Linguistics is the scientific study of language in all its aspects: how is this complex of knowledge and mental abilities structured? How is it deployed in the production and understanding of messages? How are languages acquired by children despite limited and incomplete experience? How do they evolve from generation to generation? Linguists study the properties common to all languages and those that vary between one language and another. They are also interested in computational and quantitative modeling of language.
The linguistics department at the UniGe occupies a privileged place in the history of modern linguistics because it was in Geneva that Ferdinand de Saussure laid the foundations of Structuralism at the beginning of the 20th century. Currently, the department of linguistics is the only one in Switzerland to offer a complete training (ranging from BA to doctorate) in formal linguistics, resulting from the cognitivist revolution of the second half of the last century and associated with the founding work of Noam Chomsky.