Linguists study human language, seeking to define its nature, to establish its relationship to human thought, to discover what distinguishes human language from other forms of communication (human and non-human), to understand how children develop a language and acquire additional ones, to understand the ways in which languages may differ from one another, and to describe how human beings use language, in context, as they engage in all the activities also deemed "human."
Linguists today investigate many different phenomena associated with language analysis from both broadly and narrowly conceived perspectives. There are also many subfields within Linguistics, each building on one or more of the core areas within basic linguistic study. For a more detailed overview of what linguistic study entails, check out the section called "Fields of Linguistics" under the heading labeled "About Linguistics" on the Linguistic Society of America's homepage. Another helpful overview of linguistics and many of its subfields is provided by the online Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Students who opt to complete major or minor in Linguistics will complete a range of courses that both introduce the field and provide focused study in such areas as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, language acquisition, and sociolinguistics.