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Should I choose linguistics as a major?

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21 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
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 Message 17 of 21
22 January 2014 at 7:28pm | IP Logged 
That's not limited to the English-speaking world :-) And yeah, history or maths are an interesting background for an economist.
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 Message 18 of 21
22 January 2014 at 8:22pm | IP Logged 
Zerzura wrote:

I'm about to choose my other Bachelor of arts major (yes I know queue flipping burgers joke). I'm majoring in Russian and my other major will be Linguistics, Economics or Journalism. I'm just wondering if anyone here has any knowledge or personal experience on the Linguistics major.

So far what I am reading is that it is a very specific field that is only useful if you plan on studying a foreign language (which I am). Translating and teaching are the first careers that come to mind - that will benefit from this major. But really my impression of the infortmation on the internet is that it's only about as better as not having a major!

There is bound to be someone here that knows a thing or two about this major... if you're reading this, I want to sponge your brain for advice!

Thanks in advance!

I think that you should major in linguistics only if you have a burning desire to learn about it (bordering on the obsessional in the sense of asking yourself how likely would you think about linguistics just for fun or when you're doing something unrelated. E.g. Would you freely think about some linguistic phenomenon or replay mentally part of the latest lecture on phonology while taking a dump?)

If your goal is to become a linguist (i.e. not in the non-technical sense of just being a polyglot or in the US military's definition of someone who works mainly with languages (e.g. interpreters)), keep in mind that you don't need a bachelor's degree in linguistics. It seems that as long as you have something more or less on par with a master's degree (at minimum) in some area of linguistics (as opposed to philology of or literature in some foreign language), then you're considered a linguist. Off the top of my head, Lyle Campbell and Peter Trudgill are linguists who did their undergraduate in fields outside linguistics per se (Campbell got a BA in Archaeology, Trudgill got a BA in Modern and Medieval Languages)

You may also find it helpful to check out (in particular "Undergrad seeking advice" and "Linguistics degree and knowledge in foreign languages")

If your choices for the second major were down to those three choices, and you're equally indifferent to them, I'd consider economics, but read a lot about linguistics and learn languages outside class. Economics like linguistics is quite broad and not as quantitative as is sometimes pushed nowadays so as to lend some air of "legitimacy", objectivity or precision on par with physics or mathematics. There are also environmental economics, demographic economics, industrial organization, public economics, history of economics, etc.
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 Message 19 of 21
23 January 2014 at 12:25am | IP Logged 
I'm a linguistics major, and I love it, but I wouldn't really recommend it. For one thing, it is a very accessible field of knowledge outside of school. If you want, I can give you a list of all the textbooks I've used and you can buy them all for far less than a semester's tuition. Secondly, if you want a "useful major" (meaning a salary that will be high enough to compensate for the cost of college, and the 4 years lost saving money for retirement), then there are really only a handful of choices, and linguistics isn't one of them. But, if you go to school for the love of knowledge, like me, then linguistics is a fine choice.

EDIT: Typed acceptable instead of accessible.

Edited by MixedUpCody on 23 January 2014 at 1:55am

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 Message 20 of 21
23 January 2014 at 4:28am | IP Logged 
If you're interested in technology as well (and from the way things are going it looks like we all ought to be learning programming), there's actually a lot of lucrative stuff you can do with certain fields in linguistics that don't involve going into academia. In studying Irish I've actually encountered a few people with a background in linguistics who are now working or have worked for high tech companies including Google and Apple. Automated translation, for example, is only going to expand and would have a demand for computational linguists. It's not my field so I have no idea if this is totally comprehensive but here are some links that will give you an idea of other things you can do with linguistics study:

Computational Linguistics Careers
Computational Linguistics Wikipedia Overview
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 Message 21 of 21
23 January 2014 at 8:00am | IP Logged 
I realized that I am doing four courses per semester, not just my majors (took my brain a while to proccess that for some reason). Linguistics doesn't sound so appealing, seems very limited and not "worth it", even though I can still do it as an elective but I probably won't.

I could go hard and do the intro courses of French or German as electives for this year, I guess, but I'd rather nail Russian than be ordinary at it. You guys have given me so much information, it's great to get some intelligent input on this matter. Thanks so much!

So I'm half tempted to try doing the introductory German course this semester, it is a risk I can take! Or I guess I could try anything else, there is so much to choose from!

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