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Linguistics Student Society Activity Introduces Students to Diverse Career Paths

The LSS leadership team invited professors from around campus to present on how they incorporate linguists into their careers and professions.

The Linguistics Student Society (LSS) hosted an activity on Friday focused on how linguistics can be used in different disciplines and careers.

LSS vice president Lindsey Leetham, a senior majoring in linguistics, noted that their activities “provide a place for English language, editing, and linguistics students to get together, share advice and ideas, and build a community.”

Students who attended last week’s activity heard from students and professors from around the university who incorporate linguistics research into their career field.

Associate Professor Connie Summers from the David O. McKay School of Education spoke on how she has used linguistics to inform her research and career as a speech language pathologist.

Summers noted that having a background in linguists is helpful because speech pathology is all about analyzing how individuals are using language to communicate. A working knowledge of the different domains of language is important to breaking down how individuals with speech disorders are communicating to “figure out the problem so that we can know what we need to target during our treatment in order to help them communicate better," Summers said.

Students Kyle Steele and Emily McDonald, from the communication disorders program, also presented on how they are using linguistics in their current research with Assistant Professor Tyson Harmon (Communication Disorders). They study adult speaking disorders and use linguistics to perform language analysis and further research in their field. Doing this, they hope to “see where someone’s language deficits lie and see where they might need some help,” said Steele.

For the last presentation, students watched a lecture by Assistant Professor Nancy Fulda from the computer science program. Speaking on how she uses linguistic methods and theories when coding computer games, Fulda remarked, "As human beings, we are linguistic creatures. We use language to interact with each other.”

While Fulda was speaking specifically to how she uses language and linguistics to interact with computers, this activity illustrated the broader principle behind the statement. Linguistics is foundational to many different fields and can be implemented in surprising and unlikely places.

Leetham noted that this activity specifically was designed “to get people interested in fields that may not normally be connected to linguistics. Especially if you're new in the field, it's kind of hard to know what opportunities are out there. It's fun to tell people what you can do and how you can change the world through linguistics.”

—Heather Bergeson (English, ’22)