Linguistics is the study of language: how we use language to communicate and how languages are constructed. Language is examined as both a cognitive and social phenomenon. Important questions raised in research range from how individuals acquire a language to how languages develop and change over time. Linguistics concentrates on issues that are common for all human languages and questions regarding how languages should be analyzed and described in general terms. In this way, general linguistics complements research about individual languages and research into specific language families.

A language can be analyzed in terms of phonetics (sound production and sound perception), phonology (systematic organization of sound variations in a language) and grammar, which is further divided into morphology (the inflection and formation of words) and syntax (the structure and formation of phrases, clauses and sentences). The meanings of words and expressions and language use in context are examined within semantics and pragmatics. Discourse analysis focuses on the dynamics of conversation and the structure of texts. Students will be exposed to various methods of linguistic research as well as additional domains such as sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics.

The field of linguistics is interdisciplinary. Its relevance can be seen in relation to not only individual languages but also to pedagogy, literary studies, psychology, sociology, medicine and healthcare, philosophy and history. At our department linguistics can be combined with information technology within the research area of language technology and computational linguistics.


Swahili is the most widespread African language south of the Sahara. Swahili, a Bantu language, is the official and national language of Tanzania, the national language of Kenya as well as a lingua franca in larger parts of Burundi, Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zaire and Zambia. Subject studies include the modern literary language (Standard Swahili) and various dialects in both classical and modern forms.

Modern Swahili is going through a dynamic process of development. The language is standardized and complex with many noun classes instead of grammatical gender. The early Swahili literature includes fiction writing, primarily poetic, but there are also several chronicles of the East African coastal region’s history, mythology and religion.

Last modified: 2021-12-02