Linguistics studies explore how language develops and affects humans throughout the world. It can involve physiology, focusing on the mechanics of sounds, such as how the mouth and vocal chords are shaped to produced specific sounds. It also includes the study of how sounds are put together to form words and sentences. Linguistics delves into the study of how languages interact with each other, influencing and begetting new languages. Since language is constantly changing, adding new words and phrases and picking up words from other languages, the study of linguistics studies is a dynamic field.
Applied linguistics studies how humans learn and teach second languages. Students take courses in one or more foreign languages as well as pedagogy classes. Higher level students, such as masters and doctoral candidates, may also teach lower level foreign language classes. The program is designed to prepare students to become foreign language instructors.
Sociolinguistics is similar to applied linguistics but takes the study further. The culture, traditions, and history of a foreign language are studied in depth. How language effects parts of culture — a culture with an oral tradition versus one with written history, for instance — and how a culture interacts with other cultures are parts of sociolinguistics studies. Students also study endangered and dead languages as well as dialects.
Computational linguistics is the study of language and computer science. It focuses on the exploration of language as part of artificial intelligence, integrating computer programming and, to a lesser extent, philosophy. Students are required to take both linguistics and computer science classes.
Programs that involve the mechanism of sound, speech, and language are sometimes called theoretical linguistic studies. Students research how the body actually produces sound, from the vibration of the vocal chords to the location of the sound in the mouth to how the lips are shaped to form it. They also study how sounds are used to form words and how sentences are structured to create meaning.
Typically, linguistics studies are only introduced at the bachelor's degree level. A student usually gets a degree in English or a foreign language and then undertakes linguistic studies in graduate school. Students may take one or two linguistic classes at the undergraduate level, but most focused linguistic studies are offered in master's and doctorate level programs. In many cases, linguistic studies do not include obtaining fluency in multiple languages. An individual can become a linguist without knowing more than one language.