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Is A Degree In Linguistics Right For You?

In the process of perusing course catalogues and reading page after page of major descriptions, linguistics has found itself on your list of potential degree programs. But perhaps you’re still not 100% sure that linguistics is the major for you. You could make a list of pros and cons, you could ask your friends for their advice, you could do Google searches until you’ve got early onset arthritis. At the end of the day, however, you are the one who needs to feel that linguistics fits you and your dreams and passions – and we’re here to help you ask yourself the right questions.

Do you love words?

You’re a voracious reader, and you have a more than ample vocabulary to prove it. You like debating word pronunciation or the origin of a slang terminology with peers. You might’ve read the dictionary for fun as a child. In linguistics, you’ll study how and why we use the vernacular that we use in present day. You’ll discover how our words have developed and evolved over time. You’ll get to research where new words come from and how as children our spoken vocabulary develops faster than anything else. Many linguists, in the most traditional sense of this field of work, spend a significant amount of their time:

  • investigating a specific language
  • collecting evidence and performing experiments
  • documenting a language
  • discovering new findings about a language
  • understanding how languages developed

If words are your passion, you’re in the right place...

Do you love language?

You’ve always loved watching foreign films in their native tongue, because you feel that hearing other languages spoken is an art form in and of itself, and it intrigues you. You’ve been studying at least one foreign language from a young age, and now in the age of the smartphone, you can’t get enough of new language learning apps to further your knowledge or help you learn yet another foreign language. While being a linguist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a polyglot, many linguists are. From interpreting and translating to saving an endangered language, a love of language and a degree in linguistics perfectly complement a large number of career paths.

Do you love to travel?

You value saving up for experiences instead of material possessions. You love scrolling through photos of other people’s vacations, imagining your own future trips. You’ve been dreaming of studying abroad even before you started looking at schools. A perfect way to travel and work abroad simultaneously is through English as a Second Language, or ESL. ESL is a branch of linguistics that prepares you to teach English to non-native speakers, and the number of ESL opportunities available in the world is astoundingly large. Pick a country, any country, and there is sure to be a need for native English speakers to teach ESL to anyone from toddlers to adults to businesses.

Do you love capturing people’s attention?

You are constantly bringing up print or television advertisements you saw recently, talking about how clever they were or what you thought could’ve been executed better. A degree in linguistics gives you the tools to tap into the public’s mind, teaching you skills like how and why we communicate the way we do and why we respond to certain words and phrases. In advertising, media and mass communication and public relations, the ability to provoke a reaction in people is quintessential, and your linguistics knowledge will be crucial to developing that subconscious response.

Do you love creative expression?

You hardly ever lift your nose up from a fiction novel or a book of poetry. The artful way in which authors and poets craft words together is enthralling to you. When you’ve learned the way the English was formed – where the words, phrases, sentence structure and diction we have came from – you, too, could be one of those talented authors or poets. Linguistics is the glue that binds your love of written art to your ability to understand it and write it yourself, providing you with the capability to start working on your own publications.

Do you love technology?

Your smartphone or tablet is your fifth appendage. You love downloading new applications. If you’re not playing around with the latest and greatest of the app store, you’re surfing the web, reading online articles or checking your social media pages. A perhaps little known fact is that people with linguistics degrees are great candidates for technology companies. Linguists comprehend how and why we interact not only as normal people in our day-to-day lives, but also in how and why we respond the way we do to businesses and through online communication. They help improve how we utilize websites and applications, strengthening our online relationships, professionally and personally.

Do you love fighting for other people’s rights?

You love a good word war, arguing your point and winning the votes or opinions of others. You have your own blog where you can sound off on the latest controversy, or you just can’t help yourself from sending off Op-Ed columns to your school’s newspaper. You’ve always been an independent person, ever since you were little, and it was your family’s inside joke that you’d always grow-up to be a lawyer or a politician. A degree in linguistics will provide you with a hyper-understanding of the English language, helping you communicate effectively and convincingly. Whether in a courtroom or a political office, you could take on the battle of fighting for other’s people’s rights through creating new laws or pleading the case of your client.

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