Linguistics, Literary Studies, Translating and Interpreting

Linguistics, literary studies, interpreting and translation degree programs deal with very different areas of language.

The study field at a glance

In contrast to degree programs such as Romance Studies, this field of study is not about a single language group but about a transnational or comparative approach. Degrees in this area specialize in specific topics within the language and literary sciences, such as interpreting the meaningful transmission from one language to another.

Offered courses

Most of the study programs in this field of study are offered on a basic and continuing basis. Degree programs include comparative literature, German-French literature and cultural studies, phonetics, language science, linguistics, Indo-European studies, computational linguistics, digital humanities and social sciences, international communication and translation, specialist translation, translation studies, sign language interpreting, rhetoric or business languages. Some degree programs are also offered in the form of combination study programs.

Close interdependencies have language and speech sciences to the respective neighboring disciplines of education, anthropology, anthropology, logic, philosophy, computer science, psychology as well as to therapeutically oriented study courses.

Contents of the course

  • Speech studies such as rhetoric, speech art or speech education deal with pedagogical, communication-theoretical or speech-educational aspects of speech.
  • 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 sources for other disciplines. Examples include study courses such as historical linguistics or Indo-European studies.
  • In general linguistics, it is usually about living languages and the given language systems in phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and text-critical terms. An important discipline is communication research, which deals with interpersonal communication. Special fields of research have been psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and pragma linguistics.
  • Degree programs such as computational linguistics deal with the processing of natural language in computer systems. Here, there are overlaps with computer science and information science. The subject of text technology is, among other things, the technological processing as well as the enrichment of texts.
  • Language teaching research, such as the study course Foreign Language Didactics, deals with the conditions and possibilities of learning and teaching foreign languages as well as their communicative use. It is an empirical and interdisciplinary discipline that combines learning-theoretical cognitive interests with practical goals.
  • Speech science, rhetoric and phonetics deal with the conditions of human communication from the point of view of spoken utterances, that is, with human speech and hearing.
  • Degree courses in Translation and Interpretation deal with the substantive transmission of speeches, (conference) conversations (interpreting) or written texts (specialized translation / literary translation) into other languages. Usually you decide on these courses for one foreign language.

Admission criteria & study application

Depending on the university, a local selection procedure can be used. Generally, knowledge of several foreign languages is required, including at least two live languages and sufficient knowledge of Latin, some of which must be documented by written tests.

Possible careers after graduation

Linguists will find employment opportunities in research and teaching, libraries, archives, documentation centers, publishers, radio and television stations, ministries (federal and state governments), international authorities, adult education institutions, with a corresponding focus also in treatment-related work areas or in the field of the performing arts.
Computer linguists also work in software development companies and translation agencies.

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