Linguists do many different things. There's a nice Wall Street Journal article about linguists being hired by many high tech companies, for big bucks! You might also read Linguistics at Work, by Dallin Oaks.
For linguistics job listings, visit the Linguistic Society of America's webpage.
Career Services (Hood House, Room 102, 862-2064) helps students establish career goals, explore employment opportunities, and brush-up on interviewing and resume-writing skills. Resources available through Career Services include vocational interest testing, a computer career decision making package (FOCUS), a job locator program to help students locate part-time and summer jobs, and a network of alumni and parent career advisors. Career Services also coordinates a senior recruiting program (where employers come on campus and interview students that have submitted resumes) and a Career Fair (where dozens of employers are available to meet with students and answer questions). A list of job-related web sites is available from the Career Services office.
Sample Linguistics Technological Jobs
speech synthesis / speech recognition / speech and language pathology / film dialog design / creating dictionaries, language databases, and grammars / information retrieval / military intelligence / language acquisition and teaching / text generation
Note: These are NOT current job offerings! They are just meant to give you a sampling of the jobs available within specific areas along with the names of some companies that have, in the past, hired in these areas.
Eloquent Technology, Inc.
They produce software that converts text to speech in various languages. This entails a lot of phonetics and phonology -- getting the spelling/punctuation rules right, to start with, then synthesizing the voice to pronounce it all by producing good approximations of formant values and other phonetic things, plus getting sentence intonation correct (my province) along with word stress and other stuff. A B.A. would be sufficient for some positions. The best qualifications would be near-native fluency in either Mandarin Chinese or Brazilian Portuguese combined with strong phonetics or phonology skills.
Based on 10 years of development at the Stanford Research Institute, Nuance technology enables people to do things that have never been done before. Our robust, enterprise-class applications are available in 10 languages and have been recognized for highly accurate speech recognition across a range of accents, languages, devices, and platforms.
Research on human-computer interaction and the design of next-generation multimodal systems, SprexTM does SPeech RECognition and Synthesis.
The Natural Language Processing group at Microsoft Research tries to design and build a computer system that will analyze, understand, and generate natural languages. Our system takes input text, and moves through various stages of linguistic processing, from lexical/morphological analysis through syntax, semantics, and eventually pragmatics and discourse. Our approach makes heavy use of the information available in online dictionaries and other written works, from which we are able to extract a rich knowledge base, which can then be used to bootstrap into increasingly more advanced stages of machine understanding. The programming system, and the underlying linguistic principles, apply to all natural languages. We are empirically oriented, and do not follow any of the currently received linguistic theories in detail. However, we are happy to use good linguistic ideas wherever they can be found. Currently, our projects include Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. We are always on the look for good linguists interested in working with us.
Panasonic employs people as "research linguists." It's a fulltime job and fairly well-paid. Here are a few of their projects: The Speech Training group is working to develop programs that kids with various types of language disabilities (hearing impairments, autism, dyslexia, etc.) can use to improve their speech. These programs are basically computer games that kids play. For instance, there's a basketball game that kids use to gauge the amount of plosion they produce, and if they produce the correct amount, the ball goes into the basket.
This same group is working on a device that helps alaryngeal speakers sound natural. They analyze speech of people with no larynx to see exactly how it differs from "normal" speech, and how it can be improved.
The Synthesis group is developing a concatenative speech synthesizer that Panasonic will market for all kinds of different applications -- car navigation, reading for the visually impaired, etc. Everyone else in this group is either an engineer or a computer person; the linguist figures out what segments to use as source characteristics to provide natural-sounding intonation, etc. It's like building a language from scratch.
General Magic has hired dialog designers. Work with a team of dialog designers and engineers to design and develop voice user interface applications, products and tools. Job duties include: designing dialogs, programming in Voice XML, writing voice recognition grammars, working with voice talent to records audio files, training others in how to design voice user interface systems that sound linguistically natural and have personality... Bachelors or Masters degree in Linguistics preferred.
The Text Analysis and Language Engineering project at IBM Research, in New York, hired a computational linguist or lexicographer who is responsible for a focused activity leading to the design and implementation of a functionally complete library of linguistic resources for American English.
ISOQuest Inso Corporation, a publisher of electronic reference databases located in Boston, MA, has hired linguists with data conversion skills to convert electronic bilingual and multilingual dictionaries to SGML.
Synthesys Technologies, a health information management company, has hired Linguistic researchers.
Perspecta Infonautics. This is a company that creates products to search and sort through information on the WWW and create summaries.
amazon.com has hired developers with a head for natural language and information retrieval.
Have hired U.S. Citizens with Native Level proficiency in Korean, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. OR intelligent people who are interested in learning any of a variety of languages at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey CA. These are jobs for service in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence field. It is not for people looking to teach or people hoping for enrollment as a civilian.
Transparent Language products include the award-winning LanguageNow! series of computer-aided language-learning products, along with its numerous add-on Titles; WordAce!Talking Translation Dictionary and GrammarPro! reference series; and Easy Translator and Transcend translation software. For more information on our company, please visit our web site at www.transparent.com
The Learning Company's Foreign Language Division has hired Content Specialists with outstanding written and oral skills in English and one or more other languages. Ability to work successfully in a development-team environment, write engaging, pedagogically sound content within parameters set by others, and work with outside developers and translators is important. Responsible for accuracy and cultural appropriateness of all spoken and onscreen content and peripheral publications. Good working knowledge of Windows, databases and educational software. Strong interest in FL pedagogy and familiarity with current trends. Minimum of 3 years teaching experience.
CoGenTex is a small company specialized in text generation. They have hired syntacticians to work on their grammar of English. Their grammar is a multistratal dependency grammar based on Melcuk's Meaning-Text Theory (Melcuk 1988). However, no special knowledge of dependency grammar is needed, assuming a reasonable understanding of syntax and a native-speaker command of English.