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What is Linguistics? - click to view/hide
Language is the principal means by which human beings express thoughts and emotions. It is an obvious and important window through which human beings can try to understand themselves and to learn about the brain and the mind. In Linguistics we study the properties of languages and in so doing, investigate what all human beings know when they know a language, what the nature of Language is, and in what ways language varieties, and thus language users, are similar and different.
Linguists study many different aspects of Language and languages:
Phonetics examines and classifies the types of sounds found only in human languages, how the vocal tract is used to create these sounds, and what the physical and acoustic properties of these sounds are.
Phonology focuses on the inventories of sounds found in languages, asking what kinds of sounds have similar properties, how sounds can change in different contexts, how sounds are used to distinguish meaning, and what kinds of limits there are on the combinations of sounds in words.
Morphology considers how words are formed, what the smallest meaningful units of language are, and what the internal structure of words is.
How words are put together to form sentences is the principal focus of Syntax, which examines the properties of words that determine their role in sentences, the relations between different elements of sentences, and what kind of meaning is conveyed by sentence structure itself.
Semantics focuses on how language conveys meaning in words and their components, in relations between and among words, in sentences and their structures, and in discourse patterns.
In addition to these core subdisciplines, there are other areas of Linguistics. Sociolinguistics studies the way language is used by speakers, the different dialects of languages, and how and why different social contexts, such as gender or class differences, affect language use.
Psycholinguistics examines how cognition and language are related, how we produce and understand spoken and written language, how children and adults acquire a language, and what kinds of pathologies affect language use.
Anthropological Linguistics focuses on the relation between language and culture, to what extent language affects our view of the world, and to what extent our culture shapes the language that we use.
Historical Linguistics considers how and why languages change through time, what the origin of language might be, and how to reconstruct languages which are no longer living.
Applied Linguistics considers how linguistics can be used to contribute to the teaching and learning of languages. Click here for more Applied Linguistics information pages.
What can I do with a degree in Linguistics? - click to view/hide
All university programs teach you how to learn, how to do research, and how to use your mind. Linguistics focuses on teaching you how to think analytically by requiring you to analyze language data, to form and test hypotheses, and to present your analyses in a clear format, providing evidence and arguments to support them. These kinds of analytical and presentational skills are invaluable for any kind of career that you might wish to follow: they make you more promotable in your career.
An undergraduate degree in Linguistics also prepares you for a number of specialized career paths. These include teaching English and other languages as second languages, doing educational research, developing language programs (for instance, for First Nations Communities), literacy work, Speech Pathology and Audiology, developing and editing dictionaries, translation and interpretation, editing and professional writing, computer programming, developing telecommunication and other systems involving speech technology, and graduate studies leading to teaching and research at colleges or universities.
What programs does the UVic Linguistics Department offer? - click to view/hide
Our Linguistics Department offers both Undergraduate and Graduate programs.
The Linguistics Department offers a variety of undergraduate programs. Although all our undergraduate degree programs are based on the same core set of introductory courses, each program is designed to serve the specific needs of the students in that subject area, and thus involves a different set of requirements. There are over 30 undergraduate Linguistics or Applied Linguistics majors enrolled in our department, and more than 300 students currently enrolled to take one or more Linguistics courses.
Follow the links on the left-hand column to read about our programs, courses, and other information for undergraduate students in Linguistics.
The Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria offers MA and PhD programs in Linguistics, as well as an MA in Applied Linguistics. The department provides an academic home to 40-45 graduate students researching grammatical aspects of a variety of languages, particularly indigenous languages of North America, as well as topics in applied linguistics, articulatory and acoustic phonetics, and sociolinguistics. Because the Department encourages a close working relationship between students and their supervisors, the Department is best able to accommodate students whose research interests correspond closely to those of their potential graduate supervisor.
Applicants should have a significant background in Linguistics before admission: for the Master's programs, a Bachelor's degree in Linguistics or a related field (with linguistic specialization) and for the PhD program, a Master's degree in Linguistics. Students without this background can sometimes be admitted in special circumstances. In this case, the student's program is augmented with additional coursework.
The Department of Linguistics is also a partner with Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education in offering a full-time Graduate Certificate program in Indigenous Language Revitalization, which ladders into a Master’s Degree (either MEd or MA).
Applicants for Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria send their application forms and supporting documents to the Office of Graduate Admissions and Records, Faculty of Graduate Studies. This office then forwards the material to the appropriate department for adjudication.
The application forms can be downloaded from the university's website or sent by mail.
There are a limited number of financial awards available for entering students. To meet Linguistics Department deadlines for consideration for financial awards, application materials must be received at the Office of Graduate Admissions and Records by 15 January, or 15 December for International students.
Follow the links on the left-hand column to read more about our graduate programs, courses, and other information for graduate students.