BA General Linguistics

At first glance, the diversity of languages is breathtaking. But what do they have in common? What are the cognitive foundations of linguistic competence? How do languages change and why? What can we infer from documented languages for languages spoken in the prehistory of humankind? In the Göttingen program "General Linguistics" students acquire techniques and theories of modern linguistics and become familiar with the analysis of languages from different parts of the world and different times.

Degree Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) on "General Linguistics" (2 subjects B.A.)
Regular duration 6 semesters
Start winter term
Teaching language German
Admission open (enrolment without previous application)

The subject "General Linguistics" covers the methods and theories of modern linguistics in its entire breadth, having the totality of the world's languages as its object of study. It comprises first of all the core disciplines of linguistics, which are dedicated to the analysis of linguistic phenomena: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Furthermore, our program introduces methods for conducting empirical investigations, such as textual investigations, linguistic fieldwork, historical corpora, and linguistic experiments. In addition, the students will be familiarized with the interfaces of linguistics with other disciplines, e.g., the cognitive foundations of language and communication in general (psycholinguistics) or the interaction between social phenomena and language (sociolinguistics). The program also conveys key competences, such as the techniques of processing language data for phonetic analyses or statistical evaluation. These skills can be used in a wide range of scientific activities and professional fields.

Slides from the information days 2024 (in German)

O-Phase: Materials about BA "General Linguistics" (German)

O-Phase 2023: Folien
O-Phase 2021: Fach (video)
O-Phase 2021: Studium (video)
O-Phase 2021: Beratung (video)
STUD-about Find more information about the contents and current fields of Linguistics, about the working techniques that are acquired during the programs of study as well as about the perspectives after studying linguistics. This website also contains videos created by students of the Institute for Linguistics as well as various informative links.

The profiles of our program offer the opportunity to acquire a further specialization. From the 3rd semester onwards, students of General Linguistics can choose between "Language Typology and Theory" and "Indo-European Linguistics".

STUD-typologyThis profile focuses on language diversity: What explains the similarities and differences between languages? Properties common to all languages lead to insights into the foundations of human cognition as well as the specific foundations of language competence. Cross-linguistic differences are informative as to the potential range of variation of language evolution in various cultural-historic conditions, as well as its limits. In this profile, students acquire techniques for working with highly diverse languages, compare familiar European languages with languages from all regions of the world, engage in documentation and analysis of endangered languages, and reflect on the impact of social factors and ongoing transformations on language use (e.g., migration and multilingualism, urbanization and dialect levelling).

modules in a nutshell

year winter termsummer term
1 foundationslinguistic structures
2 method and analysisfieldwork and typology
3 language, society, changeproject work

STUD-aigThis profile delves into historical linguistics. It focuses on the ancient Indo-European languages (such as Latin, Greek, and Old Indian), which have a long documented linguistic history and have been at the core of historical linguistics for more than 200 years. A central aim of this profile is to apply modern empirical and analytical methods of linguistics to the analysis of ancient languages. Modern empirical methods promise to unlock insights from languages that can only be approached with text-based research due to the absence of native speakers. Current linguistic theory enables us to investigate aspects of these languages that are less understood, such as the interaction of phonological or syntactic phenomena with prosody. Beyond the study of ancient Indo-European languages, this profile integrates general aspects of language change and language contact, classical analytical methods of historical linguistics such as the reconstruction of undocumented proto-languages, and current research on phylogenetics.

modules in a nutshell

year winter termsummer term
1 foundationslinguistic structures
2 indoeuropean linguisticsindoeuropean languages in detail
3 comparison and changeproject work

Foreign language skills are very important for linguistic reflection. A particularly broad spectrum of languages can be selected through the courses offered by the Linguistics Department as well as other departments of the Philosophical Faculty and the University of Göttingen.

Advice and recommendations

  • For the language competence modules, modules totaling 16 C must be successfully completed (see list in the study regulations)
  • When choosing courses, please note that English courses are not creditable.
    Please note that some courses can only be started in the winter term.
  • Courses can only be credited for one module.
  • Language courses that are part of the core curriculum of the second subject are not additionally creditable.
  • If you select the profile "Indo-European Linguistics", you will need to advance your knowledge in Ancient Indo-European languages, crucially Latin, Greek and Old Indic.

Map of language modules


The imported modules of the BA Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft contain the languages on the map (represented by a dot in the country of origin). The courses are not offered every term; please consult the term program for current offers. Further eligible courses are offered by the Center for Languages and Key Qualifications (ZESS) at the University of Göttingen (not listed below).

List of languages

The following languages are part of the imported modules of the studies program.

Altorientalistik (B.AO): Sumerian; Akkadian;

Allg. Sprachwissenschaft (B.ASp): Ancient Greek; Modern Greek dialects; Vedic; Armenian; Lithuanian; Old Irish; Dan; Urum; Yucatec Maya; Georgian; Cabécar (temporary offers within the BA or the certificate program).

Ägyptologie und Koptologie (B.AegKo): Middle Egyptian; Coptic;

Antike Kulturen (B.Antik): Hebrew; Syriac; Aramaic; Ugaritic; Greek;

Arabistik (B.Antik): Arabic; Classical Arabic;

Ethnologie (B.Eth): Bahasa Indonesia; New Guinea Pidgin; Pilipino; Swahili; Vietnamese;

Evangelische Religion (B.EvRel): New Testament Greek;

Finnougristik (B.Fin): Finnish; Hungarian;

Klassische Philologie (B.Gri, B.Lat): Latin; Modern Greek;

Indologie (B.Ind): Sanskrit; Hindi;

Iranistik (B.Ira): Modern Persian; Kurdish;

Skandinavistik (B.Ska): Danish; Norwegian; Swedish; Icelandic;

Slavistik (B.Slav): Russian; Polish; Czech; Bulgarian; Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian; Ukrainian; Old Church Slavonic;

Turkologie (B.Tur): Turkish;

Deutsche Philologie (SK.NL): Dutch;

Romanistik (B.Port/Spa/Ita/Frz): Romanian; Catalan; Italian; Portuguese; Spanish; Galician; Sardinian; French.

Through the international courses of the BA program, you will have the opportunity to practice your English skills (written and oral) and gain experience in international academic communication. As part of the BA program, knowledge of further languages, e.g., French, Spanish, and Russian, can be acquired and trained in various contexts, e.g., in the communication with speakers from different regions of the world (e.g., speakers from French-speaking West Africa or Spanish-speaking Central America) or in working with relevant linguistic literature (e.g., Russian, French, or Spanish grammars on various languages).

STUD-objectives The central didactic goal of the study program is the acquisition and practice of the competence for independent scientific work. The conception of the study program is based on student projects, creative forms of examination, modern teamwork, training in current forms of scientific communication. Courses by international guests are regularly offered in English, providing students with an excellent opportunity to train their skills in international scientific communication. The use of modern methods offers training in key competences (empirical methods, processing of linguistic data), which apply in a wide range of disciplines/professions. The professional challenge of understanding linguistic phenomena within the framework of scientific models trains analytical thinking and opens up new possibilities for complex argumentations.

STUD-perspectives General Linguistics offers a broad field of study that can be a starting point for very different specializations. The BA program offers a variety of career prospects, including Linguistic Research after an MA in linguistics, various professional fields in applied linguistics (after a follow up specialization, e.g., in intercultural communication, text technology, clinical linguistics, translation, language teaching, etc.), various professional fields in the areas of language and culture or language and communication, as well as other professional fields (e.g., various fields of communication, science-based services, publishing, translation, and processing of linguistic data). Look at our website on Perspectives after linguistics for more details.