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Seven Reasons to Study Linguistics

Although you probably didn't study Linguistics at A-Level, the chances are that you've already studied some of the underlying principles of it in English classes at school. The concepts of rhetoric and using language for effect are covered in GCSE and A-Level English courses, and they form the foundation of some areas of Linguistics. If you're undecided about whether it's the subject for you, here's seven reasons to study Linguistics at university:

Noam Chomsky, one of the world's most
respected academics, began as a linguist

1. The chance to learn something new

Linguistics is, as mentioned, a subject that will be new to most students taking it at university. However rather than being an issue, this should be viewed as a fantastic opportunity to expand your knowledge. Linguistics looks at language in a way that you've never done before, and if A-Level English left you wanting to go into greater depth, then a Linguistics degree is for you.

2. Variety is the spice of life

The field of Linguistics is incredibly varied, and as such, no two modules will be the same. While the study of syntax requires a more mathematical, scientific approach, semantics classes demand a philosophical mindset. Phonetics, phonology, sociolinguistics and morphology will all focus on different aspects of Linguistics, and all require a slightly different skillset. If you find one area of Linguistics more difficult, or less interesting, then you can choose modules that suit your preferences. The choice is yours.

3. Opportunities to study abroad

The beauty of speech is that although every country in the world uses it, most have a different language. As you may already know from studying a foreign language at school, not all languages have the same grammatical structure as English. Verbs and pronouns, for example, can appear in different orders, as can the way in which plural nouns are presented. The variation in language is almost endless, and languages get FAR more varied and interesting than those that you learned at school. Many linguistics courses exploit this and allow you study in countries all over the world, examining another language first-hand.

4. Noam Chomsky started as a linguist

If somebody asked you to name some respected academics, chances are you'd go for the likes of Einstein and Newton. In the modern era, however, one of the world's most notable academics is not a physicist or a chemist, but a linguist. In 2005, readers of Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines ranked Noam Chomsky above the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as the number 1 public intellectual in the world. Often described as "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky began as a linguist and has since become a prominent figure in philosophy, psychology, logic and political commentary.

5. Exciting career opportunities

To a layman, a degree in Linguistics is just the same as a degree in English. Those same people will often also say that a degree in English means that you're going to become a teacher or a writer. While teaching and writing are both excellent careers that a Linguistics degree that can lead to, the list of potential professions is far longer and more varied than that. Among the possible future careers that you may not have thought of are Forensic Linguist, Speech Therapist and Social Worker.

6. Transferrable skills

As with many degrees, few jobs will specifically require applicants to have a degree in Linguistics. However, the skills acquired during a Linguistics degree are highly desirable to employers. Unsurprisingly for a language-based subject, a degree in Linguistics will tell interviewers that you are an excellent written and verbal communicator with a good grasp of how to use language for effect. Linguistics will also teach you how to conduct research and, given that you may be handling data, how to be analytic and present results.

7. Combined honours

Of all the subjects that you can study at university, Linguistics is one of the best for those looking to study a combined honours degree. As the study of Linguistics can be applied to any language, it is a perfect candidate to form a joint honours degree with a language course – be that English or a foreign language. Linguistics is also commonly offered as part of a joint honours degree with other social sciences such as Philosophy. At postgraduate level, the opportunities are even greater, with subjects such as Computer Science available to study alongside Linguistics.