Middlebury

 

Linguistics can be broadly described as the study of language.

It is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that provides a framework for the understanding of all aspects of language, ranging from the theoretical and structural to the sociological and applied.

Linguists employ a wide variety of tools to analyze language at the phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic levels. They also examine language as a universal aspect of human behavior and thinking, the place of language in human life, and the ways in which language functions in society to fulfill the needs of the people who use it.

This interdisciplinary field encompasses language in all its different forms and manifestations around the world, spanning geographical, historical, and sociological divides, and providing a link between the humanities, the social sciences, education and the natural sciences. The different disciplines within linguistics—theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology and applied linguistics, among others—provide a solid foundation for the study of languages and cultures.

Sociolinguistics researchers (and/or linguistic anthropologists) may work to preserve dying languages, study the relationships between languages, both extant and extinct, or act as consultants for programs and policies in education or other sectors (e.g., bilingual education, language policy, language rights, etc.). Computational linguists work on projects such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text applications, voice recognition, automatic translation, information retrieval, e-learning, etc. Applied linguists often focus on Second Language Acquisition, especially the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Further areas of specialization include translation, sign language, speech pathology, forensic linguistics, media analysis, and many others.