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What is Linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of the properties common to all the world's languages as well as the unique features of individual languages.  Linguists study the principles underlying the sounds (phonetics/phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), meaning (semantics), social functions and use (pragmatics) of human languages.  In addition, linguists are interested in areas such as language change, dialect variation, bilingualism, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, literacy and teaching English to speakers of other languages.

The linguistics student learns how to solve practical language problems and investigates specific questions such as:

  • Are some languages better than others?
  • In what ways are all languages the same? How do languages differ?
  • How are second and foreign languages learned? What makes a foreign accent 'foreign'?
  • Do bilinguals change personalities when they switch languages?
  • How is a word born? How does it die? Can two words mean exactly the same thing?
  • What is slang, and why do people use it?
  • Do children have to be taught to talk? Should parents correct their children when they make mistakes in speaking?
  • Does American Sign Language have morphology and syntax like other natural languages?
  • How do governments foster (or discourage) the use of specific languages and dialects?
  • Do men and women speak differently?
  • What is a standard language?  What is a dialect? Is Ebonics a dialect, a language, or something else?
  • Is it easier to learn some languages than others?
  • How can computers be programmed to understand and produce language? Can computers learn human languages?  Can apes?
  • How is language represented in the brain?

 
 

 Office Information

 
Program Director: Robert Vago
robert.vago@qc.cuny.edu

Department Office
Queens Hall, Room 300A
Secretary: Maria Cadme
maria.cadme@qc.cuny.edu
Phone: 718-997-2870
Fax: 718-997-2873

To reach us by public transportation, use the Q20A/B, Q44, or Q88 buses. Queens Hall is located at 65-21 Main Street (formerly the CUNY Law School). Visitors must enter using the rear entrance by walking around the south end of the building.

To reach us by walking from the main campus, exit from Gate 6 to Gravett Road (see map) and follow the signs to Queens Hall.

All mail to the department must be addressed to:

Queens Hall, Room 300A
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Queens, NY 11367-1597


 

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