When entering university, I chose my discipline on a series of speculative conceptualizations of what I thought would incorporate the field in which I would dedicate a staggering number of years in study (relative to the length of time I had already lived at the time, of course). I began as many young people do through the use of the time tested analytical categorization of ruling options out.
science, math, engineering, acting, visual arts, “modern” history, English, French…. That left me with a fairly liberal helping of social studies and arts programs for me to sniff out for flavor. I have never been one to follow politics, though I have always had a good interest in languages, other cultures, society as a concept, so I veered my gaze towards social studies and focused my interest in the programs offered at my local universities.
I decided on two to apply to: linguistics and medieval studies, with the intent of taking music as my minor. I had considered translation, but, you see, I had been in my fifth year of Saturday school to learn the Japanese language, I had taken two years of Spanish, and was a bilingual speaker of English and French and I had well established a disinterest in translation.
I could have ventured down the path of college to choose schooling more appropriate to my tactile nature, but upon completion of the IB (International Baccalaureate) program, my mind was roaring for stimulation. I decided to enter into linguistics, because, let’s face it, languages are pretty darn awesome and interesting as a quasi-universal concept. First year, I loved it, but my minor in music didn’t stack up– I had already learned everything covered in the courses offered in the first three years of the minor… With no practical courses. Music theory is dry to start with, relearning it in an auditorium full of other people without any interactive teaching tools? Welcome to the Sahara of intellectual fodder.
So what did I take? Religious studies courses! That back story can be found in a previous blog… Over my degree I started enjoying religious studies more and more, and linguistics less and less. Not because linguistics isn’t interesting, but because the program didn’t really stack up to the expectations I had of it as a field, namely, it’s new. Very new. If I had been anyone else, the new shiny nature of this field of (scientific) study would be exciting, exhilarating even! The chance to be the one to find a breakthrough in how Language works and unravel the mysteries!
As much as I love puzzles, I am not one so satisfied on focusing all my attention of finding out whether hypotheses stand true or not… It is one of the reasons I had originally crossed out science. Honestly, I went in expecting to be able to pull upon years of research and academic authority to learn the truths of Language that had been uncovered and deemed as unanimous concrete truths… What I found: a fluid system of subordinate disciplines all currently working towards gleaning some kind of understanding of the term Language (a universal concept of language, rather than languages), where many of the disciplines have internally contradicting theories that have not yet been completely proven or disproven and on have research X, Y, and Z to give any evidence for anything. This is a field ripe with opportunity to grow and make a name for yourself in academia, or move on to professions of health care such as speech pathology, and really make an impact on lives…. But that’s not what I wanted to learn… And I don’t really like reading article and running linguistic research…
So I’ve been taking the most interesting classes, neurolinguistics is my all time favorite, but in the end, my original program choice is getting side lined in the long run to it’s hot new rival, religious studies (with emphasis on critical religion).
It is a rare thing that someone goes into a program and sticks it out until the end (less rare in engineering I believe). Whether it is a lack of interest, a lack of available employment after a degree, or any number of reasons, I’ve certainly added the age of a field of study to that list.