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Linguistics

Linguistics: this short article explains Linguistics in a practical way. Besides what it is, this article also highlights the nature of language, purpose of language, tips and tricks. Have fun reading!

Linguistics: this short article explains Linguistics in a practical way. Besides what it is, this article also highlights the nature of language, purpose of language, tips and tricks. Have fun reading!

What is linguistics?

Linguistics, or linguistics, is the scientific study of language.

Linguistic studies are scientific because it involves a comprehensive, objective and systematic analysis of all aspects of language. The discipline revolves primarily around research into the nature and structure of language and focuses on both cognitive and social aspects.

Traditional areas of research within this field are:

  • Syntaxis (structure of sentences)
  • Semantics (meaning)
  • Morphology (word structure)
  • Phonetics (speech sound and gestures)
  • Phonology (abstract sound systems of particular languages)
  • Pragmatics (social influences on meaning)

Linguistics encompasses many subfields that include both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretical linguistics focuses primarily on understanding the fundamental nature of language. Applied linguistics focuses on using language for practical purposes, such as developing methods for improving language education and literacy.

Language can be studied from different perspectives. A synchronic perspective looks at language from a particular moment in time. A diachronic perspective looks at language from historical development.

Linguistics is further related to the philosophy of language, rhetorics, semiotics, lexicography and translation.

The nature of language in general

Language has fascinated researchers since time immemorial. Linguists are continuously engaged in answering important questions about language:

  • What distinguishes human language from animal communication systems?
  • What similarities in functions are there between different human languages?
  • How are speech, writing and sign language related to each other?
  • How is language related to human behavior?

What is the purpose of language?

The main purpose of language is to increase human knowledge and understanding of the world. Language is universal and fundamental to all human contact, so many practical applications automatically arise from linguistics.

Linguists are therefore interested in answering a variety of questions, such as:

  • How can an unknown language, that is not previously studied, be analyzed and understood?
  • How can foreign languages best be taught to others?
  • How can computers be programmed to understand human language?
  • How can human language problems be addressed with applications from linguistics?
  • What role does language play in legal issues?

In addition to the traditional areas of research within linguistics, as listed at the beginning of this page, there are sub-fields that have some overlap with each other.

Historical linguistics

Historical linguistics is the study of how languages change over time. This field of study deals with both the general change of language and language study, as well as the history of specific languages and language families. Well-known and lesser-known universities and colleges offer a variety of studies in historical linguistics.

Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of language on any or all aspects of a society, including cultural norms, contexts and expectations. It sometimes overlaps with sociology of language, which focuses primarily on the effect of language on society. Sociolinguistics also overlaps with pragmatics and is closely related to linguistic anthropology.

Psycholinguistics

Psycholinguistics is the study of the psychological processes that enable people to master and use language. Psycholinguists primarily research speech development and language development in people of all ages. The discipline is based on findings from linguistics.

Neurolinguistics

Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that enable the understanding and production of language. It is an interdisciplinary form of linguistics, drawing methods and theories from fields such as neuroscience, cognitive science, communication disorders and neuropsychology.

Neurolinguists primarily study the physiological mechanisms by which the brain processes information using brain imaging, electrophysiology and computer modeling. The neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) method is not related to scientific neurolinguistics.

Computational linguistics

Computational linguistics, or computational linguistics, is a specialization within linguistics that deals with understanding written and spoken language from a computational perspective. It is closely related to artificial intelligence and computer science and is further interdisciplinary because of relationships with psychology, logic and computer science.

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Linguistics tips and tricks

Articles linked to the tag linguistics, explain the different methods, theories and techniques that are a result from linguistic studies, or are used in researching different aspects of language. Are you missing any articles on topics you find interesting? Let us know in the comments or fill out the contact form.

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