Why Linguistics?

What is linguistics?

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language through exploring language structure, language variation, language change, the development of language, as well as through the exploration of the psychology and biology of language. Linguistics evaluates the different facets of language, like childhood acquisition of language, the sounds of language and the ways in which social groups use language. Memorial has the only linguistics department in Atlantic Canada and it is through their data-driven, theoretically informed inquiry into aboriginal languages that they explore variation and change in language and its acquisition. Memorial is host to exceptional in-house data archives, broad library holdings and state-of-the-art labs and analytical tools.

What do linguistics students do?
What do linguistics students study? Some sample courses include:
  • LING 1105 The Wonder of Words; an introduction to the structure of words. This course presents methods of linguistic analysis through an in-depth study of English word origins. The French, Latin and Greek origins of technical and scientific words are studied, together with the ways that these words may change in structure, sound, and meaning. The course will also provide an introduction to etymology, to writing systems and transliteration, and to the use of dictionaries.
  • LING 2060 Aboriginal Languages of Eastern Canada; an overview of the aboriginal languages of three language families of Eastern Canada: Eskimo-Aleut (Inuttitut) and Algonquian (Innu-aimun, Mi'kmaq, Maliseet-Pasamaquoddy and Beothuk) and Iroquoian (Mohawk) with respect to both linguistic structure and current vitality. The course also reviews a history of language suppression and revitalization efforts, within the context of the larger issues of minority language attrition and maintenance, is also considered.
  • LING 2212 Language and Gender; explores gender, sexuality and language and their relationship to culture, power, performance, interaction, social networks, language change, and language in the school and workplace. The course introduces theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and research findings, from an early focus on gender difference to more recent work on how language helps people create and perform gender and sexuality.
What do people with linguistics degrees do?

Catharyn Anderson holds a BA in linguistics from Memorial. Currently she has been appointed as Memorial University’s special advisor to the president on Aboriginal affairs. Ms. Andersen comes to the position with significant experience working with the Nunatsiavut Government. She previously served in the roles of director and Inuktitut Language Program co-ordinator with the Torngâsok Cultural Centre in Nain, Labrador. She is a member of the Labrador Inuttitut Training Program Committee and former chair of the Nunainguk Historical Society. Ms. Andersen has also been harbour operations officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.