About

Linguistics
Humanities Building, Room 203
651-696-6480
651-696-6428 fax

Linguistics is the study of language. As language is a complex subject matter, so is linguistics a complex discipline. Linguists study the sounds (phonetics), sound patterns (phonology), word formation processes (morphology), word-order rules (syntax) and systems of meaning (semantics) of language. The goal of this type of linguistic study is to arrive at generalizations about any human language in particular, and, through comparisons with other languages, arrive at generalizations about human language in general and the way our mind works. Though linguists may learn many languages, it is more important that they learn about the structure of languages rather than achieve fluency in several of them. This means that even a person who knows only one or two languages can still thrive in the field of linguistics.

Language can also be studied from psychological, sociological, anthropological and philosophical viewpoints. Linguists also study problems of a more practical nature such as first and second language acquisition, computerized speech production, the relationship between language and social status, and language as a persuasive force. Linguistics is by nature a complex discipline, and studying it greatly enhances a liberal arts education.