Why I Majored in Linguistics

Xuehuai He ’25

Before Pomona, I had no idea what linguistics was, other than the fact that it is related to languages and its courses fulfill the Area 2 requirement. As a multilingual person, I thought I might as well take Intro Ling. That class almost completely changed my view of languages, and I loved the fact that it was extremely analytical and rigorous, yet so connected to the concrete world. As a result, I took a linguistics class every semester after that until, at some point in my sophomore year, I realized that I was not that far away from becoming a linguistics major. Hence, it is fair to say that how my linguistics major came about was purely driven by genuine interest!

My other main interest (and major) is theoretical mathematics, with which linguistics pairs well. Theoretical linguistics fields like syntax and phonology involve a lot of logical reasoning, theory framing, and pattern finding, just like mathematics (without the tedious calculations!). They also have a bit of hypothesizing and falsifying like many of the experimental sciences, but there is no expensive equipment required—all you need is the intuition that already exists in your brain! I also enjoy the social science and humanities side of linguistics, which I don't normally get in other STEM subjects, as languages are fundamentally intertwined with practically everything in society. The interdisciplinary nature of this subject means that you can always find something interesting to you in it.

The LGCS department at Pomona is really friendly and cool, filled with people who are extremely passionate about their fields. You would also encounter the most interesting double major or minor combinations ranging from English to biochemistry, as linguistics is such a diverse subject! From hour-long "nerd talks" during departmental events to thesis or advising meetings, I always feel inspired and supported by my peers and faculty in the linguistics community.