A week in the life of a Linguistics student can be summarised in just one word: varied.
Linguistics consists of so many aspects of language it is almost impossible to explain it all. Ranging from the sounds and patterns of spoken language, to the theories behind how children learn a language, you’ll never be bored.
Over my three years in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science, I have had so many opportunities to try out and learn something new, which has been brilliant – as they say, variety is the spice of life! I have also found that many things I have learnt over the course appear in other subjects. The first year provides you with the basic building blocks of Linguistics: Phonetics and Phonology, Syntax, Sociolinguistics and Semantics. These will set you up and get you started on your Linguistics journey and then pop up when you least expect them.
But without further ado, here is what my week usually consists of.
On Mondays, I have two classes, English Place Names through Time and Space (EPN) and Bilingualism.
Since starting EPN, I am constantly looking up the etymologies of places near my hometown and then telling everyone I know my fun facts. We all know that English is not a straightforward language thanks to the invasions of different groups (cough Vikings cough) and this appears in our place names more than you might realise.
Last term, I studied a module called Psycholinguistics. We covered theories surrounding errors you make in speech, and how we process ambiguous sentences. I now find myself noticing things people say (especially when they mess up and say something they don’t mean) and I know what their brain must have done to muddle them up.
The lecture on Neurolinguistics is where I get to indulge in the scientific aspects of the brain, its complexity and how we use it for language. I briefly covered the brain in A level Biology so it’s nice to go back to study it in more detail, in relation to the stuff that intrigues me.
In the afternoon, I have Prosody. This is where we look at the aspects of spoken language which convey messages behind what the words say. Pitch, duration and intonation are all aspects of speech that we analyse and infer information from. This module is great because we have a mix of practicals, lectures and seminars so you can consolidate your learning in different ways, usually using some great software called Praat for analysis.
I used to be on the Alcuin College committee and helped to organise and run events which was brilliant fun and I met so many lovely people doing it. Do join and help make a contribution to your college events!
I don’t have any classes on Wednesdays which is great because I use it to go to the library and do my reading and seminar preparation. I often head into town for lunch at one of the many independent places in York that does amazing brunch, coffee and cake!! One of the things I’ll miss about the city is the amount of choice you have for eating out, and as a girl who appreciates a good avo on toast, this is such a blessing.
Thursdays consist of some seminars to follow up on the week’s lectures. Summarising content, activities that relate to the topic for that week and discussions of the set readings are usual structures for these classes.
I am President of the Linguistics Society, so I aim to run socials every fortnight, usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays. These tend to be relaxed socials, like pizza nights or nachos at Courtyard. It’s a great way to meet people in the department you wouldn’t normally come across as they may be in different classes or years, and might even sometimes be your lecturers!
On Fridays, I have more seminars and then I tend to consolidate all my readings for the week and start to settle for the weekend. Sometimes I’ll head home for a little break or I’ll have some friends come and visit.
I go to Samba drumming every Sunday afternoon at Samba York. This is another one of those things I am so glad I tried. Being in a band has really helped my confidence and learning something new that isn’t academic is such fun. I also spend my weekends cooking soup and other fun dinners for the week.
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