If You Love Words, Consider Studying Linguistics

Updated April 25, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Alphabet - If You Love Words, Consider Studying LinguisticsLinguistics may best be described as the rebar of the humanities—the supportive backbone that will rarely see the light of day. The value of linguistic scholarship to historians, translators, and literature scholars is sometimes incomparable. The way languages grow and intermingle is fundamental to the human cultural experience. But, the boring essentials like the differences between fricative consonants and approximants aren’t quite as headline grabbing as “New [linguistic] evidence reveals the fate of the Roanoke settlers”, nor even as exciting as “Mbabaram language independently creates identical term for ‘dog.’” That’s true, by the way, if you’re interested.

If you’re one of those few who want to study linguistics despite its lack of water cooler potential, we’d like to thank you for your imminent contribution to the social sciences. Then we’d like to congratulate you on your job security once you’re among the select few who can say something meaningful about Sanskrit. In the meantime, here are some handy resources to get you started:

Archives & Reference

  • Probably one of the coolest resources we have to discuss is Ethnologue. Ethnologue is a paid service, with the cheapest subscription running at $5/month. Ethnologue is a detailed catalogue of all of the languages (and most dialects) on Earth—all 7,100 of them. The languages are searchable by their relationships and by their population statistics.
  • The ACL Anthology is a collection of 41,000 papers on computational linguistics, divided up by the conference they originated from and by the year.
  • The Language Testing Resource Website is a public education resource with podcasts, videos, articles, and so on. If you’re looking for a more introductory resource, this is probably your best bet.


  • The Linguist List offers up downloadable fonts for linguistic use. Plain, simple, and altogether useless for someone who doesn’t know the material, but once you’ve engaged a bit you’ll undoubtedly find these valuable.
  • Praat is a downloadable program that allows you to use your computer for things like speech analysis, modification, and phonetics. The site may look like something from the late 90’s, but the software was updated as recently as March 23, 2017.


By Logan Chamberlain
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