Linguistics is a major that is dedicated to the scientific study of language and its applications. Within this major, students can specialise in a range of different areas within two dedicated streams: Linguistics and applied linguistics and English as an international language.
Linguistics and applied linguistics involves the study of language, its structure, its diversity and its use. It provides tools for the analysis and description of any given language, and examines how languages differ and what they have in common. Through linguistic analysis we explore identity construction, social and cultural organisation, variation and change, and multilingualism, as well as language patterns in texts and discourses. Knowledge of linguistics is central to the study of languages and is a valuable adjunct to studies in anthropology, education, philosophy, sociology, psychology, law, translation studies and computer science.
English as an international language (EIL) is a newly established area of study. It offers a new perspective on the use of English in today's globalised world. The EIL stream examines the different Englishes in the world, and the implications of the global spread of the English language for intercultural communication. It also enables students to reflect critically on their experiences of using English in a variety of contexts, and to develop a high level of understanding of the ideology behind the use of English in both local and global contexts.
The level 1 units of the linguistics major introduce students to the nature of language in all its aspects, including its structure and diversity, how it changes and evolves, how people acquire it and use it to communicate. These areas involve phonetics (the production and representation of speech sounds), phonology (the organisation of sounds in a language), morphology (the structures of words), syntax (the organisation of words in sentences), semantics and pragmatics (the analysis of meaning), historical linguistics (language change) and sociolinguistics (language variation and use) with explicit references to the English language and other languages.
In later years, these areas are developed further and options are available to investigate Aboriginal languages, Austronesian languages, literacies and the structure of English, varieties of English (e.g., world Englishes), digital literacies, discourse analysis, language and identity, language change, psycholinguistics, cultural linguistics, first and second language acquisition, intercultural communication, endangered languages, and intercultural competence.
The linguistics major also offers a fourth-year honours program which combines coursework and a 24-point research thesis as the foundation for postgraduate research degrees.
Students who major in linguistics are encouraged to gain the experience of learning a language other than their first language either through a major or minor. You may also apply to study linguistics and English language overseas.
In addition to achieving the broad outcomes of their course, students successfully completing this major will be able to:
- use the key tools of linguistic analysis to explore the structures of spoken and written texts in familiar and unfamiliar languages
- apply linguistic knowledge to problems in the world including the role of language in social processes and effective communication across cultures.
- gain advanced knowledge of different varieties of English in the global context
- develop a critical understanding of the complexity of the language-culture-identity relationship in intercultural communication
- develop cultural and linguistic sensitivity towards speakers from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and appreciate the diversity of cultural values and worldviews reflected in different varieties of English and different languages more broadly.