expert witnesses in criminal cases, for example in voice identification and language analysis (to shed insight into the speakers). Cryptologic linguists are used by the military to intercept and interpret enemy communications (Goarmy.com). Who knew linguists could be fighting crime or be involved in espionage?
Linguistics isn’t just about being a polyglot; it’s about how language shapes the human experience. It’s a science that opens many career doors – not just academic ones. Spies, police witnesses, teaching English in foreign lands and even technological development all require specialised linguistic knowledge. If you have an interest in the science of language, but aren’t sure which area you want to study, you can always do an introductory or applied course. Many of these courses are available online and can be studied part-time. This will give you a good grounding and, who knows, perhaps you’ll be intercepting coded communications on the frontlines someday.
About the author: Ang Lloyd writes on behalf Now Learning, which promotes online and classroom-based learning Down Under, including accounting, IT and education courses in Australia.
Click here to learn more about Stylewriter Software
No related posts.