Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

Rhodes>Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

About us


Watch this promo video to find out more about why to study Linguistics at Rhodes University: 

Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2022


What is Linguistics?

Language is involved in and helps to shape most of the things we do as people. This means Linguistics is a multifaceted discipline, which is involved with language in all its forms and functions. It is interested in everything from the individual sounds of language to the ways in which language influences and reflects society.  In Rhodes University's Linguistics and Applied Language Studies courses we provide an explicitly South African focus and to use examples from local languages and texts, celebrating our rich and complex multilingual society.


Why study Linguistics?

Linguistics will give you insights into how language is structured, how people communicate and use language, how people learn languages and how language changes and develops in society. Training in Linguistics will also be very relevant to your career if you plan to specialise in Education, Journalism, Teaching, Law or Psychology. You don’t need to know many languages to study Linguistics, but you do need a fascination for language.

The programme in Linguistics and Applied Language Studies is designed to meet the needs of anyone involved in language and communication. Its brief can broadly be defined as the exploration of language in its changing context in the light of contemporary linguistic theory.


The Drostdy Barracks, home to the Department of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies




Morphology & Semantics

Morphology is the study of how words are made up of small building blocks called morphemes.  Semantics explores the meanings of words and longer stretches of language.

In our department, the following people teach and do research in morphology and semantics:


Sociolinguistics studies the ways in which language interacts with society. It looks at the ways in which people in different places or different social classes speak differently to each other, and why.  It also examines how we adjust the way we speak or write according to the different situations we find ourselves in, such as on the beach or in a business meeting.

In our department, the following people teach and do research in sociolinguistics:

Phonetics & Phonology

Phonetics investigates the smallest building blocks of language: the sounds we make.  Phonology describes how we put these sounds together to make words.

In our department, the following people teach and do research in Phonetics & Phonology:

Systemic Functional Linguistics

Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is an innovative approach that sees language as a set of systems for making meaning, and as a collection of tools which we use to communicate.  It is a useful way to analyse the language in texts to look at, for example, the ways that we express emotions and attitudes, or the ways we structure texts to get our point across.

In our department, the following people teach and do research in Systemic Functional Linguistics: