1. Linguistics is the study of language. True or False?
True. Linguistics is the study of language in general, not one specific language. Linguists study where a particular language comes from; how a language is put together; how language changes over time; how speakers of a given language use that language for various purposes; how languages are learned and taught; and so on!
2. All linguists speak many languages. True or False?
False. Sometimes a linguist speaks only one language but has some knowledge of another or other languages. He or she may know something about the structure of other languages but not even know a single vocabulary word in that language. Other linguists are fluent in more than one language and might have reading knowledge of a language that is not his/her first (or native) language.
3. Linguists are all expert language teachers. True or False?
False. Most linguists do not even teach languages (though the ones who do certainly could be “experts”). Linguists teach courses in linguistics such as phonetics, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, etc. Many linguists who work in language departments do teach a second language (English, Spanish, etc.) but not all.
4. Linguistic research is very abstract. True or False?
True and False. Some linguistic research is quite abstract but many linguists carry out investigations that are directly related to everyday issues. For example, some linguists have tried to answer these questions: Why does my spouse tell our dog in my presence what my spouse actually wants me to do rather than telling me directly?; How do doctors tell their patients that they have a serious illness and will soon die?; Are speakers of “Black English” less likely to get a job due to issues of linguistic profiling?
5. A linguistics minor could get me a job. True or False?
True. A minor in linguistics shows that you are interested in language-related issues. Employers in areas such as business, law, education, marketing, advertising, medicine, psychology, social work, communications, etc. would find your minor in linguistics appealing.