Linguistics Department

Pawley Hall 450K
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2175
Fax: (248) 370-3144

Field of Linguistics

What is

One of the most remarkable aspects of the human mind is the ability to acquire and use the rich and complex system of knowledge that is language. At an age when tying one's shoelaces still presents a major challenge, virtually all children are already quite competent in the language of their environment. These observations have led to two of the primary questions confronting linguists: "What is it that humans know when they know a language?" and "How do humans acquire that knowledge?" As we begin to answer these and related questions, we find fascinating insights into the nature of human cognition.

Theoretical linguists seek to describe and explain the complexities of the human linguistic system. They have determined that, in spite of the many superficial differences across languages, all human languages have the same fundamental structure and, at the deepest levels, work in the same way. Typically, the field is broken down into the following sub-fields: phonetics (speech sound); phonology (sound structure); morphology (word structure); syntax (sentence structure); and semantics (meaning).

Careers in
A linguistics degree is an extremely marketable degree, whether your goal is to pursue further education in graduate school or to join the workforce immediately. Alumni Careers shows you the type of careers that graduates of our program now work in. The skills that the study of linguistics enhances are particularly sought after by today's employers, starting with the general benefits of a liberal arts degree.

Those who are also interested in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) can take advantage of a very unusual opportunity for undergraduates, that of teaching their own ESL class for an entire semester in our TESL Practicum. With this valuable teaching experience and the methods classes that prepare students for it, graduates can take advantage of the many opportunities to teach English in different countries abroad as well as in the U.S.

Additional Information about Careers in Linguistics: