Career as Linguist/Translator

Career as Linguist/Translator

Linguistics is the scientific study of languages. Linguistics deals with the structure and development of particular language and its relationship to other languages. It is the study not of one particular language but of human language in general. There are mainly two broad divisions of linguistics: theoretical linguistics and applied linguistics.

While theoretical linguistics is divided into many separate areas like: Phonetics, the study of different sounds that are employed across all human languages; Phonology, the study of patterns of a language’s basic sounds; Morphology, the study of the internal structure of words; Syntax, the study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences; Semantics, the study of the meaning of words, and how these words combine to form grammatical sentences; Stylistics, the study of style in languages; Pragmatics, the study of how utterances are used (figuratively, literally or otherwise) in communicative acts.

Applied linguistics covers the area of language teaching and the areas of speech synthesis, speech recognition and speech/language pathology as well. Thus, one can use linguistics to provide voice interface for computers, voice recognition etc.

A Linguist is someone who studies and works with language, or specific languages. Sometimes they combine words from many languages to form a new language which people from many countries can follow. For example: Esperanto is a language made from combining the words from different European languages.

Sometimes, linguists work with computer specialists to create voice interfaces with computers, and look for ways to make computers respond to voice commands.

Sometimes, they learn many languages and teach others.

Psycholinguists undertake psychological study of language learning.

Bio-linguists study anatomical and physiological foundations of the spoken language, Including development of the language.

Neuro-linguists study brain functioning involved in comprehension, abstract thinking and language production.

Socio-linguists study mans' role in relation to languages, i.e, the correlation between social groups based on language, linguistic customs etc. It also covers linguistic aspects of small group interaction, conformity, structural hierarchy etc.

Ethno-linguistics focuses on the study of mans' customs as shown by language. It is used for film making, copy-writing, therapy of the speech handicapped.

Basically, linguists are a specialist in language and usually employ the language skills to earn money. There are formal courses, degrees and diplomas which recognized universities offer to budding linguists. Most of the linguists work as translators, as content creators for education industry, or language specialists with multinational companies, government's foreign office, embassies etc.


Courses & Eligibility

One can begin in school itself where many progressive schools offer courses in foreign languages. One can take up Class XII with humanities and later do Graduation and Post graduation in linguistics.

Graduates from any stream can sit for entrance and pursue post gradution in linguistics. Almost all Central Universities in India offer research programme (M.Phil/Ph.D) in linguistics and most of them offer master’s programme in linguistics as well.

B.A.(Hons.), M.A. in Linguistics, Certificate in Linguistics, P.G. Diploma in Linguistics
Post M.A., Diploma in Linguistics, Advanced Diploma in Applied Linguistics


Certificate course Foreign Language: 10+2
Diploma course: 10+2 and certificate in the language.
Degree course: 10+2, Most of the reputed institutes and universities take their own entrance exam.

College/Where to study

  • University of Delhi: Advanced diploma in Applied Linguistics.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) M.A. in Linguistics
  • Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad: M.A. in Linguistics
  • Aligarh Muslim University (UP) B.A.(Hons.), M.A. in Linguistics, Certificate in Linguistics, P.G. Diploma in Linguistics
  • Max Mueller Bhawan, courses in German Language
  • Indian institute of foreign trade,New Delhi: Certificate courses in Chinese, Spanish and Portugese languages.
  • Indian institute of Korean language and culture, Vikas Marg New Delhi
  • Inlingua international school of languages, South Extension-I, New Delhi: Offers courses in German, Spanish and French at beginners level.
  • Institute for career studies New Delhi YMCA, 1, Jai Singh Road , Offers vocational courses in French, German and Spanish languages
  • Institute of Russian language, Russian Centre of Science & Culture, 24, Ferozeshah Road , New Delhi
  • 10-month certificate course for beginners and 10-month Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Post Advanced Diploma course for Advanced students in Russian Language.
  • Japanese embassy, Delhi Offers courses in Japanese language

Many universities have department of languages like:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi Click me
  • Bharathiar University, Coimbatore Click me
  • Calcutta University
  • MS University, Baroda
  • Pune University Click me
  • Annamalai University
  • University of Delhi Click me
  • Aligarh Muslim University (UP) Click me
  • Pt.Ravishankar Shukla Unviersity, Raipur (C.G) Certificate course in Translation
  • Swani Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded Certificate course in Translation
  • University of Pune., Certificate and Diploma course in Translation Ganeshkhind, Pune
  • Visva –Bharati University Santiniketan , M.A. in Functional Hindi (Translation ) West Bengal, India
  • University of Hyderabad. Post Graduate Diploma in Translation Studies(PGDTS)

Career Prospects

Qualifications in linguistics can take one to many careers. To mention a few like education, publishing, media, social services, communication, computer languages, voice analysis research, communicative disorders and other language related fields.

Linguists find employment in many industries and applied linguistics is fast emerging as a lucrative career option. Teaching is one of the many options which one can explore after studies in linguistics. There are many openings in schools and institutes of higher education. They get extensively employed with publishing industry and electronic publishing also. Linguists get involved in speech and language therapy with specialists. Government sector is also one of the big employers. Various embassies and high commissions employ translators. Business process outsourcing industry is offering huge employment in form of trainers and content.

Pay & Remuneration

Generally, pay varies with the area of work. MNC’s employ linguists and pay handsomely, while a language teacher may not earn that well. Linguists earn well in film industry also. Beginners in publishing industry earn around Rs 2.4 lakhs a year reach higher pay scales with experience.


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    1. @prans

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