Welcome to the KPU linguistics page!

"What exactly IS Linguistics???"

Language is a unique and universal characteristic of the human species, and holds a special fascination for us. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists study all aspects of how people use language and what they must know in order to do so. The history of linguistics as a field of study goes back nearly three thousand years. Modern linguists concern themselves with many different facets of language, from the physical properties of sound waves in words to the intentions of speakers towards others in conversations and the social contexts in which conversations are embedded. The branches of linguistics examine how languages are structured, how language is learned, how languages are used, and how they change.

Who uses linguistic knowledge?

Knowledge about basic linguistics is applicable wherever language is a matter of concern. Thus, the domain of Linguistics is not a single field, but has connections to areas such as Anthropology, Biology, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, Criminology, Health Sciences, Language Pedagogy, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Physics, and Sociology. Linguistic inquiry ranges from research on teaching and learning foreign languages to studies of neurolinguistic disorders like aphasia and of various speech and hearing defects; from the preparation of dictionaries and the field of interpretation and translation to the work in language planning to devise writing systems for languages in the post-colonial world, to standardize terminologies for technical domains, and to revitalize endangered languages; from the linguistic techniques needed to avoid air accidents due to miscommunication, and to steer clear of problems of communication between members of different ethnic groups to linguists taking part in legal proceedings that require precise interpretation; from the development of interfaces that enable people to interact with computers using ordinary language, of systems capable of understanding speech and writing, and of techniques that allow people to retrieve information more effectively from text databases or from the Web to writing, editing and publishing. One of the more exciting applications of linguistic knowledge has been the ability to create new languages for different media, such as J.R.R. Tolkiens Elvish languages for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Marc Okrand’s Klingon for Star Trek.

Linguistics Courses

Courses are offered at the Richmond and Surrey campuses. Not all courses are offered at both campuses each term. All the Linguistics courses are transferable to other BC universities.

For further questions about the KPU Linguistics program, contact Dr. Päivi Koskinen:

Frequently Asked Questions about Linguistics

Will I learn to speak English more properly?

Linguistics courses are not meant to teach any specific language. You learn about many languages and about language in general. Linguistic knowledge will also make you better at learning and/or teaching and/or using languages.

Will I learn to speak some language other than English?

You will not become a proficient speaker of a new language in a Linguistics class. You may, however, want to study French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Punjabi or some other language, alongside your Linguistics courses, or after them. On the other hand, you will learn a lot about many languages and about human language in general. You will most certainly be a better language learner with Linguistic knowledge as an added study tool.

Do I need to speak many languages to take a Linguistics course?

In order to be a student at Kwantlen, you need to be able to speak English at a university level. If you are a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, you know enough about language for a Linguistics course. That is all you need to know about language in order to begin LING 1100 or LING 1300.