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By on Feb. 26, 2017

She had been researching for two days , ‘’LINGUIST” the word she had typed looked right back at her dauntingly, ever since her class 12 board exams had ended she was in a fix. She had always loved language, had taken up French as her second language since her sixth grade and was always enthusiastic about learning more languages , but was that enough ? OR was Literature Hons the way to go, her research was never ending but she found that Linguistics isn’t just about studying a language, it is the study of language. All the technicalities her English teacher had quoted about phonetics comprised an entire subject in the course. Linguistics is the scientific study of language, it has been derived from Latin lingua (tongue) and istics (science or knowledge). It comprises of the structure and development of any particular human language and its relationship to other languages. It studies the human language, its sound, structure, meaning and function. It analyses language as an universal and recognisable part of human behaviour and sheds light on its description

Composition of Linguistics

The field is diverse and is a confluence of anthropology, computer science, engineering, foreign language study, neurology, philosophy, psychology, sociology and speech and hearing science to name a few.

Career Opportunities and Structure

Some linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language such as phonetics (sound), syntax (word order), semantics (meaning), pragmatics, phonology (patterning of sounds), nature of language variation (dialects), evolution and how language is processed and stored in the brain and how it is acquired by young . Researcher's specialise on computational linguistics which matches adeptly human and computer language capacity or apply linguistics which is concerned with improving language.

Some work as language experts in government advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from whom as freelance linguists. Editors, broadcasters/news readers, communication disorder specialist, copywriter, interpreter, language planner and translators have a common background of linguistics.

Is it necessary to know many languages?

Many linguists do field work collecting empirical evidence to gain insight into a specific language or languages in general. They work with speakers of different languages to discover patterns and to document the language, search databases of spoken and written language and run carefully designed experiments with children and adults in schools in the field and in university labs.

So they may be better informed if they know multiple languages but the work of a linguist actually involves learning about language rather than learning different languages.

BA Linguistics Hons (Course and Eligibility)

The course at the undergraduate level has a duration for 3 years and the eligibility is that the applicant should have pass class XII from a recognised education board in India or abroad.


It broadly consists of subjects like

  • General Linguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Classification and survey of languages
  • Indo-Aryan linguistics
  • Old Persian
  • Bengali Linguistics etc

Suitability to the Course

This course suits the people who have an ability to construct and manage an argument, work as a team, have good interpersonal and communication skills, have an enthusiastic approach to delve into deeper study of linguistics and have a love for language. The students also should have proficiency in reading, writing and speaking. Good memory, speed, accuracy, concentration are like cherry on top of the cake. Logical thinking, attention to details, adaptability and time management skills are the signs of a good linguist.

Top Colleges offering BA Linguistics in India

  • St. Stephens College, Delhi
  • Lady Shriram College for Women, Delhi
  • St. Xavier College, Mumbai
  • St. Xavier College, Kolkata
  • Hindu College, Delhi
  • Madras Christian College
  • Presidency College, Kolkata
  • Hansraj College, Delhi

Interested students can also take the modern language admission test for the undergraduate linguistics program to get admission in the university of Oxford.

Job Prospects

There are many opportunities for graduates in linguistics.

They can work in the industry as they are mentally equipped to work in speech recognition, text to speech synthesis, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, user research and computer mediated language learning among many other areas.

They can work in education and teach English all across the globe.

They can teach at university departments such as philosophy, linguistics, psychology, speech communication and sciences, anthropology, English etc.

They can work in publishing industries as translators, lexicographer, conduct field work or they can take the military or intelligence route.

They can also become actors or train actors.

They can work for the government and take up civil services examinations or proceed with higher studies and do MA and PhD.

MA in Linguistics

The MA Linguistics has a duration of 4 semesters and requires 50% marks in BA Linguistics hons course from any recognised university to get into Delhi University. There are admission tests which need to be taken and the result is to be submitted to the department before the notification of the final admission. Entrance test is tentatively in July.

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi conducts entrance exam in May. The applicant must have bachelors degree under 10+2+3 pattern of education in any discipline with at least 45% marks.

Job prospects

MA in linguistics offers a variety of jobs as research computational linguists or conference interpreters. The jobs are an extension to earlier mentioned opportunities for graduates but with a higher pay grade.

Google and big tech companies hire post graduates for natural language processing.

PhD in linguistics

For an academic career or advance research roles, it is essential to hold a PhD in linguistics. In PhD program, students are given a job as a teacher or research assistant for support. People can earn enough while getting a degree. PhD students or holders have many options.

Some agencies and institutes seek linguists to work with language consultants in order to document, analyse and revitalize languages many of which are endangered. Some organisations engage in language related field work conducting language service, establishing literacy programs and translating documents of cultural heritage.

As linguists get their PhD, they are on a higher pay grade as compared to graduates or post graduates.


The field of linguistics is multifaceted and diverse. It is a compilation of many fields and there are endless job opportunities for enthusiastic scholars who are willing to learn. It is up to the students to take the chances and take up jobs which offer them new opportunities. Most importantly, a linguist will be happy if he/she has a passion for learning and language.

After reading through various articles on Linguistics and second guessing herself , she had decided to take the plunge as she had all the attributes that was required of a Linguistics student and a love for language .

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