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The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC)

What is a Linguist?

University of Nottingham

A new course at the University of Nottingham-Malaysia, Applied English Language Studies, will open up a wide and fascinating choice of careers for graduates.

If you think of someone who studies linguistics, perhaps the image you have is of a stuffy academic in a tweed jacket and pipe doing meticulous research into the history of English place names or sometime equally arcane. In fact, the job of a modern linguist could not be further from that dusty stereotype.

This is exemplified by a new course at Nottingham University- Malaysia Campus. Their new BA (Hons) in Applied English Language Studies is a brand new and innovative degree programme, giving students a solid foundation in various aspects of linguistics, as well as TESOL methodology.

There has, perhaps, never been a more exciting time to study linguistics. One of the biggest recent developments has been the electronic corpus. These are collections of language stored on a computer, and which can be searched. These can give surprising insights into the way that we use English. For example, it may not surprise you that “to be bent on” is usually used to describe something nefarious, but there are more subtle ideas that can come out of corpus analysis. An example is the fact that “cause” is most often use with negative results: it is more common to “cause an accident” than to “cause a celebration”.

This knowledge makes the linguist a much more effective communicator, and someone who is able to identify the needs of the reader, and tailor their writing to communicate complex messages much more effectively. If you take a look through the shelves of Business books in your local bookstore, virtually everyone will emphasise the importance of communication. Someone who is trained in linguistics will know how to make the best choices to most effectively communicate their message, and also how to train others to communicate.

Nottingham - Linguist

The impact of new technology is not only affecting linguistics, a deep understanding of language is also at the heart of the way that computers are developing. Areas such as speech recognition depend on the work of linguists, and the future of computing is sure to be one in which we interact with computers using more natural and real language, and less artificial gestures, such as clicking on a mouse. It is not just in the realms of science fiction that we will be conversing with computers in the near future, rather than just giving them instructions.

Much research into Artificial Intelligence is based on linguistics. After all, if a computer is going to think, it needs to be able to communicate its thoughts in a way that we can understand. And it needs to be able to understand what we say to it. This goes far beyond just recognising sounds- it will need to understand grammar, incredibly complicated vocabulary and also the intention behind our speech. This is a vastly complex field, but one in which it will be incredibly rewarding to work.

Trained linguist are also found in a variety of other jobs. Of course, many find themselves teaching languages in schools, which is a rewarding and socially useful career. Others move into Speech Therapy, helping people who suffer from speech disorders, for example after a head injury. Also, in a country as ethnically diverse as Malaysia, socio-linguistics plays a part in public policy, and therefore linguists’ expertise is needed in the formulation and implementation of social and educational developments. There are even opportunities to work in Law Enforcement, as a forensic linguist.

Mike Groves, from the school of English Language Education said “This course is a wonderful opportunity for people who want to pursue rewarding careers in a range of exciting fields.”

For more information, kindly contact :
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Tel : +603-8924 8000
Email : [email protected]