Now you know how to impress your flatmates with some homemade veggie burgers (see last blog post if you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about), it’s probably time to talk about what else you’ll be doing at University – studying.
I remember the exact moment I decided York was the place to go to study Linguistics. I was sat in my school library, writing my English Language project about euphemisms in British comedy by trawling through the module options of different universities. “Introduction to Syntax”, “Introduction to Sociolinguistics”, “Introduction to Phonology”. I’m sure these titles are very familiar to you, and I would bet you’ve seen first year modules of almost, if not actually, identical names at different universities when deciding where to study. Because of this, Linguistics is a difficult course when it comes to deciding what is right for you. What worked for me, and could help you, is looking at what you’ll be doing in your second and third years.
It was then, upon opening a list of final year modules that practically filled an A4 sheet of paper, that I printed off the course details, ran to my English Language teacher’s classroom (because this kind of decision overules the ‘no running in corridors’ regime), and said “This is it. This is the one”.
“Where’s your project?” She replied.
“That doesn’t matter.”
And it didn’t. I remember gushing about “Forensic Phonetics” and “Formal Syntactic Theory” and “Bilingualism” and “Language and Discrimination” and having no idea what any of that would really involve but I knew I was excited about it anyway and wanted to know more. For most of you, I assume, you’re in a similar boat – you’ve heard the terms and it looks interesting but it’s all quite new.
York, for that reason, is possibly the best place to study. Your first year of compulsory modules in introductory topics lets you dip your toe into the basics of all of those fascinating-sounding final year modules – and that toe dipping is so, so, so important! I saw other universities who, whilst they made some of their first year modules a must, gave their students more free reign over their very first linguistic choices. That initial sense of excitement I had about “Forensic Phonetics”? York let me try it first, a taster, in the form of Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. And it was horrible (for me, other people loved it of course). In Syntax I flourished more than I hoped I would and I discovered Semantics that, were it not for forced toe-dipping, I might have completely overlooked (and I’m currently contemplating an MA in Comparative Syntax and Semantics).
Being given your first year to find out what really interests you means that you could end up a second year just wanting to start that first semantics lecture that’s already been put online. Because everyone is doing what they really want to do – and they can because the choice at York is so varied – that studying part I was talking about isn’t so bad.
need want to go and do my Structure of Modern Hebrew reading (I told you York was varied). If you have any questions about the course, do comment; if there’s one thing I love almost as much as linguistics, it’s talking about linguistics!