Linguist / Translator
— Benjamin Lee Whorf, American Linguist
noted for his hypotheses regarding the relation of language to thinking and cognition.
What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of languages. Linguistics deals with the structure and development of particular language and its relationship to other languages. It is the study not of one particular language but of human language in general. There are mainly two broad divisions of linguistics: theoretical linguistics and applied linguistics.
While theoretical linguistics is divided into many separate areas like: Phonetics, the study of different sounds that are employed across all human languages; Phonology, the study of patterns of a language’s basic sounds; Morphology, the study of the internal structure of words; Syntax, the study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences; Semantics, the study of the meaning of words, and how these words combine to form grammatical sentences; Stylistics, the study of style in languages; Pragmatics, the study of how utterances are used (figuratively, literally or otherwise) in communicative acts.
Applied linguistics covers the area of language teaching and the areas of speech synthesis, speech recognition and speech/language pathology as well. Thus, one can use linguistics to provide voice interface for computers, voice recognition etc.
Who is a Linguist?
A Linguist is someone who studies and works with language, or specific languages. Sometimes they combine words from many languages to form a new language which people from many countries can follow. For example: Esperanto is a language made from combining the words from different European languages.
Sometimes, linguists work with computer specialists to create voice interfaces with computers, and look for ways to make computers respond to voice commands.
Sometimes, they learn many languages and teach others.
Psycholinguists undertake psychological study of language learning.
Bio-linguists study anatomical and physiological foundations of the spoken language, Including development of the language.
Neuro-linguists study brain functioning involved in comprehension, abstract thinking and language production.
Socio-linguists study mans' role in relation to languages, i.e, the correlation between social groups based on language, linguistic customs etc. It also covers linguistic aspects of small group interaction, conformity, structural hierarchy etc.
Ethno-linguistics focuses on the study of mans' customs as shown by language. It is used for film making, copy-writing, therapy of the speech handicapped.
Basically, linguists are a specialist in language and usually employ the language skills to earn money. There are formal courses, degrees and diplomas which recognized universities offer to budding linguists. Most of the linguists work as translators, as content creators for education industry, or language specialists with multinational companies, government's foreign office, embassies etc.