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University of Pittsburgh


Undergraduate student in class

An undergraduate student demonstrates syntactic trees in classroom.

About Linguistics

Linguists are people who learn foreign languages, right?

Well, yes and no. While many linguists do learn other languages as part of their work, the field of linguistics is broader.

Linguists investigate the ways that languages are created, taught, and changed, and how the human brain processes written and spoken words. They study the individual sounds of speech (phonetics and phonology), the words created from those sounds (morphology), the meaning assigned to the words (semantics), and the sentences formed by the words (syntax).

What Can I Do with a Major or Minor?

A major or minor in linguistics has many applications. You might work as a translator or interpreter, or as someone who verifies that translations of important documents correctly capture the meanings of the originals. You might work on computer programs designed to understand and respond to human speech. You might teach language, evaluate the quality of tests, or help police understand the hidden meanings in documents or recordings.

In other words, there’s a world of opportunities available to undergraduates in the Department of Linguistics—and we think that’s saying a lot.