What’s It Like to Work as a Computer Linguist
The IT industry is rapidly developing and incorporating new professions. Zoya Mazunina and Arina Mosyagina, linguists with Seldon and graduates of the HSE University Fundamental and Applied Linguistics programme, met with university applicants to talk about the computer linguist profession, issues of automatic language processing, and how linguists use the knowledge they gain at HSE University.
‘While still at university, students should understand what their job prospects are. This will help them figure out which of the skills they have acquired will come in handy, and what other skills would be good to master,’ explains Zoya Mazunina.
The main curriculum for the Computer Linguistics track includes a number of subjects that are incredibly useful for computer linguists, such as Natural Language Processing and Linguistic Systems Design. The latter gets students fully immersed in the development of a natural language processing system, from text gathering and analysis to the presentation of the final product. In addition, knowledge of SQL database queries is very useful in the work of a computer linguist, particularly at Seldon. Senior students can gain this knowledge in one of the programme’s optional courses.
During the meeting, applicants asked many questions, as they were eager to know which of the knowledge and skills offered by the programme they would be able to use in their future work.
We told the applicants about different projects at Seldon to show them that there is something interesting for everyone, even within the same profession. Our company employs linguists for all kinds of texts and a wide range of tasks: from marking up texts to monitoring and full analysis of natural language processing tools. Those who are more confident at foreign languages than programming will be busy translating and localising services. This field is now popular and very much in demand with IT companies.
Interdisciplinary professions at the interface of technical fields and humanities are becoming more and more popular every year. Fundamental and Applied Linguistics is an HSE University bachelor’s programme that trains linguists who understand technical processes and have programming skills.
Valentina Kulikova, Candidate of Philological Sciences, Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities
Many of our students and graduates work as technical writers—specialists at creating high-quality and user-friendly texts in IT projects. Linguists with programming skills are also needed to create automatic translation systems, voice assistants, chatbots, and natural language processing programmes.
The programme gives students opportunities to try similar projects. Our students regularly land internships in Nizhny Novgorod IT companies such as Seldon, Lad, and Orion Innovation.
On the other hand, programming skills and knowledge of computer tools are handy even for linguists who do not go directly into IT. These skills allow for better research, and help in linguistic expertise and lexicographic activities when compiling dictionaries. Many of the tasks that linguists used to perform ‘manually’ can now be done by our students faster and easier using automated methods.
Fundamental and Applied Linguistics has two tracks:
- Computer linguistics (aimed at developers of electronic linguistic systems)
- Applied and theoretical language studies (aimed at foreign language teachers, teachers of Russian as a second language, translators, and forensic linguists)
Graduates of the programme are sought after among companies that use computer-based linguistic technologies, IT companies and organisations that use applied linguistics and textual analytics. The programme’s regular partners are Seldon, Orion Innovation, Oxford, and the ESIN Group of expert companies.
Admissions to the bachelor's programme in Fundamental and Applied Linguistics are open until August 29.
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