115 Wilson Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400777
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4777
(434) 924-7159 Fax: (434) 924-7160
Overview Language is central to virtually all human activity. Indeed, many argue that the emergence of language was the single most important factor in the differentiation of the human species from other hominids. Linguists study language as a specialized communicative system with its own distinctive principles of structure and patterning. Apart from the traditional subfields of phonology (the patterning of speech sounds), morphology (word-building processes), and syntax (rules of phrase and sentence formation), there are the interdisciplinary research areas of semantics and discourse analysis, with connections to philosophy, psychology, anthropology, literature, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and linguistic anthropology.
Faculty The linguistics faculty are housed in a number of University departments, including anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and various language departments. Their research interests span all the subfields mentioned above, and their publications cover a wide number of languages and language families, including Romance, Slavic, Germanic, Sanskrit, Chinese, Arabic, African, and Native American languages, and American Sign Language.
Students There are usually about twenty-five linguistics majors in a given year. Many combine linguistics with a major in a related field such as a foreign language, psychology, or anthropology. Linguistics classes are generally small, with an emphasis on class participation and problem-solving. All courses in the program are taught by faculty members.
Graduates with a B.A. in Linguistics pursue a variety of careers. Some conduct graduate work in a related field, such as language and literature, language teaching, or speech pathology; others become involved in non-academic pursuits, ranging from law to computer programming. Yet even those who do not continue in linguistics find the analytical skills and knowledge acquired in the major to be relevant and useful.