Why Linguistics?

What is linguistics?

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language and includes investigation of language structure, language variation, language change, and the development of language, as well as exploration of the psychology and biology of language.  Memorial has the only linguistics department in Atlantic Canada. The department focuses on data-driven, theoretically informed inquiry into Indigenous languages, language acquisition, and language variation and change. 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 1100 Introduction to Linguistics; is a general introduction to linguistic concepts which are important for understanding the nature of language and its function for communication. Topics include: languages as structured systems; the systematicity of language change; the classification of languages into families and their geographical distribution; language, the brain, and language disorders; the acquisition of language; and human vs animal communication.
  • LING 2120 Introduction to Language Acquisition; examines critical issues in language acquisition, in light of the most central theoretical perspectives in this area of research. The course combines experimental evidence from infant speech perception with corpus data documenting speech production abilities in first language learners. Issues in second language acquisition and developmental language disorders are also discussed whenever relevant, and as part of dedicated lectures. Data from different populations of learners and across many different languages serve to illustrate the discussion, whenever relevant.
  • LING 3951 Language Endangerment and Revitalization; provides an introduction to the key issues surrounding the discussion of endangered languages. Causes, consequences, and efforts to reverse the process of decline (language revitalization or maintenance) are examined through consideration of case studies from around the world. Theoretical models developed to evaluate the current status and future prospects of endangered languages are also considered. The course is likely to include substantial discussion of the situation in Canada and the USA.

What do people with linguistics degrees do?

Catharyn Anderson holds an MA in linguistics from Memorial, and is the Vice-President (Indigenous) for Memorial University. She came 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.