Column: Linguistics at USCA would add to the scope of liberal arts
What is linguistics and why are opportunities to study this field important at a liberal arts university?
USC Aiken, as a liberal arts university, presents students with a range of academic opportunity. Minors such as Art History, Creative Writing and Philosophy are popular among students. As an English major, I have chosen to pursue a Linguistics cognate and plan to attend graduate school to study linguistics as well.
What is linguistics? The Linguistic Society of America defines the field as the scientific study of language. A concise description of these studies is, “the unconscious knowledge that humans have about language, how children acquire language, the structure of language in general and of particular languages, how languages vary and how language influences the way in which we interact with each other and think about the world.”
Yes, many linguists are multi-lingual. However, the research and categories of linguistics are much more extensive than learning multiple languages. For example, linguists study phonology, which is the study of the sounds of speech, i.e., why we form and remember words in our native language and do not understand words in foreign languages we have not studied.
Linguists seek answers to questions such as, “Why do we write academic works and text messages differently?” Research following this question would fall under the category of applied linguistics. The medical field utilized linguistics as well, to determine the root causes of issues such as changes in language patterns following a stroke or other health issues.
Teaching English to non-English speakers (TESOL) and the general teaching of linguistics in an academic environment are only the beginning of opportunities present to an individual with a degree in this field.
Professions such as forensic linguistics, artificial intelligence, machine translation, translation and interpretation, cryptology, speech pathology, neurocommunicative science, cognitive sciences and language disorders are all available opportunities for a linguistics graduate.
Linguistics encompasses the science, psychology, and philosophy of language. Fields of linguistic study and employment vary based on the nature of the concentration, typically within one of the three preceding categories.
At USCA, linguistics would notably add to the scope of liberal arts studies. USCA offers wonderful education and post-graduation employment opportunities and is renown for academic quality. This field of study would only benefit students and the university’s reputation. Unfortunately, there is currently limited staff and funding to implement a new program. In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Eric Carlson is the main faculty for linguistic studies.
In coming semesters, linguistics classes may be offered as humanities credits. As one who is passionate about this field of study, I desire to see the implementation of a major or minor in this field at USCA in the future.