The Master’s in Linguistics specialisation in Language and Communication at Leiden University examines the various aspects of language in its function as the ultimate communication tool for human beings. The diverse linguistic expertise at Leiden University makes this a unique opportunity to discover how languages become – sometimes fundamentally – different instruments of communication within the world’s contrasting cultural and social systems.
Check out the programme in Language and Communication.
“There’s more to language than spelling or grammar”
“Language fascinates me. How do we use language to communicate, and why do we communicate in a particular way? We all have our own ideas about language so it can go wrong, but on the whole it’s amazing that we understand one another so much of the time.
One of the strong points of this master’s is the wide choice of subjects and the freedom to choose the direction you want to go in. For some of the subjects you will be in a group of, say, 8 students, and for others there will be sixty or more. Leiden really stands out for its linguistic research; the fact that there are no fewer than 10 specialisations shows that. The quality of the teaching is very high. I tend to focus more on the pragmatic side of the subject (language use and evolution). On the other hand, I’m also interested in formal semantics, which is about logical symbols and relations.
For my bachelor’s thesis I studied dialect use in the Netherlands. I looked at an online consumer-to-consumer website and created and analysed a corpus of the adverts. My research was published in a professional journal, Nederlandse Taalkunde, which was a real kick! I definitely intend to use a similar online corpus for my master’s research.”
Linguistics has a lot of relevance because it helps us use language more clearly. Linguists are not interested in whether something is correct or not, but in how language is used. There’s more to language than just spelling or grammar. The way you speak can tell other people what group you belong to, even what kind of person you are. Added to that, language is always changing. You can see that easily in youth culture, for example. Language plays a big role in group dynamics; there’s a lot still to learn about how that works.”
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