Studies & Degrees in Philology and Linguistics
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Taken together, philology and linguistics refers to the academic study of languages. In particular, it usually means taking up questions about general linguistic structures such as grammar, semantics, and syntax. The difference between philology and linguistics varies somewhat depending on what country you are in, but in the English-speaking world the term philology is seldom used anymore. It usually refers to a historic study of classical languages such as Greek and Latin, whereas linguistics refers to the application of the scientific method to the study of languages. In addition, philology office includes the study of literature and poetry written in the language in question, and linguistics usually does not. Philology was once an important field, but it has now been almost entirely taken over by linguistics.
- A great love of foreign languages
- Strong command of your native language, including grammar and etymology
- Analytic thinking and familiarity with scientific method is a plus
The field of linguistics includes numerous subfields such as psycholinguistics (the intersection of psychology and linguistics), computational linguistics (which uses computers to model linguistic structures), and comparative linguistics, as well as many others. It is also possible to specialize in a particular language family. For example, a linguist might specialize in the Romance languages and work primarily on languages such as Italian, French, and Spanish. Other linguists contrast languages from different families–they might take a comparative look at the differences between Arabic and Chinese, for example.
Because of the high value placed on language skills in the modern job market, a degree in linguistics can lead to a number of exciting career opportunities. The most common, of course, is to become a language instructor. It is well known among people in this field that linguists, with their superior knowledge of the underlying structures of language, make better teachers than people who simply speak the language in question. Linguists typically speak multiple languages, so jobs as a translator or interpreter are also available. Finally, linguistics is also an active academic field, so if your interest in linguistics runs deep enough to get a PhD, a career in academia might be the right option for you.