Become a linguist

Studying linguistics
Examples: What young linguists are doing

Studying linguistics

If you find the topics of this website fascinating you should consider becoming a linguist yourself! There are many different study programs from which you may choose, depending on your interests and the country where you want to study. Beware: programs with the same title offered by different universities may have quite different contents, so check and compare before you make your choice! A program simply called Linguistics is often (but not always) focused on the main language of the university. For example, studying “Linguistik” in Germany may be focused on the German language.

If you want to learn more about language as a human capacity in general, or about the different languages of the world, watch out for programs called General linguistics (for example, Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft at the University of Cologne, Germany, or Algemene taalwetenschap at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Theoretical linguistics (for example, MA program offered at the Research Institute for Linguistics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Empirical linguistics (for example, BA Empirische Sprachwissenschaft at Kiel University in Germany), or Ethnolinguistics (for example, Etnolingwistyka at the Institute of Linguistics at Poznan University in Poland).

If you want to explore languages and cultures of non-European languages in more detail, look for universities offering degrees in African studies, Oriental or Asian studies, Latin American studies, etc. For example, a new interesting MA program called “Language diversity of Africa, Asia and Native America” is offered by the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

If you are more interested in the languages of Europe, why don’t you choose one of the lesser studied languages such as Danish, Estonian, Latvian, or Rumanian (all of them official languages of the European Union, by the way, so not endangered)? You can find these languages at university departments of Scandinavian, Finno-Ugric, Baltic, and Romance languages, respectively. There are also many endangered languages and dialects in Europe, which you may come to know while studying one of the “save” languages (browse our List of Languages to find some!). Of course, “big” and better known languages such as French, German, Spanish or Russian are also a good choice if you want to start exploring languages. A good command in one of these language will also open the way to the study of many endangered languages – for example, if you want to study the native languages of Latin America, you should know Spanish, and a lot of material about African languages is available only in French.

One of the places you may start your search for the degree of your dreams is the portal The Linguist List, where you can find a list of study programs which you can browse by country or search for keywords.

Welcome to the community of linguists!


In these videos (former) students Pascale Paulin and Mikko Salminen talk about their motivation of becoming a linguist and documenting an endangered language, and introduce you to their work:

Pascale Paulin:


Another video with Pascale about Baka (in French only)

Mikko Salminen:


Mikko – about Huave

Mikko – about language documentation

(both only in Dutch)