Posted by: Piers Kelly | October 26, 2009

Careers and research directions in sociolinguistics

John J Gumperz, Discourse Strategies

This is the best front cover of a linguistics textbook ever. Love the haircuts, outfits, furniture, everything. And I love how the men are studiously talking to the men, and the women to the women.

Anyway, now that we are at the end of the semester some of you may be wondering where a career in linguistics can take you. I urge you not to rule out modelling for book covers.

Alternatively, take this illuminating quiz here.

It’s hard to think of many jobs that are specifically tied to sociolinguistics. Off the top of my head I can think of education policy writing, ESL teaching, curriculum design and forensics. But one of the great things about sociolinguistics is that it has a very broad relevance. To a greater or lesser extent it informs all the other branch of linguistics – not to mention sociology, psychology and anthropology.  I have used (socio)linguistics in the real world for editing translations, overseas aid work, native title and aboriginal language centre work. If any of these areas interest you I’m happy to answer questions or pass on details. The career centre will be able to offer more general advice.

Some of you may be interested in further research in sociolinguistics or in language-and-culture oriented topics. There’s plenty going on in these areas. A few big projects happening around campus and beyond: The Social Cognition project (RSPAS), The Austkin project (AIATSIS, ANU) and the Australian National Dictionary (AND Centre). To find out about what some of the postgraduate students are working on, come to the Linguistics, Languages and Cultures Graduate Conference which is being held in conjunction with the Darwin and Social Sciences Workshop. Both are free, but you’ll have to register. Guest speakers include Russell Gray (University of Auckland) on language and evolutionary biology, and Michael Walsh (University of Sydney) who will be talking about language decline and revitalisation.

Anything else you know about, please add it in the comments.



  1. i am amazed. i completed a degree in sociolinguistics, language literacy and culture and i have no idea where to find work, i am currently teaching but i want to do something else. can you guys help

  2. That’s my passion to be a Psycho- Linguist

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