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infosheetlinguistics-226pxThink language, think linguistics

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Why study Linguistics?

Linguistics does not prescribe grammatical correctness. Instead it describes how people actually communicate and how this changes from one context, situation, culture, geographical domain or even one moment to another.

When you study linguistics, you will find the answers to a range of questions - How many languages are there in the world? Why and how do languages change, become endangered or die out? Why do some sentences have more than one meaning? How do new words get into a language? Why do difference people speak differently, why do they sound different and why do they use different forms of language? How do children acquire language and why do they start to speak? What does it really mean to be bilingual or bi-cultural?

Linguistics at Otago

We study communication from a range of perspectives:

  • Theoretical Linguistics - there are different areas of specialisation.
    These include phonetics (the study of speech sounds); phonology (the study of sound systems); morphology (the study of word structure); syntax (the study of how words are combined into sentences); semantics (the study of meaning); and pragmatics (the study of meaning in relation to the way language is used).
  • Applied Linguistics – covers matters involving language and individuals, language and communities, language and texts. You will learn about language teaching, language learning, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, reading cognition, cross-cultural communication.

Detailed information about Linguistics papers.

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Background required

Linguistics does not assume any prior knowledge of 'grammar' or of foreign languages. All you need is a curiosity about the nature of language and how languages work.

Career opportunities

There are many career opportunities for linguistics graduates.

The TESOL minor equips you to teach English abroad and at home in language schools and other non-state institutions. 

Previous graduates are now lawyers, editors, copy-writers, technical writers, journalists, award winning film directors and producers, translators, interpreters, sign language interpreters, languages policy makers, diplomats. You will find linguistics graduates as first language teachers, second language teachers, primary school teachers, high school teachers, speech therapists, university lecturers, polytechnic lecturers.

Linguists graduates have gone on to be newspaper reporters, editors, television producers, television reporters, software designers, actors, comedians, education policy makers, machine voice synthesisers, entrepreneurs, publishers, creative writers, science writers, marketers.