Studying Linguistics: So much more than words and sentences!
As we’re in the midst of our Easter vacation, I am suddenly realising that I have now finished learning everything in my degree! I am in my third and final year of my English Language and Linguistics degree, and now that term 2 is complete, all that is left are assignments and exams! While I try to wrap my head around the fact that I am so close to the end of my undergraduate degree, I thought I’d share some reflections about my time studying in the Centre for Applied Linguistics at Warwick, and the valuable tools this degree has provided me with, going into the future.
The importance (and inevitability) of critical thinking: Throughout my degree, we have been encouraged to unpack absolutely EVERYTHING we come across – from news articles, academic literature, real life linguistic data such as interview transcripts (…). Basically, I have learnt that nothing is ever produced in an isolable vacuum, and that language and its surrounding societal context are always working hand in hand.
The opportunity to create new knowledge: Studying English Language and Linguistics has involved numerous independently carried out research projects. In fact, I can probably count the traditional essay-based assignments on one or two hands, throughout my entire three years. This means that we are constantly encouraged to display our own thinking on important topics, gather new primary data and analyse it, and make a really valuable contribution to social science research.
And with this, the chance to create real change in the world: As a result of many of our assignments being independently data driven, for example, conducting interviews with people experiencing societal issues, or creating a corpus of news articles and analysing how they show bias and thus influence the publics’ thinking, we tackle real world, linguistics-based issues.
Finally… how language is so much more than just words and sentences!: Yes, the core of linguistics includes the components of what makes up a language – phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, sentences (…). But, English Language and Linguistics has alerted me to how these features of language, when used in writing or speech, are produced in specific societal contexts, with different audiences and communication goals in mind. Language is rarely ever, ‘just language’. Language can be affected by our gender, our age, our cultural background. Language can develop at differing rates due to speech and language issues in childhood, we can develop more than one language from birth, people can manipulate their language to gain power, or people can succumb to the effects of language and lose power.
All in all, then, I feel incredibly lucky to have spent such an amazing three years studying English Language and Linguistics at Warwick. The research, communication, teamwork-based and so many more skills that I have acquired while studying real world linguistics issues has made me see the society that I live in, differently. If you have any questions about Linguistics at Warwick, please do feel free to reach out! 🙂