Our Head of Department says:
In our languages lies our accumulated wisdom. Each language is a unique expression of the human experience of the world because it embodies information about the culture of its speakers and the knowledge acquired by previous generations. Thus, linguistic diversity constitutes one of the greatest treasures of humanity, an enormous storehouse of our cumulative knowledge of the universe. As a famous linguist once said, each time a language is lost it is “like dropping a bomb on the Louvre”.
Many scholars also believe that by studying various languages we can investigate the complexity and creative potential of the human mind. Exploring similarities and differences between languages helps us to comprehend more fully how our brain works, and ultimately what it means to be human.
The Department of Linguistics at SOAS was founded in 1932 as the first department of general linguistics in Great Britain. But we are not only the first: we are unique in this country, and perhaps internationally, because the variety of languages studied in our department is not comparable to any other linguistics department in the world. If you are fascinated by languages please do join one of our degree programmes!