All about the profession of a linguist

The modern globalized world implies a huge number of relationships between different peoples and states — without international cooperation in all spheres of human activity, we would still be far behind what we have achieved in terms of development. Now you will not surprise anyone with knowledge of two or three languages, but there are those who are even more pronounced polyglot.

However, this is all at a conversational level, to solve everyday problems, and yet humanity needs people who can delve deeper into the study of foreign languages. Although representatives of several professions are involved in such activities, linguists play one of the most important roles among them.

Who is that?

Today, the majority of the inhabitants have the concept of a linguist, but, as a rule, it is not entirely correct, inaccurate. In particular, such a specialist is often perceived as a translator or teacher of a foreign language. And although a linguist can indeed make a living from these activities, in fact, the main area of ​​\u200b\u200bhis training lies elsewhere. According to the definition, a linguist is a linguist, that is, a person who is a kind of scientist who studies the language, its structure, origin, rules of development.

Of course, such a specialist is fluent in the language or languages ​​in which he specializes, but his area of ​​\u200b\u200bresponsibility is the analysis of the language, and not just a banal translation. The history of the profession goes much deeper into the past than at the time when linguists began to be called linguists. Being engaged in the study of the principles of the formation and development of languages, these people stood at the origins of the creation of practical transcriptions and translation rules. In the old days, such people could be counted on the fingers even in fairly large countries, but today there are a little more of them, but still not so many that every philologist or translator can be called a linguist.

The professiogram of this complex profession is such that not everyone is able, at least theoretically, to succeed in this field of activity. It is necessary to have a number of properties and characteristics, among which the following are extremely important:

  • an excellent memory that allows you to keep a huge vocabulary and an array of other useful information in your head;
  • good hearing, helping to capture the subtleties of the sound of phonetics;
  • perseverance and patience are indispensable features for everyone involved in the development of theoretical science;
  • attention, associative thinking and analytical skills — designed to help notice not the most obvious patterns;
  • the ability to clearly express one’s own thoughts — allows one to explain one’s own theories to others, unambiguously convey the collected knowledge to listeners.


How is it different from a philologist?


Above, we briefly touched upon the problem of the fact that a clear line between a linguist and a philologist is not obvious to ordinary people, and for many applicants this is a problem, because they also do not always understand who they want to be and what specialty they enter. Understanding the difference before devoting your life to one or another area of ​​activity is vital, and we are ready to help you figure out how a linguist differs from a philologist.

Let’s begin with that A linguist is a specialty whose name comes from the Latin word for language. This is a linguist in its purest form — he is interested in language and only, but in all its smallest aspects. From a professional point of view, such a person is interested in the origin of the language and its relationship with related languages, the development of dialects, the formation and current structure of the language.

The linguist focuses on the language group, individual languages ​​or dialects to the smallest detail, the scope of his scientific interest may also be separately syntax or grammar. The main activities of such a person are to develop the principles of practical translation and teaching languages ​​(both native and foreign), as well as compiling textbooks and dictionaries.

No matter how strange it may sound, but a linguist is a «techie» in the world of the humanities.

The word «philologist» is translated from Greek as «lover of the word» and speaks of a broader orientation of the specialist. Such a specialist, as a rule, is interested in one specific language, and he studies it not so much in the smallest aspects, but in the breadth of application — for example, a philologist is interested in literary works and the cultural layer left by native speakers. The philologist is a humanist in its purest form; he perceives language as part of an identity that is directly related to history and even sociology.

The perception of the difference between the two professions, if you ask the professionals themselves, can be subjective, but in general it would be correct to say that it is easier for a linguist to get used to the role of a philologist than vice versa. The following example demonstrates the attitude to language best of all: linguists are absolutely calm about borrowing foreign words, because they understand that each language regularly goes through interaction with other languages, it develops and transforms in this way, and this is precisely one of the subjects of study for linguistics .


As for philologists, this is a sore subject for them — they are always supporters of the preservation of the language in its certain literary variant or variety of dialects, while the widespread introduction of foreign vocabulary seems to them an attack on the canons and the destruction of the identity of what they have devoted their whole lives to studying.


Pros and cons


It can be difficult to evaluate a profession from the outside, without “cooking” in professional circles, therefore it is very important that a potential professional has a concrete idea of ​​both the benefits and the pitfalls of the activity to which he plans to devote his life. Linguists, like representatives of any other specialty, face the advantages and disadvantages of their work in their professional activities, and they should be discussed separately.

Here are some features worth choosing linguistics as your own specialty:

  • demand — despite the rapid development of artificial intelligence and various online translators, humanity is still very far from being able to do without live linguists, while global civilization is in dire need of interethnic communication;
  • variety of activities available — being fluent in foreign languages, you can apply your knowledge in completely different ways, teaching the language to students, doing simultaneous translation or translating books and films, compiling textbooks, and so on;
  • chance of a pay rise – today, many specialists work not in their main specialty, but a confident command of foreign languages ​​in almost any field makes an employee more valuable and in demand;
  • opportunity to work in foreign companies — speaking confidently in a foreign language, a linguist is a priori not tied to his native country, instead he can work in local branches of foreign companies or move abroad in search of work;
  • freelance earning potential — if you don’t want to work for one particular boss and stick to a strict schedule, you can instead take transfers on stock exchanges, teach students remotely or sell training courses, keep an informative blog on the topic of linguistics;
  • opportunity to communicate with foreigners allows you to maintain the widest possible outlook, to be an interesting conversationalist and the most erudite person;
  • no need to completely learn from scratch long time after graduation — you just need to maintain and smoothly develop the knowledge base received, and if necessary, a person who already knows one foreign language will find it much easier to learn a second one.


All of the above features of the profession may suggest that the work of a linguist is the best in the world, but it is important to understand that difficulties are possible here. ATwhat features of the profession cause skepticism among potential linguists:

  • high supply in the labor market — with modern technology and travel opportunities, more and more people choose the profession of a linguist as a relatively easy and interesting profession, creating huge competition for vacancies;
  • high demands of employers — freedom of movement around the world leads to the fact that potential bosses increasingly want to hire not just a graduate, but a person who has experience of long-term residence in a language environment;
  • low starting salary — not having the same experience of being in the language environment, a novice linguist without a reputation cannot immediately apply for the most “delicious” vacancies and is forced to vegetate in second-rate translation agencies with minimal salaries;
  • the need for a second higher education to build an impressive career — it is often not enough to be just a linguist, because the boss wants you to be a journalist, political scientist, lawyer, economist or manager at the same time;
  • stress – a linguist is often required to be maximally concentrated and ready to produce results as quickly as possible, especially if he is working on simultaneous translation, and worrying about quality under such a load can really hit the psyche;
  • monotony of work — this is a subjective drawback, but for many, the work of a linguist may seem boring over time;
  • unstable workload — orders to the linguist are often uneven, there may be periods of excessive workload, alternating with forced downtime, which cannot be used for a full-fledged vacation, since it is not known how long they will last;
  • significant likelihood of professional mismatch — Having already become a professional linguist and faced with the need to look for a job, a young specialist may belatedly realize that he is not adapted to scientific or teaching activities, but also does not know where to look for customers to work as a freelancer.


Classification of linguists


Although the linguist is a single specialty, there are numerous areas of scientific interest for such specialists, which make them experts in some narrower field. There is nothing like the generally accepted systematic classification of linguists, and in many ways, fine specialization depends on what you are interested in and do all your life. So, someone devotes himself to a whole language group, becoming a novelist, Turkologist, Mongolian scholar, and someone focuses on one particular language, like Russianists, Arabists or Anglists.

You can focus not so much on a particular language or group of languages, but on a certain linguistic aspect. There are specialized semanticists, morphologists, and phoneticians studying, respectively, the semantics, morphology, and phonetics of several related languages. There are also more specific areas in the study of linguistics, including formalism, cognitive science, structural studies and functional studies.

Besides, It is also possible to classify linguists in terms of what narrow-profile translators they could be. For example, no «generalist» translator can translate mathematical treatises correctly — this requires a mathematician and a linguist in one person. Computer and broader digital linguists are needed in order to substantively deal with the translation of technical texts, which is extremely important now for representatives of most professions.

If a linguist, in principle, does not specialize in translations, but has a penchant for teaching, he can initially position himself as a teacher.

Responsibilities


The exact duties of a linguist can vary dramatically depending on the exact place of work and position — we have already touched on the topic of how differently you can build a career after receiving a specialty. Nevertheless, applied linguistics as a specialty requires you to do certain things, or at least be prepared for them to become your daily duties.

These tasks include the following:

  • develop and design dictionaries — both of the classical type (international and specific language), and thesauri;
  • create algorithms and develop methods for automatic translation and text processing;
  • participate in the creation of technologies that allow the most natural translation of text from one language to another without the participation of a live translator;
  • engage in research activities in the specialty.

As for specific duties in relation to a specific place of work, sometimes a linguist also has to translate in writing and orally (including simultaneously), collect and systematize linguistic information, write instructions for translators and ordinary users using a product or system developed by linguists.

Education


Linguistics is a rather complicated specialty, and you should not confuse a qualified linguist with every person who has mastered his own and one of the foreign languages ​​well. FROMfluency in several languages ​​is not enough to be considered a linguist, therefore it is impossible to master the profession on your own — moreover, there is no special opportunity to become a linguist if you enter after the 9th grade. If you see an educational name called the College of Foreign Languages, be prepared for the fact that these are ordinary language courses that do not even make you a translator. There is a similar educational institution in Moscow under the MKIK, but it also graduates teachers, not linguists.

In Russia, in order to become a linguist in the full sense of the word, one must enter universities. The faculty where such specialists are trained can be called differently — linguistic (ideally), translation, philology, or even just humanitarian. Be prepared for the fact that not every graduate of faculties with such names is a linguist, and in many provincial universities they do not graduate linguists at all, even if a faculty with one of the listed names is represented. Accordingly, specify the opportunity to study as a linguist in each specific educational institution. If the structure of the educational institution provides for the specialty «Linguistics», then this will be exactly what you need.

According to the current rules, admission to a Russian higher education institution requires the need to pass exams in subjects that are considered specialized. As a rule, it is necessary to take Russian, some foreign language and social studies.

Nevertheless, relying on a universal formula of these three subjects is not worth it — instead, you need to contact the university that is selected for admission in advance and clarify what requirements are put forward for applicants.

Where does he work?


After university, the linguist has the broadest prospects for finding a job, because he can work at any company or enterprise that has even the slightest relation to foreign languages ​​​​or international contacts. The easiest and most obvious option closest to home is a school where you can take up teaching, although more often linguists teach on the Internet, blogging or recruiting groups remotely.

In addition, potential jobs may include:

  • translation agencies, as well as media engaged in the operational translation of foreign press and articles from the Internet;
  • universities and institutes requiring high-quality teaching staff;
  • international associations, associations and press centers requiring advanced consultations to correctly formulate their own statements in different languages;
  • hotels, libraries and associations of museums.

How much does he earn?

The salary of a linguist is a rather abstract number, since each such specialist is a kind of piece goods. Open vacancies of this kind with a clear, pre-obvious set of responsibilities simply do not exist, and it depends on the list of tasks that how much the boss is willing to pay. Again, many linguists work on freelance, if not permanently, then partially, and there everything depends on the rates of a particular specialist and the flow of orders that he faces, and this is a very variable value.

To give at least a very general idea of ​​the salary of a linguist, let’s go through related professions. A novice translator who does not deal with simultaneous translation and works in a provincial bureau with popular languages ​​can hardly count on a salary higher than 20-40 thousand rubles a month. The average salary of a school teacher in Russia is 41,000 rubles. In both cases, everything also depends on the region, because it is no secret that salaries in Moscow or St. Petersburg are noticeably higher than in the provinces.

A good help for raising salaries may be additional knowledge of rare languages ​​​​or dialects — if you are not limited only to them, the surcharge can be 15-20 thousand rubles in excess of salary. Working as a linguist in the IT field allows you to earn from 50 thousand rubles and more, and simultaneous interpreters also earn very well.


Working for the Russian branch of a large foreign company, you can significantly go beyond the average Russian salary.


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