Sunday, May 7, 2017

Thinking of majoring in Linguistics? Here's my experience.

Hello lovelies!
I know, I know!
I was gone for the longest time,
but i promise after this week
I'll be more active everywhere!
My summer is free this year.
I decided I needed a break.
That and my wallet can't afford the summer semester haha.

But with all seriousness,
Let's move on into today's topic.

"Majoring in Linguistics"
After a chat with a friend on my facebook page called Osita (P.s Hi Osita!)
I decided I wanted to make this post.

I major in Linguistics, and I'm pretty much done with my major and now I'm finishing up my English literature minor. So I wanted to tell you about the courses I took, my experience, and a little look into what you will be signing up for.

The thing linguists always face is,
"How many languages can you speak?"

Linguistics however, is not about how many languages one speaks, or anything about languages although we do spend some time looking at them and how they work.

Though in my linguistics journey I've come to learn
chinese, french and portuguese.
Many linguistic majors will study other languages as it is our fascination. 

Linguistics is about language as a system and how it works in both the mouth and mind.
Personally, as I want to become a TESOL teacher, I wanted to break down language first and see how this will help me teach my students in an easier way.

Here are some of the courses I took without counting intro to linguistics which shows you what you will be facing in the 3 main courses. Now these may vary, but these are exclusively from my campus.

  • syntax
  • phonology
  • language and cognition

I don't know if that was the order we were supposed to take but that's how I took them.

Let's first start with Syntax:
First I have got to say that i'm #teamsyntax ALL THE WAY.
Syntax is my favorite part of linguistics.
Syntax means order.
So here we focus in the order of our sentences.
Let me show you a lovely yet terrifying image of Syntax,
Image result for syntax tree
This is a syntax tree, particularly a question one. 
But before I come up with all these fancy terms let me thoroughly explain  
NP stands for a noun phrase, what goes down this branch?
You guessed it! Nouns!
VP is a verb phrase, and of course it is followed by verbs.
There's a bunch of rules which I won't get into much detail 
but the most simple tree will look like this:
Image result for syntax tree
For this section you're going to have to be familiar with what nouns, verbs, adjectives ect are.
Although the main focus of this course is these amazing trees,
you do touch subjects of clauses and such.
Image result for syntax clauses brackets
What's extremely interesting of this part of Linguistics?
Well the papa of linguistics, Noam Chomsky can answer that.

The human language is so weird
We can follow all the rules to make a proper sentence and yet have this:
"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously"
Image result for colorless green ideas sleep furiously shirt
This sentence follows the rules,
and yet...does this make sense?

Moving on with Phonology:
But I also loved it.
But first let's establish a difference right away
Phonetics and Phonology.
Let me put it really simple:
Phonology= how system of sounds are assembled and work
 and how they work in the mouth and mind

In this class you're going to have to get used to the IPA symbols
aka International phonetic Alphabet:
These are the consonants chart:

so PoA and MoA
Point of Articulation: bilabial, labiodental ect
Manner of Articulation: Plosive (stops), nasals, trills ect
What does this represent?
well the mouth!
And all the features you use to produce these sounds.
Here are the vowels in english:
Image result for ipa vowels english
In order to be able to understand this class,
you will have to get used to and memorize these symbols.

You will use this knowledge while examining other languages.
Throughout my class we looked at japanese, spanish, english and many endangered or
african, native american languages.

The exercises given to us, were for us to figure out how a language works
for example: when an /l/ changes into /r/

Other topics you will touch that are important is
knowing when it's an allophone or a phoneme

Phoneme= is a sound that matters for meaning
example: Pat, bat, cat
different sounds different meanings
Allophone= is a sound that is part of a phoneme

For a example think of the word:
Many people say cotton with /t/ and many with /d/
That's because [t] and [d] are allophones of phoneme /t/

Then you will go into big things like derivations:
Derivations look like this
/phonemic representation (what the speaker think is saying)/
rules (what happens here that they aren't aware of)
[phonetic representation (what they actually say)]
We can't study the brain directly to find out how this happens,
so we rely on derivations to show us what happens in the mind,
then rules and the result of those rules.

There's many more topics like tones, stress and such but I believe these are the main focus.

Moving on to Language and Cognition:
For this, I took a course that was cross-listed with psychology.
Apparently, psycholinguistics is a thing!
A very interesting one too.
It was still very linguistics biased.
So what is cognition? The mind!

This course was by far my favorite.

We discussed topics like,
can we teach language to animals
does the language we speak influence the way we think,
thoughts vs language
garden path theory
code-switching (for example: spanglish)
arbitary sentences

In this class you kinda get to take a break, because you break away from the hands-on experience and begin to discuss theories and further investigate the human mind.

My favorite theory is Benjamin Lee Whorf and Sapir's
does the language we speak influence the way we think?

What do you think?

This post is in no way to turn you off from studying Linguistics.
The world of linguistics, is a very interesting one.
No major is easy, but if you like it you will get through it.

I encourage you to study Linguistics.
Good Luck!

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