Linguistics

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This article is about the field of study. Linguistics_sentence_0

For the journal, see Linguistics (journal). Linguistics_sentence_1

"Linguist" redirects here. Linguistics_sentence_2

For other uses, see Linguist (disambiguation). Linguistics_sentence_3

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguistics_sentence_4

It involves an analysis of language form, language meaning, and language in context, as well as an analysis of the social, cultural, historical, and political factors that influence language. Linguistics_sentence_5

Linguists traditionally analyse human language by observing the relationship between sound and meaning. Linguistics_sentence_6

Meaning can be studied in its directly spoken or written form through the field of semantics, as well as in its indirect form through body language and gestures under the discipline of pragmatics. Linguistics_sentence_7

Each speech sound particle is called a phoneme. Linguistics_sentence_8

How these phonemes are organised to convey meaning depends on various linguistic patterns and structures that theoretical linguists describe and analyse. Linguistics_sentence_9

Some of these patterns of sound and meaning are found in the study of morphology (concerning how words are formulated through "morphemes"), syntax (how sentences are logically structured), and phonology (the study of sound patterns). Linguistics_sentence_10

The emergence of historical and evolutionary linguistics has also led to a greater focus over studying how languages change and grow, particularly over an extended period of time. Linguistics_sentence_11

Sociolinguists also study how language develops among different communities through dialects, and how each language changes, grows, and varies from person to person and group to group. Linguistics_sentence_12

Macrolinguistic concepts include the study of narrative theory, stylistics, discourse analysis, and semiotics. Linguistics_sentence_13

Microlinguistic concepts, on the other hand, involve the analysis of grammar, speech sounds, palaeographic symbols, connotation, and logical references, all of which can be applied to lexicography, editing, language documentation, translation, as well as speech-language pathology (a corrective method to cure phonetic disabilities and disfunctions). Linguistics_sentence_14

The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī. Linguistics_sentence_15

Today, modern-day theories on grammar employ many of the principles that were laid down back then. Linguistics_sentence_16

Major subdisciplines Linguistics_section_0

Historical linguistics Linguistics_section_1

Main article: Historical linguistics Linguistics_sentence_17

Historical linguistics is the study of language change, particularly with regards to a specific language or a group of languages. Linguistics_sentence_18

Western trends in historical linguistics date back to roughly the late 18th century, when the discipline grew out of philology (the study of ancient texts and documents). Linguistics_sentence_19

Historical linguistics emerged as one of the first few sub-disciplines in the field, and was most widely practiced during the late 19th century. Linguistics_sentence_20

Despite a shift in focus in the twentieth century towards formalism and generative grammar, which studies the universal properties of language, historical research today still remains a significant field of linguistic inquiry. Linguistics_sentence_21

Subfields of the discipline include language change and grammaticalisation. Linguistics_sentence_22

Historical linguistics studies language change either diachronically (through a comparison of different time periods in the past and present) or in a synchronic manner (by observing developments between different variations that exist within the current linguistic stage of a language). Linguistics_sentence_23

At first, historical linguistics served as the cornerstone of comparative linguistics, which involves a study of the relationship between different languages. Linguistics_sentence_24

During this time, scholars of historical linguistics were only concerned with creating different categories of language families, and reconstructing prehistoric proto languages by using the comparative method and the method of internal reconstruction. Linguistics_sentence_25

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. Linguistics_sentence_26

The reason for this had been to describe well-known Indo-European languages, many of which used to have long written histories. Linguistics_sentence_27

Scholars of historical linguistics also studied Uralic languages, another European language family for which very little written material existed back then. Linguistics_sentence_28

After this, there was significant work that followed on the corpora of other languages too, such as that of the Austronesian languages as well as of Native American language families. Linguistics_sentence_29

The above approach of comparativism in linguistics is now, however, only a small part of the much broader discipline called historical linguistics. Linguistics_sentence_30

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. Linguistics_sentence_31

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. Linguistics_sentence_32

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. Linguistics_sentence_33

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. Linguistics_sentence_34

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. Linguistics_sentence_35

Difficulty also exists in the dating of various proto languages. Linguistics_sentence_36

Even though several methods are available, only approximate results can be obtained in terms of arriving at dates for these languages. Linguistics_sentence_37

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. Linguistics_sentence_38

Syntax and morphology Linguistics_section_2

Main articles: Syntax and Morphology (linguistics) Linguistics_sentence_39

Syntax and morphology are branches of linguistics concerned with the order and structure of meaningful linguistic units such as words and morphemes. Linguistics_sentence_40

Syntacticians study the rules and constraints that govern how speakers of a language can organize words into sentences. Linguistics_sentence_41

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. Linguistics_sentence_42

While words, along with clitics, are generally accepted as being the smallest units of syntax, in most languages, if not all, many words can be related to other words by rules that collectively describe the grammar for that language. Linguistics_sentence_43

For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog and dogs are closely related, differentiated only by the plurality morpheme "-s", only found bound to noun phrases. Linguistics_sentence_44

Speakers of English, a fusional language, recognize these relations from their innate knowledge of English's rules of word formation. Linguistics_sentence_45

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. Linguistics_sentence_46

By contrast, Classical Chinese has very little morphology, using almost exclusively unbound morphemes ("free" morphemes) and depending on word order to convey meaning. Linguistics_sentence_47

(Most words in modern Standard Chinese ["Mandarin"], however, are compounds and most roots are bound.) Linguistics_sentence_48

These are understood as grammars that represent the morphology of the language. Linguistics_sentence_49

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. Linguistics_sentence_50

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. Linguistics_sentence_51

Phonological and orthographic modifications between a base word and its origin may be partial to literacy skills. Linguistics_sentence_52

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. Linguistics_sentence_53

Morphologically complex words are easier to comprehend when they include a base word. Linguistics_sentence_54

Polysynthetic languages, such as Chukchi, have words composed of many morphemes. Linguistics_sentence_55

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. Linguistics_sentence_56

The morphology of such languages allows for each consonant and vowel to be understood as morphemes, while the grammar of the language indicates the usage and understanding of each morpheme. Linguistics_sentence_57

The discipline that deals specifically with the sound changes occurring within morphemes is morphophonology. Linguistics_sentence_58

Semantics and pragmatics Linguistics_section_3

Main articles: Semantics and Pragmatics Linguistics_sentence_59

Semantics and pragmatics are branches of linguistics concerned with meaning. Linguistics_sentence_60

These subfields have traditionally been divided by the role of linguistic and social context in the determination of meaning. Linguistics_sentence_61

Semantics in this conception is concerned with core meanings and pragmatics concerned with meaning in context. Linguistics_sentence_62

Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, linguistics and anthropology. Linguistics_sentence_63

Unlike semantics, 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, 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 of the speaker, and other factors. Linguistics_sentence_64

In that respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity since meaning relies on the manner, place, time, etc. of an utterance. Linguistics_sentence_65

Phonetics and phonology Linguistics_section_4

Main articles: Phonetics and Phonology Linguistics_sentence_66

Phonetics and phonology are branches of linguistics concerned with sounds (or the equivalent aspects of sign languages). Linguistics_sentence_67

Phonetics is largely concerned with the physical aspects of sounds such as their acoustics, production, and perception. Linguistics_sentence_68

Phonology is concerned with the linguistic abstractions and categorizations of sounds. Linguistics_sentence_69

Language varieties Linguistics_section_5

Further information: Variety (linguistics) Linguistics_sentence_70

Languages exist on a wide continuum of conventionalization with blurry divisions between concepts such as dialects and languages. Linguistics_sentence_71

Languages can undergo internal changes which lead to the development of subvarieties such as linguistic registers, accents, and dialects. Linguistics_sentence_72

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. Linguistics_sentence_73

Contact varieties Linguistics_section_6

Further information: Creolistics Linguistics_sentence_74

Contact varieties such as pidgins and creoles are language varieties that often arise in situations of sustained contact between communities that speak different languages. Linguistics_sentence_75

Pidgins are language varieties with limited conventionalization where ideas are conveyed through simplified grammars that may grow more complex as linguistic contact continues. Linguistics_sentence_76

Creole languages are language varieties similar to pidgins but with greater conventionalization and stability. Linguistics_sentence_77

As children grow up in contact situations, they may learn a local pidgin as their native language. Linguistics_sentence_78

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. Linguistics_sentence_79

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. Linguistics_sentence_80

Often these varieties arise in situations of colonization and enslavement, where power imbalances prevent the contact groups from learning the other's language but sustained contact is nevertheless maintained. Linguistics_sentence_81

The subjugated language in the power relationship is the substrate language, while the dominant language serves as the superstrate. Linguistics_sentence_82

Often the words and lexicon of a contact variety come from the superstrate, making it the lexifier, while grammatical structures come from the substrate, but this is not always the case. Linguistics_sentence_83

Dialect Linguistics_section_7

A dialect is a variety of language that is characteristic of a particular group among the language's speakers. Linguistics_sentence_84

The group of people who are the speakers of a dialect are usually bound to each other by social identity. Linguistics_sentence_85

This is what differentiates a dialect from a register or a discourse, where in the latter case, cultural identity does not always play a role. Linguistics_sentence_86

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. Linguistics_sentence_87

Dialects often move on to gain the status of a language due to political and social reasons. Linguistics_sentence_88

Other times, dialects remain marginalized, particularly when they are associated with marginalized social groups. Linguistics_sentence_89

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. Linguistics_sentence_90

The popular saying that "a language is a dialect with an army and navy" is attributed as a definition formulated by Max Weinreich. Linguistics_sentence_91

Standard language Linguistics_section_8

Relativity Linguistics_section_9

As constructed popularly through the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, 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. Linguistics_sentence_92

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. Linguistics_sentence_93

While the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is an elaboration of this idea expressed through the writings of American linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, it was Sapir's student Harry Hoijer who termed it thus. Linguistics_sentence_94

The 20th century German linguist Leo Weisgerber also wrote extensively about the theory of relativity. Linguistics_sentence_95

Relativists argue for the case of differentiation at the level of cognition and in semantic domains. Linguistics_sentence_96

The emergence of cognitive linguistics in the 1980s also revived an interest in linguistic relativity. Linguistics_sentence_97

Thinkers like George Lakoff have argued that language reflects different cultural metaphors, while the French philosopher of language Jacques Derrida's writings, especially about deconstruction, 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. Linguistics_sentence_98

Structures Linguistics_section_10

Approaches Linguistics_section_11

See also: Theory of language Linguistics_sentence_99

Humanistic Linguistics_section_12

The fundamental principle of humanistic linguistics is that language is an invention created by people. Linguistics_sentence_100

A semiotic tradition of linguistic research considers language a sign system which arises from the interaction of meaning and form. Linguistics_sentence_101

The organisation of linguistic levels is considered computational. Linguistics_sentence_102

Linguistics is essentially seen as relating to social and cultural studies because different languages are shaped in social interaction by the speech community. Linguistics_sentence_103

Frameworks representing the humanistic view of language include structural linguistics, among others. Linguistics_sentence_104

Structural analysis means dissecting each linguistic level: phonetic, morphological, syntactic, and discourse, to the smallest units. Linguistics_sentence_105

These are collected into inventories (e.g. phoneme, morpheme, lexical classes, phrase types) to study their interconnectedness within a hierarchy of structures and layers. Linguistics_sentence_106

Functional analysis adds to structural analysis the assignment of semantic and other functional roles that each unit may have. Linguistics_sentence_107

For example, a noun phrase may function as the subject or object of the sentence; or the agent or patient. Linguistics_sentence_108

Functional linguistics, or functional grammar, is a branch of structural linguistics. Linguistics_sentence_109

In the humanistic reference, the terms structuralism and functionalism are related to their meaning in other human sciences. Linguistics_sentence_110

The difference between formal and functional structuralism lies in the way that the two approaches explain why languages have the properties they have. Linguistics_sentence_111

Functional explanation entails the idea that language is a tool for communication, or that communication is the primary function of language. Linguistics_sentence_112

Linguistic forms are consequently explained by an appeal to their functional value, or usefulness. Linguistics_sentence_113

Other structuralist approaches take the perspective that form follows from the inner mechanisms of the bilateral and multilayered language system. Linguistics_sentence_114

Biological Linguistics_section_13

Other linguistics frameworks take as their starting point the notion that language is a biological phenomenon in humans. Linguistics_sentence_115

Generative Grammar is the study of an innate linguistic structure. Linguistics_sentence_116

In contrast to structural linguistics, Generative Grammar rejects the notion that meaning or social interaction affects language. Linguistics_sentence_117

Instead, all human languages are based on a crystallised structure which may have been caused by a mutation exclusively in humans. Linguistics_sentence_118

The study of linguistics is considered as the study of this hypothesised structure. Linguistics_sentence_119

Cognitive Linguistics, in contrast, rejects the notion of innate grammar, and studies how the human brain creates linguistic constructions from event schemas, and the impact of cognitive constraints and biases on human language. Linguistics_sentence_120

Similarly to neuro-linguistic programming, language is approached via the senses. Linguistics_sentence_121

Cognitive linguists study the embodiment of knowledge by seeking expressions which relate to modal schemas. Linguistics_sentence_122

A closely related approach is evolutionary linguistics which includes the study of linguistic units as cultural replicators. Linguistics_sentence_123

It is possible to study how language replicates and adapts to the mind of the individual or the speech community. Linguistics_sentence_124

Construction grammar is a framework which applies the meme concept to the study of syntax. Linguistics_sentence_125

The generative versus evolutionary approach are sometimes called formalism and functionalism, respectively. Linguistics_sentence_126

This reference is however different from the use of the terms in human sciences. Linguistics_sentence_127

Methodology Linguistics_section_14

Linguistics is primarily descriptive. Linguistics_sentence_128

Linguists describe and explain features of language without making subjective judgments on whether a particular feature or usage is "good" or "bad". Linguistics_sentence_129

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. Linguistics_sentence_130

Prescription, on the other hand, is an attempt to promote particular linguistic usages over others, often favouring a particular dialect or "acrolect". Linguistics_sentence_131

This may have the aim of establishing a linguistic standard, which can aid communication over large geographical areas. Linguistics_sentence_132

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). Linguistics_sentence_133

An extreme version of prescriptivism can be found among censors, who attempt to eradicate words and structures that they consider to be destructive to society. Linguistics_sentence_134

Prescription, however, may be practised appropriately in language instruction, like in ELT, where certain fundamental grammatical rules and lexical items need to be introduced to a second-language speaker who is attempting to acquire the language. Linguistics_sentence_135

Anthropology Linguistics_section_15

The objective of describing languages is often to uncover cultural knowledge about communities. Linguistics_sentence_136

The use of anthropological methods of investigation on linguistic sources leads to the discovery of certain cultural traits among a speech community through its linguistic features. Linguistics_sentence_137

It is also widely used as a tool in language documentation, with an endeavour to curate endangered languages. Linguistics_sentence_138

However, linguistic inquiry now uses the anthropological method to understand cognitive, historical, sociolinguistic and historical processes that languages undergo as they change and evolve, as well as general anthropological inquiry uses the linguistic method to excavate into culture. Linguistics_sentence_139

In all aspects, anthropological inquiry usually uncovers the different variations and relativities that underlie the usage of language. Linguistics_sentence_140


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics.