Linguistics is the systematic study of human language. Linguists are interested in language per se, as a complex product of the human mind. They are also interested in how language changes over time, how it is acquired and how it develops in children, and how it is used in society.
What are the properties shared by all human languages? What do they say about human nature? What are the differences attested across languages?
Languages may be spoken or signed “on the hands”. In what ways do spoken and signed languages differ? In what ways are they the same?
Students who like word games and puzzles are drawn into the fun of identifying the abstract patterns found in language and making hypotheses about how they are represented in the mind of a speaker.
The languages of the world are extremely diverse, yet we also know that they have many things in common. Understanding the similarities and differences drives a large part of linguistic research.
How is language represented and computed in the human mind? What can we do to help people whose ability to use language is somehow impaired?
What is the mathematical structure of human language? How do Alexa and Siri understand what I’m saying?