Research Paper Topics in Linguistics


The study of linguistics analyzes the mechanics of language, its history and development and the way it is applied in modern society. Within the field of linguistics, there are many areas of study. Some linguistics scholars focus on the structure of language and how it is organized and understood. Other scholars may examine the social aspects and impacts of language. Still others may take more of an interest in the links between language and the psychological behavior of people, delving into what the way a person speaks says about how he thinks. Linguistics is a broad field with many possible research paper ideas.

Formal Linguistics

  • Formal linguistics is the study of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Phonetics is the study of the different sounds that are the building blocks of words and the physical properties behind their production. Phonology is the study of the theories of sound construction and how they apply to different languages. Morphology is the study of how words go together, and it looks at things like root words, prefixes and suffixes. Syntax is the study of sentence structure, including clauses and fragments and how they are strung together into complete thoughts. Semantics is the study of the meaning behind words and how it changes in different contexts. A linguistics student focusing on formal linguistics might consider writing a paper in any of these areas.

History of Languages

  • One fascinating area of linguistics is the study of historical languages and the effects they have on modern language. For example, Latin, ancient Greek and the old languages from the Germanic region have influenced the development of the English language, which itself has gone through a series of major shifts. The oldest version is called Old English, which was followed by Middle English and then by the current modern English spoken in many societies today. A linguistics student can find countless paper ideas that center around the history and development of modern languages.

Sociolinguistics Topics

  • The field of sociolinguistics can be divided into four major areas: language planning, language attitudes, language and social interaction and language variation. In the area of language planning, linguists assist with the formation of governmental policies regarding language usage and programs. Students focused on language attitudes study how people react to different languages and dialects. In the field of language and social interaction, the importance of context to meaning are examined. Language variation analyzes differences in language based on geography, class structures, age, occupation and other factors. A student can select a topic from any of these four divisions of sociolinguistics to build a paper around.

Psycholinguistics Subjects

  • Students of psycholinguistics usually focus on how people learn language, which is called language acquisition. Often the focus of research in this field is how children learn language, but psycholinguists also study how adults learn language. For example, one topic of study might be if an adult learns a second language better by first learning the structure of the language or by imitation and immersion, which could also be the topic of a paper in the field of psycholinguistics. Another area of study is verbal processing. In this field, students and researchers study how things like word order and choice affect comprehension.


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