Why linguistics matters
When it comes to University courses some students opt out for “the real thing” which, in their opinion, is more related to something they want to do in their future profession. Today I would like to speak about linguistics and why it is the real thing.
Regardless of what profession a student chooses one thing is certain: communication is going to be the basis of it. Consequently, good communication yields good fruits in any profession or activity; poor communication may result in a less positive outcome. Thus, communication is the key. What area of science studies communication? Various aspects of communication and communication-related topics are covered by linguistics.
When one speaks about linguistics one may think that linguistics is all about sounds, letters, grammar, and tribal languages. However, linguistics is much more diverse. Applied linguistics, for instance covers such areas as
- teaching and learning foreign languages
- developing online dictionaries
- designing spellcheckers for browsers and other software applications
- improving communicative efficiency of websites
- communicating more effectively using nonverbal means of communication, etc.
Theoretical linguistics, for instance, focuses on such areas as:
- meaning of words
- the origin of languages and how they are interrelated
- structure of languages
- phonemic composition of a language
- how meaning works in communication (see for example SPEAKING model and Speech act theory), etc.
Another linguistic question that fascinates some linguists is how language can influence the way we think. This is called the theory of linguistic relativity.
Linguistics has to do with so many practical tasks we do in our everyday life, work, and commerce. Therefore, when students consider taking a course in linguistics, I want them to stay assured that they are going to be doing the real thing, but I also want them to make an educated choice concerning what area of linguistics they would like to study and this post with the related links may be of help.
For those, who have to take linguistics as a part of their university program (as a core curriculum course in their classical education), I would like to draw their attention that besides expanding their horizons as an educated person, this course may also help to solve practical tasks such choosing more effective approaches to solving job-related tasks, becoming better public speakers and interpersonal communicators, and mastering foreign languages.
In summary, linguistics is a unique science which includes various areas dealing with various language and communication-related questions. Similar to any other science, it can help to solve concrete practical tasks besides contributing to theory. When a student considers taking a course in linguistics, the choice should be educated. This post has shown how diverse linguistics is and provided a few links to find out more about how linguistics is defined, its structure, and some of the questions addressed by this amazing discipline.
The following post is going to address the question of how linguistics can help in space exploration.