Linguistics is the scientific study of language.[1][2][3] Linguistics is based on a theoretical as well as a descriptive study of language and is also interlinked with the applied fields of language studies and language learning, which entails the study of specific languages. Before the 20th century, linguistics evolved in conjunction with literary study and did not exclusively employ scientific methods.[4]

Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to syntax (rules governing the structure of sentences), semantics (meaning), morphology (structure of words), phonetics (speech sounds and equivalent gestures in sign languages), phonology (the abstract sound system of a particular language), and pragmatics (how social context contributes to meaning).[5] Subdisciplines such as biolinguistics (the study of the biological variables and evolution of language) and psycholinguistics (the study of psychological factors in human language) bridge many of these divisions.[6]

Linguistics encompasses many branches and subfields that span both theoretical and practical applications.[7] Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with understanding the universal and fundamental nature of language and developing a general theoretical framework for describing it.[8] Applied linguistics seeks to utilise the scientific findings of the study of language for practical purposes, such as developing methods of improving language education and literacy.[9]

Linguistic features may be studied through a variety of perspectives: synchronically (by describing the shifts in a language at a certain specific point of time) or diachronically (through the historical development of language over several periods of time), in monolinguals or in multilinguals, amongst children or amongst adults, in terms of how it is being learned or how it was acquired, as abstract objects or as cognitive structures, through written texts or through oral elicitation, and finally through mechanical data collection or through practical fieldwork.[10]

Linguistics emerged from the field of philology, of which some branches are more qualitative and holistic in approach.[4] Today, philology and linguistics are now variably described as related fields, subdisciplines, or separate fields of language study but, by and large, linguistics can be seen as an umbrella term.[11] Linguistics is also related to the philosophy of language, stylistics, rhetoric, semiotics, lexicography, and translation.

  1. ^ Trask, Robert Lawrence (2007). Language and Linguistics: The Key Concepts. Taylor & Francis. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-415-41359-6. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  2. ^ Halliday, Michael A. K.; Jonathan Webster (2006). On Language and Linguistics. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-8264-8824-4.
  3. ^ "What is Linguistics? | Linguistic Society of America". Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  4. ^ a b Crystal, David (1981). Clinical linguistics. Wien: Springer-Verlag. p. 3. ISBN 978-3-7091-4001-7. OCLC 610496980. What are the implications of the term "science" encountered in the definition on p. 1? Four aims of the scientific approach to language, often cited in introductory works on the subject, are comprehensiveness, objectivity, systematicness and precision. The contrast is usually drawn with the essentially non-scientific approach of traditional language studies—by which is meant the whole history of ideas about language from Plato and Aristotle down to the nineteenth century study of language history (comparative philology).
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference akmajian was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ "Linguistics Program – Linguistics Program | University of South Carolina". Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Studying Linguistics | Linguistic Society of America". Archived from the original on 8 March 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Theoretical Linguistics". Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  9. ^ "The Fields of Applied Linguistics". Archived from the original on 21 May 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  10. ^ Francis, Alexandre (27 September 2013). Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia. SAGE Publishing. pp. 184–187. ISBN 978-1412999632.
  11. ^ "Philosophy of Linguistics". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2022. Archived from the original on 14 December 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.

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