The field of linguistics is the study of the patterns of sound, grammar, and meaning in languages, with the ultimate goal of explaining why those patterns take the form that they do. An important part of linguistics is to explain phenomena which are found in many or even all languages, but the ultimate goal is to understand the principles by which all linguistic structure arises.
The Department of Linguistics at Oregon is committed to the empirical study of linguistic structure, through experimental research, description of undocumented languages, analysis of variation within and across languages, and reconstruction of the history and development of languages of the world. Most Ph.D. dissertation research at Oregon is in either language documentation (usually describing undocumented languages) or experimental research (including laboratory phonology, discourse studies, gesture, and semantics). .
The Department also offers a 15-month MA with a Language Teaching Specialization (LTS). This is a terminal degree for teachers of English (equivalent to a MATESOL) and/or teachers of other languages.