HOME

TheInfoList



Linguistics is the scientific study of
language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original soun ...

language
, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modelling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of sp ...

phonetics
,
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language vari ...

phonology
,
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
,
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' ...

syntax
,
semantics Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including linguistic ...
, and
pragmatics In linguistics and related fields, pragmatics is the study of how context (language use), context contributes to meaning. The field of study evaluates how human language is utilized in social interactions, as well as the relationship between the ...
. Each of these areas roughly corresponds to phenomena found in human linguistic systems: sounds (and gesture, in the case of signed languages), minimal units (phonemes, words, morphemes), phrases and sentences, and meaning and use. Linguistics studies these phenomena in diverse ways and from various perspectives. Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with building models of these systems, their parts (ontologies), and their combinatorics.
Psycholinguistics Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects. The discipline is mainly concerned with the mechanisms by which language is processed and represented in the mind a ...
builds theories of the processing and production of all these phenomena. These phenomena may be studied synchronically or diachronically (through history), in monolinguals or polyglots, in children or adults, as they are acquired or statically, as abstract objects or as embodied cognitive structures, using texts (corpora) or through experimental elicitation, by gathering data mechanically, through fieldwork, or through introspective judgment tasks. Computational linguistics implements theoretical constructs to parse or produce natural language or homologues.
Neurolinguistics Neurolinguistics is the study of the Neuron, neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language. As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methods and theories from fields suc ...

Neurolinguistics
investigates linguistic phenomena by experiments on actual brain responses involving linguistic stimuli. Linguistics is related to philosophy of language, stylistics and rhetoric,
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything that communicates a Meaning (semiotics), mean ...

semiotics
,
lexicography Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a his ...

lexicography
, and translation.


Major subdisciplines


Historical linguistics

Historical linguistics is the study of language change, particularly with regard to a specific language or a group of languages.
Western trends
Western trends
in historical linguistics date back to roughly the late 18th century, when the discipline grew out of
philology Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
(the study of ancient texts and
antique A true antique ( la, antiquus; 'old', 'ancient') is an item perceived as having value because of its aesthetic or historical significance, and often defined as at least 100 years old (or some other limit), although the term is often used loose ...
documents). Historical linguistics emerged as one of the first few sub-disciplines in the field, and was most widely practiced during the late 19th century. Despite a shift in focus in the twentieth century towards
formalism Formalism may refer to: * Form (disambiguation) * Formal (disambiguation) * Legal formalism, legal positivist view that the substantive justice of a law is a question for the legislature rather than the judiciary * Formalism (linguistics) * Scienti ...
and
generative grammar Generative grammar is a concept in generative linguistics, a linguistic theory that regards linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
, which studies the
universal Universal is the adjective for universe. Universal may also refer to: Companies * NBCUniversal, a media and entertainment company ** Universal Animation Studios, an American Animation studio, and a subsidiary of NBCUniversal ** Universal TV, a te ...
properties of language, historical research today still remains a significant field of linguistic inquiry. Subfields of the discipline include
language change Language change is variation over time in a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
and
grammaticalisation In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes i ...
. Historical linguistics studies language change either diachronically (through a comparison of different time periods in the past and present) or in a
synchronic Synchronic may refer to: * ''Synchronic'' (film), a 2019 American science fiction film starring Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie * Synchronic analysis, the analysis of a language at a specific point of time * Synchronicity, the experience of two or ...
manner (by observing developments between different variations that exist within the current linguistic stage of a language). At first, historical linguistics served as the cornerstone of
comparative linguistics Comparative linguistics, or comparative-historical linguistics (formerly comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
, which involves a study of the relationship between different languages."Editors' Introduction: Foundations of the new historical linguistics." In. ''The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics'' Routledge p. 25. During this time, scholars of historical linguistics were only concerned with creating different categories of
language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original soun ...
, and reconstructing
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study ...
proto languages by using the
comparative method In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with genetic relationship (linguistics), common descent from a shared ancestor ...
and the method of
internal reconstruction Internal reconstruction is a method of reconstructing an earlier state in a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. ...
. Internal reconstruction is the method by which an element that contains a certain meaning is re-used in different contexts or environments where there is a variation in either sound or analogy. The reason for this had been to describe well-known
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. A few of these languages, su ...
, many of which used to have long written histories. Scholars of historical linguistics also studied
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family of 38 language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...

Uralic languages
, another European language family for which very little written material existed back then. After this, there was significant work that followed on the corpora of other languages too, such as that of the
Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a w ...
as well as of Native American language families. The above approach of comparativism in linguistics is now, however, only a small part of the much broader discipline called historical linguistics. The comparative study of specific Indo-European languages is considered a highly specialised field today, while comparative research is carried out over the subsequent internal developments in a language. In particular, it is carried out over the development of modern standard varieties of languages, or over the development of a language from its standardised form to its varieties. For instance, some scholars also undertook a study attempting to establish super-families, linking, for example, Indo-European, Uralic, and other language families to
Nostratic Nostratic is a hypothetical macrofamily, which includes many of the indigenous language families of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, North ...
. While these attempts are still not widely accepted as credible methods, they provide necessary information to establish relatedness in language change, something that is not easily available as the depth of time increases. The time-depth of linguistic methods is generally limited, due to the occurrence of chance word resemblances and variations between language groups, but a limit of around 10,000 years is often assumed for the functional purpose of conducting research. Difficulty also exists in the dating of various proto languages. Even though several methods are available, only approximate results can be obtained in terms of arriving at dates for these languages. Today, with a subsequent re-development of grammatical studies, historical linguistics studies the change in language on a relational basis between dialect to dialect during one period, as well as between those in the past and the present period, and looks at evolution and shifts taking place morphologically, syntactically, as well as phonetically.


Syntax and morphology

Syntax and morphology are branches of linguistics concerned with the order and structure of meaningful linguistic units such as words and
morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A l ...
. Syntacticians study the rules and constraints that govern how speakers of a language can organize words into sentences. Morphologists study similar rules for the order of morphemes—sub-word units such as prefixes and suffixes—and how they may be combined to form words. While words, along with
clitic In morphology and syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word ...
s, are generally accepted as being the smallest units of
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' ...

syntax
, in most languages, if not all, many words can be related to other words by rules that collectively describe the
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
for that language. For example,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
speakers recognize that the words ''dog'' and ''dogs'' are closely related, differentiated only by the
plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun typically denotes a quantity greater than the default qua ...

plural
ity
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language. A morpheme is not necessarily the same as a word. The main difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, but a word ...
"-s", only found
bound Bound or bounds may refer to: Mathematics * Bound variable * Upper and lower bounds, observed limits of mathematical functions Geography *Bound Brook (Raritan River), a tributary of the Raritan River in New Jersey *Bound Brook, New Jersey, a borou ...
to
noun phraseA noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun (or indefinite pronoun) as its head (linguistics), head or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common linguistic typology, cross-linguistically, and t ...
s. Speakers of English, a
fusional language Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express dif ...
, recognize these relations from their innate knowledge of English's rules of
word formation In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
. They infer intuitively that ''dog'' is to ''dogs'' as ''cat'' is to ''cats''; and, in similar fashion, ''dog'' is to ''dog catcher'' as ''dish'' is to ''dishwasher''. By contrast,
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
has very little morphology, using almost exclusively unbound morphemes ("free" morphemes) and depending on
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
to convey meaning. (Most words in modern
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Mandarin and other varieties of C ...
Mandarin" however, are
compounds Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
and most
roots A root is the part of a plant that most often lies below the surface of the soil but can also be aerial or aerating, that is, growing up above the ground or especially above water. Root or roots may also refer to: Art, entertainment, and media * ...
are bound.) These are understood as grammars that represent the morphology of the language. The rules understood by a speaker reflect specific patterns or regularities in the way words are formed from smaller units in the language they are using, and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation within and across languages and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.
Phonological Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language vari ...
and orthographic modifications between a base word and its origin may be partial to
literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionaries. Correspondingly, the term ''illiteracy'' is considered to be the inability to read an ...
skills. Studies have indicated that the presence of modification in phonology and orthography makes morphologically complex words harder to understand and that the absence of modification between a base word and its origin makes morphologically complex words easier to understand. Morphologically complex words are easier to comprehend when they include a base word.
Polysynthetic language In linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e. languages in which words are composed of many morphemes (word parts that have independent meaning but may or may not be able to stand alone). They are very high ...
s, such as
Chukchi Chukchi may refer to: *Chukchi people *Chukchi language *Chukchi Peninsula *Chukchi Sea See also

*Chukotka (disambiguation) *Chukotsky (disambiguation) {{Disambig, geo Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
, have words composed of many morphemes. The Chukchi word "təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən", for example, meaning "I have a fierce headache", is composed of eight morphemes ''t-ə-meyŋ-ə-levt-pəγt-ə-rkən'' that may be glossed. The morphology of such languages allows for each
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of th ...
and
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...

vowel
to be understood as
morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A l ...
, while the grammar of the language indicates the usage and understanding of each morpheme. The discipline that deals specifically with the sound changes occurring within morphemes is
morphophonology Morphophonology (also morphophonemics or morphonology) is the branch of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and ...
.


Semantics and pragmatics

Semantics and pragmatics are branches of linguistics concerned with meaning. These subfields have traditionally been divided according to aspects of meaning thought to arise from the grammar versus linguistic and social context. Semantics in this conception is concerned with grammatical and lexical meanings and pragmatics concerned with meaning in context. The framework of formal semantics studies the
denotation Denotation is a translation of a sign to its meaning, precisely to its literal meaning, more or less like dictionaries try to define it. Denotation is sometimes contrasted to connotation, which includes associated meanings. The denotational mea ...
s of sentences and the way they are composed from the meanings of their constituent expressions. Formal semantics draws heavily on
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, E ...
and uses formal tools from
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit ...

logic
and
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of Algorithm, algorithmic proc ...
. Cognitive semantics ties linguistic meaning to general aspects of cognition, drawing on ideas from
cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and u ...
such as
prototype theory Prototype theory is a theory of categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as Object (philosophy), objects, events, or ...
. Pragmatics encompasses phenomena such as
speech act In the philosophy of language In analytic philosophy, philosophy of language investigates the nature of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed langu ...
s,
implicature An implicature is something the speaker suggests or implies with an utterance, even though it is not literally expressed. Implicatures can aid in communicating more efficiently than by explicitly saying everything we want to communicate. This pheno ...
, and talk in interaction.Mey, Jacob L. (1993) ''Pragmatics: An Introduction''. Oxford: Blackwell (2nd ed. 2001). Unlike
semantics Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including linguistic ...
, which examines meaning that is conventional or "coded" in a given language, pragmatics studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on structural and linguistic knowledge (
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
,
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and l ...

lexicon
, etc.) of the speaker and listener but also on the context of the utterance, any pre-existing knowledge about those involved, the inferred
intent Intention is a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future The future is the time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur ...
of the speaker, and other factors. In that respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent
ambiguity Ambiguity is a type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty. It is thus an attribute of any idea or statement who ...
since meaning relies on the manner, place, time, etc. of an utterance.


Phonetics and phonology

Phonetics and phonology are branches of linguistics concerned with sounds (or the equivalent aspects of sign languages). Phonetics is largely concerned with the physical aspects of sounds such as their articulation, acoustics, production, and perception. Phonology is concerned with the linguistic abstractions and categorizations of sounds.


Typology


Language varieties

Languages exist on a wide continuum of conventionalization with blurry divisions between concepts such as dialects and languages. Languages can undergo internal changes which lead to the development of subvarieties such as linguistic registers, accents, and dialects. Similarly, languages can undergo changes caused by contact with speakers of other languages, and new language varieties may be born from these contact situations through the process of language genesis.


Contact varieties

Contact varieties such as pidgins and creoles are language varieties that often arise in situations of sustained contact between communities that speak different languages.
Pidgin A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several lang ...

Pidgin
s are language varieties with limited conventionalization where ideas are conveyed through simplified grammars that may grow more complex as linguistic contact continues.
Creole language Creole may refer to: Anthropology * Creole peoples, ethnic groups which originated from linguistic, cultural, and racial mixing between colonial-era emigrants from Europe with non-European peoples * Criollo people, the historic name of people ...
s are language varieties similar to pidgins but with greater conventionalization and stability. As children grow up in contact situations, they may learn a local pidgin as their native language. Through this process of acquisition and transmission, new grammatical features and lexical items are created and introduced to fill gaps in the pidgin eventually developing into a complete language. Not all language contact situations result in the development of a pidgin or creole, and researchers have studied the features of contact situations that make contact varieties more likely to develop. Often these varieties arise in situations of
colonization Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their or their ancestors' former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such links ...
and
enslavement Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
, where power imbalances prevent the contact groups from learning the other's language but sustained contact is nevertheless maintained. The subjugated language in the power relationship is the
substrate language In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
, while the dominant language serves as the
superstrate In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
. Often the words and lexicon of a contact variety come from the superstrate, making it the
lexifier A lexifier is the language that provides the basis for the majority of a pidgin or creole language's vocabulary (lexicon). Often this language is also the dominant, or superstrate language, though this is not always the case, as can be seen in the ...
, while grammatical structures come from the substrate, but this is not always the case.


Dialect

A dialect is a
variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
of
language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original soun ...

language
that is characteristic of a particular group among the language's speakers. The group of people who are the speakers of a dialect are usually bound to each other by social identity. This is what differentiates a dialect from a
register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * Register (music), the relative "height" or range of a note, melody, part, instrument, etc. * ''Regis ...
or a
discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and discourse analysis. Fo ...
, where in the latter case, cultural identity does not always play a role. Dialects are speech varieties that have their own grammatical and phonological rules, linguistic features, and stylistic aspects, but have not been given an official status as a language. Dialects often move on to gain the status of a language due to political and social reasons. Other times, dialects remain marginalized, particularly when they are associated with marginalized social groups. Differentiation amongst dialects (and subsequently, languages) is based upon the use of grammatical rules, syntactic rules, and stylistic features, though not always on lexical use or vocabulary. The popular saying that " a language is a dialect with an army and navy" is attributed as a definition formulated by
Max Weinreich Max Weinreich (russian: Мейер Лазаревич Вайнрайх, ''Meyer Lazarevich Vaynraykh''; 22 April 1894 – 29 January 1969) was a Russian Jewish The history of the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pr ...
.


Standard language

When a dialect is documented sufficiently through the linguistic description of its grammar, which has emerged through the consensual laws from within its community, it gains political and national recognition through a country or region's policies. That is the stage when a language is considered a
standard variety A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a population for public communication. The term ''standard langua ...
, one whose grammatical laws have now stabilised from within the consent of
speech community Arnold Lakhovsky, ''The Conversation'' (circa 1935) A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the use of language. It is a concept mostly associated with sociolinguistics Sociolingui ...
participants, after sufficient evolution, improvisation, correction, and growth. The English language, besides perhaps the French language, may be examples of languages that have arrived at a stage where they are said to have become standard varieties.


Relativity

As constructed popularly through the
Sapir–Whorf hypothesis The hypothesis of linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis , the Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language A language is a structured system of communication used b ...
, relativists believe that the structure of a particular language is capable of influencing the cognitive patterns through which a person shapes his or her
world view upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the whole of the individual's or society's knowledge and ...
. Universalists believe that there are commonalities between human perception as there is in the human capacity for language, while relativists believe that this varies from language to language and person to person. While the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is an elaboration of this idea expressed through the writings of American linguists
Edward Sapir Edward Sapir (; January 26, 1884 – February 4, 1939) was an American Jewish anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, soci ...

Edward Sapir
and
Benjamin Lee Whorf Benjamin Lee Whorf (; April 24, 1897 – July 26, 1941) was an American linguist and fire prevention engineer. Whorf is widely known as an advocate for the idea that differences between the structures of different languages shape how their spea ...
, it was Sapir's student
Harry HoijerHarry Hoijer (September 6, 1904 – March 11, 1976) was a linguist and anthropologist who worked on primarily Athabaskan languages and culture. He additionally documented the Tonkawa language, which is now extinct Extinction is the termination ...
who termed it thus. The 20th century German linguist
Leo Weisgerber Johann Leo Weisgerber (25 February 1899, Metz Metz ( , , ; lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle (river), Moselle and the Seille (Moselle), Seille rivers. Metz is the Pref ...

Leo Weisgerber
also wrote extensively about the theory of relativity. Relativists argue for the case of differentiation at the level of cognition and in semantic domains. The emergence of
cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics is an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from cognitive science, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, social psychology, cognitive anthropology and linguistics. Models and theoretical ...
in the 1980s also revived an interest in linguistic relativity. Thinkers like
George Lakoff George Philip Lakoff (; born May 24, 1941) is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning ...

George Lakoff
have argued that language reflects different cultural metaphors, while the French philosopher of language
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004), born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers ...
's writings, especially about
deconstruction Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), who defined the term variously throughout his career. In its simplest form it can be ...
, have been seen to be closely associated with the relativist movement in linguistics, for which he was heavily criticized in the media at the time of his death.


Structures

Linguistic structures are pairings of meaning and form. Any particular pairing of meaning and form is a
sign A sign is an object, quality, event, or entity whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. A natural sign bears a causal relation to its object—for instance, thunder is a sign of storm, or ...
. For instance, the meaning "cat" is represented worldwide with a wide variety of different sound patterns (in oral languages), movements of the hands and face (in
sign language Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning. Sign languages are expressed through manual articulations in combination with #Non-manual elements, non-manual elements. Sign lan ...

sign language
s), and written symbols (in written languages). Linguistic patterns have proven their importance for the
knowledge engineering Knowledge engineering (KE) refers to all technical, scientific and social aspects involved in building, maintaining and using knowledge-based systems. Background Expert systems One of the first examples of an expert system In artificial intel ...
field especially with the ever-increasing amount of available data. Linguists focusing on structure attempt to understand the rules regarding language use that native speakers know (not always consciously). All linguistic structures can be broken down into component parts that are combined according to (sub)conscious rules, over multiple levels of analysis. For instance, consider the structure of the word "tenth" on two different levels of analysis. On the level of internal word structure (known as morphology), the word "tenth" is made up of one linguistic form indicating a number and another form indicating ordinality. The rule governing the combination of these forms ensures that the ordinality marker "th" follows the number "ten." On the level of sound structure (known as phonology), structural analysis shows that the "n" sound in "tenth" is made differently from the "n" sound in "ten" spoken alone. Although most speakers of English are consciously aware of the rules governing internal structure of the word pieces of "tenth", they are less often aware of the rule governing its sound structure. Linguists focused on structure find and analyze rules such as these, which govern how native speakers use language.


Grammar

Grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
is a system of rules which governs the production and use of utterances in a given language. These rules apply to sound as well as meaning, and include componential subsets of rules, such as those pertaining to
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language vari ...

phonology
(the organisation of phonetic sound systems),
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
(the formation and composition of words), and
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' ...

syntax
(the formation and composition of phrases and sentences). Modern frameworks that deal with the principles of grammar include
structural A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A sy ...
and
functional linguistics Functional linguistics is an approach to the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have ...
, and
generative linguistics In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
. Sub-fields that focus on a grammatical study of language include the following: *
Phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of sp ...

Phonetics
, the study of the physical properties of speech sound production and perception, and delves into their acoustic and articulatory properties *
Phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language vari ...

Phonology
, the study of sounds as abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning (
phonemes In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...

phonemes
) *
Morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
, the study of
morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A l ...
, or the internal structures of words and how they can be modified *
Syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' ...

Syntax
, the study of how words combine to form grammatical phrases and
sentences ''The Four Books of Sentences'' (''Libri Quattuor Sententiarum'') is a book of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), aca ...
*
Semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
, the study of lexical and grammatical aspects of meaning *
Pragmatics In linguistics and related fields, pragmatics is the study of how context (language use), context contributes to meaning. The field of study evaluates how human language is utilized in social interactions, as well as the relationship between the ...
, the study of how
utterance In spoken language A spoken language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing sy ...

utterance
s are used in communicative acts, and the role played by situational context and non-linguistic knowledge in the transmission of meaning *
Discourse analysis Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is an approach to the analysis of written, vocal, or sign language use, or any significant semiotic Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes ( semiosis), which are any ...
, the analysis of language use in texts (spoken, written, or signed) *
Stylistics Stylistics, a branch of applied linguistics Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics ...
, the study of linguistic factors (rhetoric, diction, stress) that place a discourse in context *
Semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything that communicates a Meaning (semiotics), mean ...

Semiotics
, the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication


Discourse

Discourse is language as social practice (Baynham, 1995) and is a multilayered concept. As a social practice, discourse embodies different ideologies through written and spoken texts. Discourse analysis can examine or expose these ideologies. Discourse influences genre, which is chosen in response to different situations and finally, at micro level, discourse influences language as text (spoken or written) at the phonological or lexico-grammatical level. Grammar and discourse are linked as parts of a system. A particular discourse becomes a language variety when it is used in this way for a particular purpose, and is referred to as a
register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * Register (music), the relative "height" or range of a note, melody, part, instrument, etc. * ''Regis ...
. There may be certain additions (new words) that are brought into play because of the expertise of the community of people within a certain domain of specialization. Registers and discourses therefore differentiate themselves through the use of
vocabulary A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and learning, acquiring knowledge. ...
, and at times through the use of style too. People in the medical fraternity, for example, may use some medical terminology in their communication that is specialized to the field of medicine. This is often referred to as being part of the "medical discourse", and so on.


Lexicon

The
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and l ...

lexicon
is a catalogue of words and terms that are stored in a speaker's mind. The lexicon consists of
words In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many languages, words also corres ...

words
and
bound morphemes In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
, which are parts of words that can't stand alone, like
affixes In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
. In some analyses, compound words and certain classes of idiomatic expressions and other collocations are also considered to be part of the lexicon. Dictionaries represent attempts at listing, in alphabetical order, the lexicon of a given language; usually, however, bound morphemes are not included.
Lexicography Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a his ...

Lexicography
, closely linked with the domain of semantics, is the science of mapping the words into an
encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, Ameri ...
or a
dictionary A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in wh ...
. The creation and addition of new words (into the lexicon) is called coining or neologization, and the new words are called
neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted ...
s. It is often believed that a speaker's capacity for language lies in the quantity of words stored in the lexicon. However, this is often considered a myth by linguists. The capacity for the use of language is considered by many linguists to lie primarily in the domain of grammar, and to be linked with competence, rather than with the growth of vocabulary. Even a very small lexicon is theoretically capable of producing an infinite number of sentences.


Style

Stylistics Stylistics, a branch of applied linguistics Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics ...
also involves the study of written, signed, or spoken
discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and discourse analysis. Fo ...
through varying speech communities,
genres Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use of sufficien ...
, and editorial or
narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, travelogue, etc.) or fictional (fairy tale, fable, legend, Thriller ( ...

narrative
formats in the mass media. It involves the study and interpretation of texts for aspects of their linguistic and tonal style. Stylistic analysis entails the analysis of description of particular dialects and register (sociolinguistics), registers used by speech communities. Stylistic features include rhetoric, diction, stress, satire, irony, dialogue, and other forms of phonetic variations. Stylistic analysis can also include the study of language in canonical works of literature, popular fiction, news, advertisements, and other forms of communication in popular culture as well. It is usually seen as a variation in communication that changes from speaker to speaker and community to community. In short, Stylistics is the interpretation of text. In the 1960s,
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004), born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers ...
, for instance, further distinguished between speech and writing, by proposing that written language be studied as a linguistic medium of communication in itself. Palaeography is therefore the discipline that studies the evolution of written scripts (as signs and symbols) in language. The formal study of language also led to the growth of fields like psycholinguistics, which explores the representation and function of language in the mind; neurolinguistics, which studies language processing in the brain; biolinguistics, which studies the biology and evolution of language; and language acquisition, which investigates how children and adults acquire the knowledge of one or more languages.


Approaches


Humanistic

The fundamental principle of humanistic linguistics is that language is an invention created by people. A Semiotics, semiotic tradition of linguistic research considers language a sign system which arises from the interaction of meaning and form. The organisation of linguistic levels is considered computational. Linguistics is essentially seen as relating to Sociology, social and Cultural anthropology, cultural studies because different languages are shaped in social interaction by the
speech community Arnold Lakhovsky, ''The Conversation'' (circa 1935) A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the use of language. It is a concept mostly associated with sociolinguistics Sociolingui ...
. Frameworks representing the humanistic view of language include structural linguistics, among others. Structural analysis means dissecting each linguistic level: phonetic, morphological, syntactic, and discourse, to the smallest units. These are collected into inventories (e.g. phoneme, morpheme, lexical classes, phrase types) to study their interconnectedness within a hierarchy of structures and layers. Functional analysis adds to structural analysis the assignment of semantic and other functional roles that each unit may have. For example, a noun phrase may function as the subject or object of the sentence; or the agent (grammar), agent or patient (grammar), patient. Functional linguistics, or functional grammar, is a branch of structural linguistics. In the humanistic reference, the terms structuralism and Structural functionalism, functionalism are related to their meaning in other human sciences. The difference between formal and functional structuralism lies in the way that the two approaches explain why languages have the properties they have. Functional explanation entails the idea that language is a tool for communication, or that communication is the primary function of language. Linguistic forms are consequently explained by an appeal to their functional value, or usefulness. Other structuralist approaches take the perspective that form follows from the inner mechanisms of the bilateral and multilayered language system.


Biological

Approaches such as
cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics is an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from cognitive science, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, social psychology, cognitive anthropology and linguistics. Models and theoretical ...
and
generative grammar Generative grammar is a concept in generative linguistics, a linguistic theory that regards linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
study linguistic cognition with a view towards uncovering the biology, biological underpinnings of language. In Generative Grammar, these underpinning are understood as including Linguistic nativism, innate domain-specific grammatical knowledge. Thus, one of the central concerns of the approach is to discover what aspects of linguistic knowledge are innate and which are not. Cognitive Linguistics, in contrast, rejects the notion of innate grammar, and studies how the human mind creates linguistic Construction grammar, constructions from event schema (psychology), schemas, and the impact of cognitive constraints and Cognitive bias, biases on human language. Similarly to neuro-linguistic programming, language is approached via the senses. A closely related approach is evolutionary linguistics which includes the study of linguistic units as Memetics, cultural replicators. It is possible to study how language Self-replication, replicates and Adaptation, adapts to the mind of the individual or the speech community. Construction grammar is a framework which applies the meme concept to the study of syntax. The generative versus evolutionary approach are sometimes called Structuralism (biology), formalism and Adaptationism, functionalism, respectively. This reference is however different from the use of the terms in Humanities, human sciences.


Methodology

Linguistics is primarily descriptive linguistics, descriptive. Linguists describe and explain features of language without making subjective judgments on whether a particular feature or usage is "good" or "bad". This is analogous to practice in other sciences: a zoologist studies the animal kingdom without making subjective judgments on whether a particular species is "better" or "worse" than another. Linguistic prescription, Prescription, on the other hand, is an attempt to promote particular linguistic usages over others, often favouring a particular dialect or "acrolect". This may have the aim of establishing a Standard language, linguistic standard, which can aid communication over large geographical areas. It may also, however, be an attempt by speakers of one language or dialect to exert influence over speakers of other languages or dialects (see Linguistic imperialism). An extreme version of prescriptivism can be found among censorship, censors, who attempt to eradicate words and structures that they consider to be destructive to society. Prescription, however, may be practised appropriately in language education, language instruction, like in English language teaching, ELT, where certain fundamental grammatical rules and lexical items need to be introduced to a second-language speaker who is attempting to language acquisition, acquire the language.


Sources

Most contemporary linguists work under the assumption that spoken language, spoken data and Sign language, signed data are more fundamental than written language, written data. This is because * Speech appears to be universal to all human beings capable of producing and perceiving it, while there have been many cultures and speech communities that lack written communication; * Features appear in speech which aren't always recorded in writing, including phonological rules, sound changes, and speech errors; * All natural writing systems reflect a spoken language (or potentially a signed one), even with pictographic scripts like Dongba writing Naxi language, Naxi homophones with the same pictogram, and text in writing systems used for List of languages by writing system, two languages changing to fit the spoken language being recorded; * Speech evolved before human beings invented writing; * Individuals learn to speak and process spoken language more easily and earlier than they do with writing. Nonetheless, linguists agree that the study of written language can be worthwhile and valuable. For research that relies on corpus linguistics and computational linguistics, written language is often much more convenient for processing large amounts of linguistic data. Large corpora of spoken language are difficult to create and hard to find, and are typically transcription (linguistics), transcribed and written. In addition, linguists have turned to text-based discourse occurring in various formats of computer-mediated communication as a viable site for linguistic inquiry. The study of writing systems themselves, graphemics, is, in any case, considered a branch of linguistics.


Analysis

Before the 20th century, linguists analysed language on a diachronic linguistics, diachronic plane, which was historical in focus. This meant that they would compare linguistic features and try to analyse language from the point of view of how it had changed between then and later. However, with the rise of linguistics in the 20th century, the focus shifted to a more
synchronic Synchronic may refer to: * ''Synchronic'' (film), a 2019 American science fiction film starring Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie * Synchronic analysis, the analysis of a language at a specific point of time * Synchronicity, the experience of two or ...
approach, where the study was geared towards analysis and comparison between different language variations, which existed at the same given point of time. At another level, the syntagmatic analysis, syntagmatic plane of linguistic analysis entails the comparison between the way words are sequenced, within the syntax of a sentence. For example, the article "the" is followed by a noun, because of the syntagmatic relation between the words. The paradigmatic analysis, paradigmatic plane on the other hand, focuses on an analysis that is based on the paradigms or concepts that are embedded in a given text. In this case, words of the same type or class may be replaced in the text with each other to achieve the same conceptual understanding.


History

The earliest activities in the linguistic description, description of language have been attributed to the 6th century BC, 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a Formal grammar, formal description of the Sanskrit, Sanskrit language in his '. Today, modern-day theories on generative grammar, grammar employ many of the principles that were laid down then.


Nomenclature

Before the 20th century, the term ''
philology Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
'', first attested in 1716, was commonly used to refer to the study of language, which was then predominantly historical in focus. Since Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis (linguistics), synchronic analysis, however, this focus has shifted and the term ''philology'' is now generally used for the "study of a language's grammar, history, and literary tradition", especially in the United States (where philology has never been very popularly considered as the "science of language"). Although the term ''linguist'' in the sense of "a student of language" dates from 1641, the term ''linguistics'' is first attested in 1847. It is now the usual term in English for the scientific study of language, though ''linguistic science'' is sometimes used. Linguistics is a Interdisciplinarity, multi-disciplinary field of research that combines tools from natural sciences, social sciences, formal sciences, and the humanities. Many linguists, such as David Crystal, conceptualize the field as being primarily scientific. The term ''linguist'' applies to someone who studies language or is a researcher within the field, or to someone who uses the tools of the discipline to describe and analyse specific languages.


Early grammarians

The formal study of language began in India with Pāṇini, the 6th century BC grammarian who formulated 3,959 rules of Sanskrit language, Sanskrit
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
. Pāṇini's systematic classification of the sounds of Sanskrit into
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of th ...
s and
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...

vowel
s, and word classes, such as nouns and verbs, was the first known instance of its kind. In the Middle East, Sibawayh, a Persian, made a detailed description of Arabic in AD 760 in his monumental work, ''Al-kitab fii an-naħw'' (, ''The Book on Grammar''), the first known author to distinguish between phonetics, sounds and phonology, phonemes (sounds as units of a linguistic system). Western interest in the study of languages began somewhat later than in the East, but the grammarians of the classical languages did not use the same methods or reach the same conclusions as their contemporaries in the Indic world. Early interest in language in the West was a part of philosophy, not of grammatical description. The first insights into semantic theory were made by Plato in his Cratylus (dialogue), ''Cratylus'' dialogue, where he argues that words denote concepts that are eternal and exist in the world of ideas. This work is the first to use the word etymology to describe the history of a word's meaning. Around 280 BC, one of Alexander the Great's successors founded a university (see Musaeum) in Alexandria, where a school of philologists studied the ancient texts in and taught Greek language, Greek to speakers of other languages. While this school was the first to use the word "
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
" in its modern sense, Plato had used the word in its original meaning as "Art of Grammar, téchnē grammatikḗ" (), the "art of writing", which is also the title of one of the most important works of the Alexandrine school by Dionysius Thrax. Throughout the Middle Ages, the study of language was subsumed under the topic of philology, the study of ancient languages and texts, practised by such educators as Roger Ascham, Wolfgang Ratke, and John Amos Comenius.


Comparative philology

In the 18th century, the first use of the
comparative method In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with genetic relationship (linguistics), common descent from a shared ancestor ...
by William Jones (philologist), William Jones sparked the rise of
comparative linguistics Comparative linguistics, or comparative-historical linguistics (formerly comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
. Bloomfield attributes "the first great scientific linguistic work of the world" to Jacob Grimm, who wrote ''Deutsche Grammatik''.. It was soon followed by other authors writing similar comparative studies on other language groups of Europe. The study of language was broadened from Indo-European languages, Indo-European to language in general by Wilhelm von Humboldt, of whom Bloomfield asserts:


20th-century developments

There was a shift of focus from historical and comparative linguistics to synchronic analysis in early 20th century. Structural analysis was improved by Leonard Bloomfield, Louis Hjelmslev; and Zellig Harris who also developed methods of discourse analysis. Functional analysis was developed by the Prague linguistic circle and André Martinet. As sound recording devices became commonplace in the 1960s, dialectal recordings were made and archived, and the audio-lingual method provided a technological solution to foreign language learning. The 1960s also saw a new rise of comparative linguistics: the study of language universals in linguistic typology. Towards the end of the century the field of linguistics became divided into further areas of interest with the advent of language technology and digitalised corpus linguistics, corpora.


Areas of research


Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is the study of how language is shaped by social factors. This sub-discipline focuses on the synchronic approach of linguistics, and looks at how a language in general, or a set of languages, display variation and varieties at a given point in time. The study of language variation and the different varieties of language through dialects, registers, and idiolects can be tackled through a study of style, as well as through analysis of discourse. Sociolinguists research both style and discourse in language, as well as the theoretical factors that are at play between language and society.


Developmental linguistics

Developmental linguistics is the study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly Language acquisition, the acquisition of language in childhood. Some of the questions that developmental linguistics looks into is how children acquire different languages, how adults can acquire a second language, and what the process of language acquisition is.


Neurolinguistics

Neurolinguistics is the study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication. Researchers are drawn to the field from a variety of backgrounds, bringing along a variety of experimental techniques as well as widely varying theoretical perspectives. Much work in neurolinguistics is informed by models in psycholinguistics and theoretical linguistics, and is focused on investigating how the brain can implement the processes that theoretical and psycholinguistics propose are necessary in producing and comprehending language. Neurolinguists study the physiological mechanisms by which the brain processes information related to language, and evaluate linguistic and psycholinguistic theories, using aphasiology, brain imaging, electrophysiology, and computer modelling. Amongst the structures of the brain involved in the mechanisms of neurolinguistics, the cerebellum which contains the highest numbers of neurons has a major role in terms of predictions required to produce language.


Applied linguistics

Linguists are largely concerned with finding and descriptive linguistics, describing the generalities and varieties both within particular languages and among all languages. Applied linguistics takes the results of those findings and "applies" them to other areas. Linguistic research is commonly applied to areas such as language education,
lexicography Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a his ...

lexicography
, translation, language planning, which involves governmental policy implementation related to language use, and natural language processing. "Applied linguistics" has been argued to be something of a misnomer. Applied linguists actually focus on making sense of and engineering solutions for real-world linguistic problems, and not literally "applying" existing technical knowledge from linguistics. Moreover, they commonly apply technical knowledge from multiple sources, such as sociology (e.g., conversation analysis) and anthropology. (Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics.) Today, computers are widely used in many areas of applied linguistics. Speech synthesis and speech recognition use phonetic and phonemic knowledge to provide voice interfaces to computers. Applications of computational linguistics in machine translation, computer-assisted translation, and natural language processing are areas of applied linguistics that have come to the forefront. Their influence has had an effect on theories of syntax and semantics, as modelling syntactic and semantic theories on computers constraints. Linguistic analysis is a sub-discipline of applied linguistics used by many governments to verify the claimed nationality of people seeking asylum who do not hold the necessary documentation to prove their claim. This often takes the form of an interview by personnel in an immigration department. Depending on the country, this interview is conducted either in the asylum seeker's native language through an language interpretation, interpreter or in an international ''lingua franca'' like English. Australia uses the former method, while Germany employs the latter; the Netherlands uses either method depending on the languages involved. Tape recordings of the interview then undergo language analysis, which can be done either by private contractors or within a department of the government. In this analysis, linguistic features of the asylum seeker are used by analysts to make a determination about the speaker's nationality. The reported findings of the linguistic analysis can play a critical role in the government's decision on the refugee status of the asylum seeker.


Language documentation

Language documentation combines anthropological inquiry (into the history and culture of language) with linguistic inquiry, in order to describe languages and their grammars.
Lexicography Lexicography is divided into two separate but equally important groups: * Practical lexicography is the art or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a his ...

Lexicography
involves the documentation of words that form a vocabulary. Such a documentation of a linguistic vocabulary from a particular language is usually compiled in a
dictionary A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in wh ...
. Computational linguistics is concerned with the statistical or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. Specific knowledge of language is applied by speakers during the act of translation and Language interpretation, interpretation, as well as in language education – the teaching of a second or foreign language. Policy makers work with governments to implement new plans in education and teaching which are based on linguistic research. Since the inception of the discipline of linguistics, linguists have been concerned with describing and analysing previously language documentation, undocumented languages. Starting with Franz Boas in the early 1900s, this became the main focus of American linguistics until the rise of formal linguistics in the mid-20th century. This focus on language documentation was partly motivated by a concern to document the rapidly language death, disappearing languages of indigenous peoples. The ethnographic dimension of the Boasian approach to language description played a role in the development of disciplines such as sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, and linguistic anthropology, which investigate the relations between language, culture, and society. The emphasis on linguistic description and documentation has also gained prominence outside North America, with the documentation of rapidly dying indigenous languages becoming a focus in some university programmes in linguistics. Language description is a work-intensive endeavour, usually requiring years of field work in the language concerned, so as to equip the linguist to write a sufficiently accurate reference grammar. Further, the task of documentation requires the linguist to collect a substantial corpus in the language in question, consisting of texts and recordings, both sound and video, which can be stored in an accessible format within open repositories, and used for further research.


Translation

The sub-field of translation includes the translation of written and spoken texts across media, from digital to print and spoken. To translate literally means to transmute the meaning from one language into another. Translators are often employed by organizations such as travel agencies and governmental embassies to facilitate communication between two speakers who do not know each other's language. Translators are also employed to work within computational linguistics setups like Google Translate, which is an automated program to translate words and phrases between any two or more given languages. Translation is also conducted by publishing houses, which convert works of writing from one language to another in order to reach varied audiences. Academic translators specialize in or are familiar with various other disciplines such as technology, science, law, economics, etc.


Clinical linguistics

Clinical linguistics is the application of linguistic theory to the field of speech-language pathology. Speech language pathologists work on corrective measures to treat communication disorders, communication and swallowing disorders. Chaika (1990) showed that people with schizophrenia who display speech disorders like rhyming inappropriately have attentional dysfunction, as when a patient was shown a color chip and then asked to identify it, responded "looks like clay. Sounds like gray. Take you for a roll in the hay. Heyday, May Day." The color chip was actually clay-colored, so his first response was correct.' However, most people suppress or ignore words which rhyme with what they've said unless they are deliberately producing a pun, poem or rap. Even then, the speaker shows connection between words chosen for rhyme and an overall meaning in discourse. People with schizophrenia with speech dysfunction show no such relation between rhyme and reason. Some even produce stretches of gibberish combined with recognizable words.


Computational linguistics

Computational linguistics is the study of linguistic issues in a way that is "computationally responsible", i.e., taking careful note of computational consideration of algorithmic specification and computational complexity, so that the linguistic theories devised can be shown to exhibit certain desirable computational properties and their implementations. Computational linguists also work on computer language and software development.


Evolutionary linguistics

Evolutionary linguistics is the study of the emergence of the language faculty through human evolution, and also the application of evolution, evolutionary theory to the study of cultural evolution among different languages. It is also a study of the dispersal of various languages across the globe, through movements among ancient communities. Evolutionary linguistics is a highly interdisciplinary field, including linguists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians, and others. By shifting the focus of investigation in linguistics to a comprehensive scheme that embraces the natural sciences, it seeks to yield a framework by which the fundamentals of language are understood.


Forensic linguistics

Forensic linguistics is the application of linguistic analysis to forensics. Forensic analysis investigates the style, language, lexical use, and other linguistic and grammatical features used in the legal context to provide evidence in courts of law. Forensic linguists have also used their expertise in the framework of criminal cases.


See also

* Articulatory synthesis * Axiom of categoricity * Critical discourse analysis * Cryptanalysis * Decipherment * Global language system * Hermeneutics * Integrational linguistics * Integrationism * Interlinguistics * Language engineering * Language geography * Metalinguistics * Metacommunicative competence * Microlinguistics * Onomastics * Reading * Speech processing * Stratificational linguistics * Outline of linguistics, Outline and lists ** Index of linguistics articles ** List of departments of linguistics ** List of summer schools of linguistics ** List of schools of linguistics ** List of unsolved problems in linguistics


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * *


External links


The Linguist List
a global online linguistics community with news and information updated daily

by SIL International (last updated 2004)
Glottopedia
MediaWiki-based encyclopedia of linguistics, under construction
Linguistic sub-fields
– according to the Linguistic Society of America * Linguistics and language-related wiki articles o
Scholarpedia
an
Citizendium


– A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism and Philology, ed. J.A. García Landa (University of Zaragoza, Spain) * * {{Nonverbal communication Linguistics, Cognitive science Language Indian inventions