Linguistics, or the systematic study of language, is both an academic discipline and a field of science that is almost three thousand years old. Modern linguists primarily concern themselves with either theoretical or applied linguistics. Their research includes many different facets of language, from the physical properties of the sound waves of utterances to the social contexts in which conversations occur.

Studying linguistics

Language as a Formal System

Language structure can be studied at various levels. Phonology, or the study of sounds in a language, deals with the basic utterances in speech. It can be investigated by observing which physical properties of the vocal tract (including the lips and tongue) are used to make linguistic distinctions. Morphology includes the study of the internal structure of words and phrases, such as their stems and affixes. With syntax, one could explore the rules of a spoken sentence structure and how it compares to the "proper" grammar that is taught in schools. 

Apart from the study of sound and structure, linguists seek to specify the meaning behind words and combinations of words. This investigation is known as semantics. Semanticists also compare the meanings of these combinations when they interact with contextual information, a subfield known as pragmatics


If you are interested in more information about studying linguistics, please explore the links below:

"Why Major in Linguistics?" (PDF) - a pamphlet outlining the field, expected coursework, and potential professional opportunities with a degree in linguistics.

Annual Report on the State of Linguistics in Higher Education - an annual reported commission by LSA detailing information about trends in the field of linguistics.

Directory of Linguistics Departments and Programs - a collection of universities, colleges and other institutions with notable linguistics programs, including those granting graduate degrees in linguistics. 

"The Domain of Linguistics"  - a series first published by the Linguistic Society of America in 1982. It was written to explain the discipline to the general public, and was facilitated by a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

More articles in the Domain of Linguistics