• Alysa Salzberg

What does a linguist do?

A recent post on translation industry website Slator claims that linguists are more important in the language industry than ever, due to an increased preference for localized content.


Linguists can make a company’s translations sound natural to their target market.

That makes sense, and is definitely encouraging news for lovers of language who might dream of majoring in linguistics. But it turns out that the article was sponsored by the

Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). So, is it completely true and unbiased?


It’s difficult to find concrete answers to this question. The article itself contains no statistics or interviews with outside sources. A web search mostly results in colleges that offer linguistics majors touting the values of studying with them.


But one result does lead to a fascinating read. A reddit thread entitled “Why is linguistics important” received a large number of very thorough responses by linguists themselves. These linguists work in many different fields, from childhood education, to research, to computer science, and easily point out how they contribute to the world at large, by helping us better communicate and understand communication itself.


In the end, my research may not have given me the answer I was hoping for, but at least it’s made for an interesting reminder of the many roles linguists and linguistics majors play today. Read on to discover the reddit thread.


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