Linguistics, Literary Studies, Interpreting and Translation

Courses in the fields of linguistics, literary studies, interpreting and translation deal with different areas of language.

The field of study at a glance

In contrast to courses that deal with one language, this field of study is not about a single language group, but rather a transnational or comparative approach. Courses in this area specialize in certain topics within linguistics and literature or, like interpreting, deal with the accurate transfer of content from one language to another.

Course offered

Most of the courses in this field of study are offered at an undergraduate and postgraduate level. Course names include “General Linguistics”, “Comparative Studies”, “Phonetics”, “Language Sciences”, “Linguistics”, “Indo-European Studies”, “Computational Linguistics”, “International Communication and Translation”, “Specialized Translation”, “Translation Studies” or “Rhetoric”. “. Some courses are also offered in the form of combination courses.

Linguistics and speech sciences have close interrelationships with the neighboring disciplines of education, anthropology, ethnology, logic, philosophy, computer science, psychology and with therapeutically oriented courses of study.

Contents of the course

  • Historical-comparative linguistics usually deals with a comparison of the Indo-European language family or with the reconstruction and correction of defective textual traditions that serve as a source for other disciplines. Examples of this include courses such as historical linguistics and Indo-European studies.

  • General linguistics is usually about living languages and the given language systems from a phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and text-critical perspective. An important discipline is communication research, which deals with interpersonal communication. Psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and pragmalinguistics have emerged as special research areas.

  • Courses such as computational linguistics deal with natural language processing in computer systems. There is overlap here with computer science and information science. Text technology is concerned, among other things, with the technological preparation and information enrichment of texts.

  • Language teaching research, e.g. the foreign language didactics course, deals with the conditions and possibilities of learning and teaching foreign languages as well as their communicative use.

  • Speech science, rhetoric and phonetics deal with the conditions of human communication from the perspective of spoken language utterances, i.e. with human speaking and hearing as well as with pedagogical, communication theory or speech therapy aspects of speaking.

  • Courses in the field of translation and interpreting focus on the accurate translation of speeches, conversations or written, including literary, texts into other languages. As a rule, you choose a combination of two foreign languages for these courses.

Admission criteria & application for study

Depending on the university, a local selection process may be used. Knowledge of several foreign languages is generally required, including at least two living languages, as well as sufficient knowledge of Latin, some of which must be proven by written tests.

Career opportunities after graduation

Linguistics and speech scientists find employment opportunities in research and teaching, libraries, archives, documentation centers, at publishing houses, radio and television companies, in ministries (federal and state), international authorities, adult education institutions, and if they have a corresponding focus of study, also in therapy-related work areas or in the performing arts environment.

Computational linguists also work in software development companies and translation agencies.

Interpreters and translators work primarily in interpreting and translation offices or larger companies in all sectors of the economy. In addition to pure translation work, they often take on tasks in project management, order processing, corporate communications or customer care. There are also job opportunities with international organizations, administrations, authorities, interpreting schools, language associations, adult education institutions and (usually freelance) as a literary translator.