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Subject: Linguistics and Math or Linguistics and Programming
Question: I am wondering whether it would be more valuable to a student who intends on studying Theoretical or Descriptive Linguistics to complement their studies with courses in Mathematics and Statistics or with courses in Programming and Computer Science, if they do not plan on becoming a computational linguist, but rather want to broaden their education to develop a stronger applicable skill set.
Reply: As much abstract math and logic (set theory, foundations, algebra, topology, matrices, modal logics) and statistics (including probabilities and where they come from) and programming (in R, Python, or C) andexperience with databases and corpora as one can manage will come in handy eventually for any linguist. (I'd also recommend familiarity with audio/video equipment and editing. The field is changing rapidly.) The more math you know, the better you can program. And vice versa. And the better you can think about natural language in both cases, because all of math, stat, and programming involve disciplined pattern recognition and description of phenomena (natural or artificial), and that's all linguistics is, only with ultimately phonetic data. That's where the sound aspect comes in; language is ultimately spoken. So, if you're asking about majors and minors and requirements, my advice is to pay as little attention to official rules as you can get away with, and make sure that you take the courses that you want and need, whether you're officially required to, or advised to, or not. It's your education and you're paying for it and you're going to be stuck with it for the rest of your life, so make damn sure it's what you want.
Reply From: John M. Lawler      click here to access email
Date: 24-Jul-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Linguistics and Math or Linguistics and Programming    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (24-Jul-2013)

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