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Linguistics

Submitted by darmstro on Sat, 12/03/2016 - 12:24pm

Programs

Linguists ask questions such as: How do languages change? Why are certain words controversial? How do you learn a language, both as a child, and as an adult?

Linguistics is the scientific study of language as a universal human phenomenon. This program will give you the opportunity to analyze the structure of various languages and apply this knowledge in a variety of sub-fields and languages. During the course of your studies, you'll gain creative thinking skills, research and analytical capabilities, written and verbal communication skills, and cross-disciplinary understandings.

Students interested in linguistics can choose to graduate with either a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree (co-operative education option also available), or a minor. Majors in the program may also choose to minor in speech language sciences or complete a concentration in applied linguistics or speech language sciences.

Why study linguistics?

When you talk to your phone, and it talks back to you, that’s an application of linguistics. When people notice “about” sounds different in Canada, linguistics can explain why. All across the world, kids learn language without ever opening a textbook. Linguistics can shed light on how that happens.

As Noam Chomsky states in Language and Mind, “When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the ‘human essence’, the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man.” Linguistics is the scientific study of language as a universal human phenomenon.

Language is a perpetually renewable resource

As long as people keep talking and writing, and languages continue to change and evolve, there will always be a need for linguists to study how and why people speak the way they do, and to fine-tune the communicative technologies of the future.

Language is also used throughout our lives as a diagnostic tool for everything from early learning disabilities in childhood to dementia in old age. The accuracy of these diagnoses is only as good as our understanding of linguistic processing; with languages changing and multilingualism becoming more and more common, up-to-date models of how language is processed in the mind will always be in demand.

Download our brochure (PDF).

A unique place to study

Analyze the structure of various languages and apply this knowledge in a variety of sub-fields.

These sub-fields range from phonetics, the study of the production and perception of sound, through to semantics, the analysis of how words and sentences combine to form meaning.

In between are the areas of phonology, morphology, and syntax, which deal with patterns of sounds, the internal structure of words, and the construction of those words into sentences.

During the course of your studies, you will gain creative thinking skills, research and analytical capabilities, written and verbal communication skills, and cross-disciplinary understandings.

Faculty members in our program make use of a wide variety of research methods, from in-person fieldwork with First Nations elders, to the analysis of large volumes of texts looking for language patterns, to experimental investigation of real-time language processing using eye tracking technology and EEG.

Not only will you gain the experience needed to accurately describe linguistic phenomena, but you will learn how data is collected and analyzed, and see how that data is used to shape cognitive models of how language is processed in the brain.

In close association with the Language Research Centre , our faculty engage in research to study how language is perceived, acquired, and changes over time. In particular, many of our faculty are interested in questions around the acquisition of language by children as well as the acquisition of a second language by adults, and the study of multilingual communities. In addition, our faculty are interested in variations that occur within a community, be they the result of historical change over generations, geographic variation, or the result of more recent contact between groups in an increasingly globalized world.

Enhance your degree

Put your education to work

You will gain a specialized knowledge of how language works, its structure, how it's acquired, how people use it and its history. The ability to analyze the structure of language can be carried into any professional setting.

Our graduates are able to find jobs in areas such as academia, civil service, the health care industry, the non-profit sector, and media, in positions that include: communications specialist, editor, foreign intelligence agent, speech writer, media/public relations advisor, speech software application designer, voice coach, language consultant, audiologist, proof-reader, writer, terminologist and publisher. In addition, linguistics provides the foundational training for students pursuing careers in the areas of speech-language pathology, language teaching and other areas of applied linguistics.

For more information on potential career options, please visit: Career Services Degree Profiles Linguistics