What can you do with Linguistics?

Why major in linguistics?

Think you might be interested in Linguistics?

Try taking CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics, and find out!

An introductory linguistics textbook, the Language Files, includes a chapter on what you can do with linguistics, including sections with information about:

    Language Education
    Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
    Language and the Law
    Language in Advertising
    Codes and Code-Breaking

and (last but not least):

    Being a Linguist

From CNN: 10 uncommon/overlooked majors and the jobs you can get

Coming in at number 2:

2. Linguistics

Linguistics majors study language -- its structure, how it's acquired, how people use it, its history, etc. As globalization continues as an emerging trend in business, those with a linguistics background will become more valued in several fields.

Related careers: Anthropologists, archaeologists, computer scientists, interpreters, linguists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, translators, marketing

From the Linguistic Society of America

Consider the following statement taken from a publication on Linguistics in the Undergraduate Curriculum distributed by the Linguistic Society of America (M. Ohala and A. Zwicky, Using Existing Resources to Develop an Undergraduate Linguistics Major):

(a) A B.A. in linguistics provides a broad liberal arts education emphasizing the study of language, treating language both as a fundamental human faculty and as a changing social institution. (Linguistics is the discipline that encompasses all areas related to the scientific study of the nature, structure, and function of language.)

(b) Such a degree would also provide a pre-professional major for certain fields. Linguistics has been recognized as a valuable pre-professional major, for example, for law, not only because it is methodologically varied, employs rigorous means of analysis, and develops critical thinking, but also because linguistics has contributed to: the evaluation of voice-print evidence, interpreting the complex language of statutes and contracts, analyzing ambiguity and presuppositions (e.g., in testimony or in cross-examination), elucidation of attitudes toward language, and attempting to interpret and make uniform different states' laws covering the same area.

(c) It also provides preparation for advanced study in fields such as Anthropology, Business, Communications, Computer Science, Education (Language Arts and Language teaching), Journalism, Neurosciences (for the study of, e.g., dyslexia and aphasia), Speech and Hearing Sciences, Philosophy, and Psychology.

(d) Along with preparing students for further study in areas mentioned under (c), the major would also prepare students for careers in fields where the knowledge of linguistics has proven essential. We give just a couple of examples here (...).

--Second language teaching in general and teaching English as a second language (TESL) in particular.

Communication between humans and machine using natural (including spoken) language (a task central to artificial intelligence and robotics). Jobs for linguistics majors could involve the following types of tasks: Evaluation, selection, implementation, and training of others in use of commercially available linguistic tools for word processing, e.g., spelling checkers/correctors, grammar/style checkers; using and training others to use commercially available speech processing devices, including text-to-speech synthesis, automatic speech recognition systems; constructing dictionaries, and glossaries for specialized purposes; translating experts' statements into LISP statements for expert systems; computer aids for the disabled (blind, paralyzed, deaf).

A B.A. in linguistics serves, as does any liberal arts degree, to qualify a graduate for sales and management training programs in business and industry. Students with this degree compete favorably with those from other humanities and social science disciplines for entry-level positions in public relations, commerce (e.g. banking), publishing (e.g., editing, lexicography), and other fields requiring analytical, communication, and research skills, e.g., technical writing, translation, government and non-profit language research organizations, social service groups.

Real World Applications

See what the Wall Street Journal has to say.

Bottom Line

An undergraduate linguistics major is good preparation for a wide variety of jobs and for continued study in many related disciplines.