Linguistics

Linguistics

Overview
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context.

The first is the study of language structure, or grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

. This focuses on the system of rules followed by the speakers (or hearers) of a language. It encompasses morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 (the formation and composition of words), syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences from these words), and phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 (sound systems).
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Encyclopedia
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context.

The first is the study of language structure, or grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

. This focuses on the system of rules followed by the speakers (or hearers) of a language. It encompasses morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 (the formation and composition of words), syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences from these words), and phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 (sound systems). Phonetics
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

 is a related branch of linguistics concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds and nonspeech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived.

The study of language meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

 is concerned with how languages employ logical structures and real-world references to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as to manage and resolve ambiguity
Ambiguity
Ambiguity of words or phrases is the ability to express more than one interpretation. It is distinct from vagueness, which is a statement about the lack of precision contained or available in the information.Context may play a role in resolving ambiguity...

. This subfield encompasses semantics
Semantics
Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata....

 (how meaning is inferred from words and concepts) and pragmatics
Pragmatics
Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the...

 (how meaning is inferred from context).

Language in its broader context includes evolutionary linguistics
Evolutionary linguistics
Evolutionary linguistics is the scientific study of the origins and development of language. The main challenge in this research is the lack of empirical data: spoken language leaves practically no traces. This led to an abandonment of the field for more than a century...

, which considers the origins of language; historical linguistics
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

, which explores language change; sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

, which looks at the relation between linguistic variation and social structures; psycholinguistics
Psycholinguistics
Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the...

, which explores the representation and function of language in the mind; neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language. As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methodology and theory from fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive science,...

, which looks at language processing in the brain; language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

, how children or adults acquire language; and discourse analysis
Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis , or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken, signed language use or any significant semiotic event....

, which involves the structure of texts and conversation
Conversation
Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette.Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational...

s.

Although linguistics is the scientific study of language, a number of other intellectual disciplines are relevant to language and intersect with it. Semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, for example, is the general study of signs and symbols both within language and without. Literary theorists
Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of...

 study the use of language in literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

. Linguistics additionally draws on and informs work from such diverse fields as psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, speech-language pathology, informatics
Informatics (academic field)
Informatics is the science of information, the practice of information processing, and the engineering of information systems. Informatics studies the structure, algorithms, behavior, and interactions of natural and artificial systems that store, process, access and communicate information...

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, human anatomy
Human anatomy
Human anatomy is primarily the scientific study of the morphology of the human body. Anatomy is subdivided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by the naked eye...

, neuroscience
Neuroscience
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, and acoustics
Acoustics
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics...

.

Terminology for the discipline


Before the 20th century, the term philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, first attested in 1716, was commonly used to refer to the science of language, which was then predominantly historical in focus. Since Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

's insistence on the importance of 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 it was never as popular as it was elsewhere (in the sense of 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 academic term in English for the scientific study of language.

The term linguist, used for one who studies language, applies within the field to someone who either studies linguistics or uses linguistic methodologies to study groups of languages or particular languages. Outside the field, this term is commonly used to refer to people who speak many languages fluently.

Fundamental concerns and divisions


Linguistics concerns itself with describing and explaining the nature of human language. Fundamental questions include what is universal to language, how language can vary, and how human beings come to know languages. Linguistic fields can then be broadly divided into those that distinguish themselves by a focus on linguistic structure and grammar, and those that distinguish themselves by the nonlinguistic factors they consider.

Fundamental questions


All humans achieve competence in whatever language is used around them when growing up, with little apparent need for explicit conscious instruction (setting aside extremely pathological cases). Linguists assume that the ability to acquire and use language is an innate, biologically based potential of modern human beings, similar to the ability to walk, because nonhumans do not acquire human language in this way (although many nonhuman animals can learn to respond to language, or can even be trained to use it to a degree).

There is no consensus, however, as to the extent of humans' innate potential for language, or the degree to which such innate abilities are specific to language. Some theorists claim that there is a very large set of highly abstract and specific binary settings coded into the human brain; the combinations of these settings would give rise to every language on the planet. Other linguists claim that the ability to learn language is a product of general human cognition. It is, however, generally agreed that there are no strong genetic differences underlying the differences between languages: An individual will acquire whatever language(s) he or she is exposed to as a child, regardless of parentage or ethnic origin. Nevertheless, recent research suggests that even weak genetic biases in speakers may, over a number of generations, influence the evolution of particular languages, leading to a nonrandom distribution of certain linguistic features across the world.

Divisions based on linguistic structures studied


Linguistic structures are pairings of meaning and form. Any particular pairing of meaning and form is a Saussurean
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 sign. For instance, the meaning "cat" is represented worldwide with a wide variety of different sound patterns (in spoken languages), movements of the hands and face (in signed languages), and written symbols (in written languages).

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.

Linguistics has many sub-fields concerned with particular aspects of linguistic structure. These sub-fields range from those focused primarily on form to those focused primarily on meaning. They also run the gamut of level of analysis of language, from individual sounds, to words, to phrases, up to discourse.

Sub-fields of structure-focused linguistics include:
  • Phonetics
    Phonetics
    Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

    , the study of the physical properties of speech (or signed) production and perception
  • Phonology
    Phonology
    Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

    , the study of sounds (or signs) as discrete, abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning
  • Morphology
    Morphology (linguistics)
    In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

    , the study of internal structures of words and how they can be modified
  • Syntax
    Syntax
    In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

    , the study of how words combine to form grammatical sentence
    Sentence (linguistics)
    In the field of linguistics, a sentence is an expression in natural language, and often defined to indicate a grammatical unit consisting of one or more words that generally bear minimal syntactic relation to the words that precede or follow it...

    s
  • Semantics
    Semantics
    Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata....

    , the study of the meaning of words (lexical semantics
    Lexical semantics
    Lexical semantics is a subfield of linguistic semantics. It is the study of how and what the words of a language denote . Words may either be taken to denote things in the world, or concepts, depending on the particular approach to lexical semantics.The units of meaning in lexical semantics are...

    ) and fixed word combinations (phraseology
    Phraseology
    In linguistics, phraseology is the study of set or fixed expressions, such as idioms, phrasal verbs, and other types of multi-word lexical units , in which the component parts of the expression take on a meaning more specific than or otherwise not predictable from the sum of their meanings when...

    ), and how these combine to form the meaning
    Meaning (linguistics)
    In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

    s of sentences
  • Pragmatics
    Pragmatics
    Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the...

    , the study of how utterance
    Utterance
    In spoken language analysis an utterance is a complete unit of speech. It is generally but not always bounded by silence.It can be represented and delineated in written language in many ways. Note that in such areas of research utterances do not exist in written language, only their representations...

    s are used in communicative acts, and the role played by context and nonlinguistic knowledge in the transmission of meaning
  • Discourse analysis
    Discourse analysis
    Discourse analysis , or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken, signed language use or any significant semiotic event....

    , the analysis of language use in texts
    Text (literary theory)
    A text, within literary theory, is a coherent set of symbols that transmits some kind of informative message. This set of symbols is considered in terms of the informative message's content, rather than in terms of its physical form or the medium in which it is represented...

     (spoken, written, or signed)


Many linguists would agree that these divisions overlap considerably, and the independent significance of each of these areas is not universally acknowledged. Regardless of any particular linguist's position, each area has core concepts that foster significant scholarly inquiry and research.

Divisions based on nonlinguistic factors studied


Alongside the structurally motivated domains of study are other fields of linguistics. These fields are distinguished by the kinds of nonlinguistic factors that they consider:
  • Applied linguistics
    Applied linguistics
    Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems...

    , the study of language-related issues applied in everyday life, notably language policies, planning, and education. (Constructed language
    Constructed language
    A planned or constructed language—known colloquially as a conlang—is a language whose phonology, grammar, and/or vocabulary has been consciously devised by an individual or group, instead of having evolved naturally...

     fits under Applied linguistics.)
  • Biolinguistics
    Biolinguistics
    Biolinguistics is the study of the biology and evolution of language. It is a highly interdisciplinary field, including linguists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians, and others...

    , the study of natural as well as human-taught communication systems in animals, compared to human language.
  • Clinical linguistics
    Clinical linguistics
    Clinical Linguistics is a sub-discipline of linguistics which involves the application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology. Clinical linguistics, a branch of applied linguistics, is the use of linguistics to describe, analyze, and treat language disabilities...

    , the application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
  • Computational linguistics
    Computational linguistics
    Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective....

    , the study of computational implementations of linguistic structures.
  • Developmental linguistics
    Developmental linguistics
    Developmental linguistics is the study of the development of linguistic ability in an individual, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood...

    , the study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language
    Language acquisition
    Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

     in childhood.
  • Evolutionary linguistics
    Evolutionary linguistics
    Evolutionary linguistics is the scientific study of the origins and development of language. The main challenge in this research is the lack of empirical data: spoken language leaves practically no traces. This led to an abandonment of the field for more than a century...

    , the study of the origin and subsequent development of language by the human species.
  • Historical linguistics
    Historical linguistics
    Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

     or diachronic linguistics, the study of language change over time.
  • Language geography
    Language geography
    Language geography is the branch of human geography that studies the geographic distribution of language or its constituent elements. There are two principal fields of study within the geography of language: the "geography of languages", which deals with the distribution through history and space...

    , the study of the geographical distribution of languages and linguistic features.
  • Linguistic typology
    Linguistic typology
    Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the world's languages...

    , the study of the common properties of diverse unrelated languages, properties that may, given sufficient attestation, be assumed to be innate to human language capacity.
  • Neurolinguistics
    Neurolinguistics
    Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language. As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methodology and theory from fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive science,...

    , the study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication.
  • Psycholinguistics
    Psycholinguistics
    Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the...

    , the study of the cognitive processes and representations underlying language use.
  • Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics
    Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

    , the study of variation in language and its relationship with social factors.
  • Stylistics
    Stylistics (linguistics)
    Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts from a linguistic perspective. As a discipline it links literary criticism and linguistics, but has no autonomous domain of its own...

    , the study of linguistic factors that place a discourse in context.


Semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 is not a discipline within linguistics; rather, it investigates the relationship between signs and what they signify more broadly. From the perspective of semiotics, language can be seen as a sign or symbol, with the world as its representation.

Variation and universality


Much modern linguistic research, in particular within the paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

 of generative grammar
Generative grammar
In theoretical linguistics, generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences...

, has concerned itself with trying to account for differences between languages of the world. This has worked on the assumption that, if human linguistic ability is narrowly constrained by human biology, then all languages must share certain fundamental properties.

In generativist theory
Generative grammar
In theoretical linguistics, generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences...

, the collection of fundamental properties all languages share are referred to as universal grammar
Universal grammar
Universal grammar is a theory in linguistics that suggests that there are properties that all possible natural human languages have.Usually credited to Noam Chomsky, the theory suggests that some rules of grammar are hard-wired into the brain, and manifest themselves without being taught...

 (UG). The specific characteristics of this universal grammar are a much debated topic. Typologists
Linguistic typology
Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the world's languages...

 and non-generativist linguists usually refer simply to language universals
Linguistic universal
A linguistic universal is a pattern that occurs systematically across natural languages, potentially true for all of them. For example, All languages have nouns and verbs, or If a language is spoken, it has consonants and vowels. Research in this area of linguistics is closely tied to the study of...

, or universals of language.

Similarities between languages can have a number of different origins. In the simplest case, universal properties may be due to universal aspects of human experience. For example, all humans experience water, and all human languages have a word for water. Other similarities may be due to common descent: The Latin language spoken by the Ancient Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 developed into Spanish in Spain and Italian in Italy; similarities between Spanish and Italian are thus in many cases due to their both being descended from Latin. In other cases, contact between languages
Language contact
Language contact occurs when two or more languages or varieties interact. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics.Multilingualism has likely been common throughout much of human history, and today most people in the world are multilingual...

 — in particular where many speakers are bilingual — can lead to much borrowing of structures, as well as words. Similarity may also be due to coincidence. English much and Spanish are not descended from the same form or borrowed from one language to the other; nor is the similarity due to innate linguistic knowledge (see False cognate
False cognate
False cognates are pairs of words in the same or different languages that are similar in form and meaning but have different roots. That is, they appear to be, or are sometimes considered, cognates, when in fact they are not....

).

Arguments in favor of language universals have also come from documented cases of sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

s (such as Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language
Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language
The Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language is a sign language used by about 150 deaf and many hearing members of the al-Sayyid Bedouin tribe in the Negev desert of southern Israel...

) developing in communities of congenitally deaf people, independently of spoken language. In general, the properties of these sign languages conform to many of the properties of spoken languages. Other known and suspected sign language isolates
Language isolate
A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical relationship with other languages; that is, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language. They are in effect language families consisting of a single...

 include Kata Kolok
Kata Kolok
Kata Kolok , also known as Benkala Sign Language and Balinese Sign Language, is a sign language of the village of Benkala in northern Bali, Indonesia, that has had an extraordinarily high rate of deafness for several generations...

, Nicaraguan Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language is a signed language spontaneously developed by deaf children in a number of schools in western Nicaragua in the 1970s and 1980s...

, and Providence Island Sign Language
Providence Island Sign Language
Providence Island Sign Language is the sign language used by the deaf community on the small island community of Providence Island in the Western Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua but belonging to Colombia...

.

Structures


It has been perceived that languages tend to be organized around grammatical categories such as noun and verb, nominative
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

 and accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

, or present and past, though not exclusively so. The grammar of a language is organized around such fundamental categories, though many languages express the relationships between words and syntax in other discrete ways (cf. some Bantu languages
Bantu languages
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

 for noun/verb relations, ergative-absolutive systems for case relations, several Native American languages for tense/aspect relations).

In addition to making substantial use of discrete categories, language has the important property that it organizes elements into recursive structures; this allows, for example, a noun phrase to contain another noun phrase (as in "the chimpanzee's lips") or a clause to contain a clause (as in "I think that it's raining"). Though recursion in grammar was implicitly recognized much earlier (for example by Jespersen
Otto Jespersen
Jens Otto Harry Jespersen or Otto Jespersen was a Danish linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language.He was born in Randers in northern Jutland and attended Copenhagen University, earning degrees in English, French, and Latin...

), the importance of this aspect of language became more popular after the 1957 publication of Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

's book Syntactic Structures
Syntactic Structures
Syntactic Structures is an seminal book in linguistics by American linguist Noam Chomsky, first published in 1957. It laid the foundation of Chomsky's idea of transformational grammar...

, which presented a formal grammar of a fragment of English. Prior to this, the most detailed descriptions of linguistic systems were of phonological or morphological systems.

Chomsky used a context-free grammar
Context-free grammar
In formal language theory, a context-free grammar is a formal grammar in which every production rule is of the formwhere V is a single nonterminal symbol, and w is a string of terminals and/or nonterminals ....

 augmented with transformations. Since then, following the trend of Chomskyan linguistics, context-free grammars have been written for substantial fragments of various languages (for example, GPSG
Generalised phrase structure grammar
Generalised phrase structure grammar is a framework for describing the syntax and semantics of natural languages. It is a type of phrase structure grammar, as opposed to a dependency grammar. GPSG was initially developed in the late 1970s by Gerald Gazdar. Other contributors include Ewan Klein,...

, for English). It has been demonstrated, however, that human languages (notably Dutch and Swiss German) include cross-serial dependencies, which cannot be handled adequately by context-free grammars.

Historical linguistics



Historical linguistics studies the history and evolution of languages through the comparative method
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 common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

. Often, the aim of historical linguistics is to classify languages in language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 descending from a common ancestor. This involves comparison of elements in different languages to detect possible cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

s in order to be able to reconstruct how different languages have changed
Language change
Language change is the phenomenon whereby phonetic, morphological, semantic, syntactic, and other features of language vary over time. The effect on language over time is known as diachronic change. Two linguistic disciplines in particular concern themselves with studying language change:...

 over time. This also involves the study of etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, the study of the history of single words. Historical linguistics is also called "diachronic linguistics" and is opposed to "synchronic linguistics" that study languages in a given moment in time without regarding its previous stages. In universities in the United States, the historic perspective is often out of fashion. Historical linguistics was among the first linguistic disciplines to emerge and was the most widely practiced form of linguistics in the late 19th century. The shift in focus to a synchronic perspective started with Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 and became predominant in western linguistics with Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

's emphasis on the study of the synchronic and universal aspects of language.

Semiotics



Semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 is the study of sign processes (semiosis), or signification and communication, signs, and symbols, both individually and grouped into sign systems, including the study of how meaning is constructed and understood. Semioticians often do not restrict themselves to linguistic communication when studying the use of signs but extend the meaning of "sign" to cover all kinds of cultural symbols. Nonetheless, semiotic disciplines closely related to linguistics are literary studies, discourse analysis
Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis , or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken, signed language use or any significant semiotic event....

, text linguistics
Text linguistics
Text linguistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with texts as communication systems. Its original aims lay in uncovering and describing text grammars. The application of text linguistics has, however, evolved from this approach to a point in which text is viewed in much broader terms that go...

, and philosophy of language
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language...

.

Descriptive linguistics and language documentation



Since the inception of the discipline of linguistics, linguists have been concerned with describing and documenting languages previously unknown to science. Starting with Franz Boas
Franz Boas
Franz Boas was a German-American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology who has been called the "Father of American Anthropology" and "the Father of Modern Anthropology." Like many such pioneers, he trained in other disciplines; he received his doctorate in physics, and did...

 in the early 1900s, descriptive linguistics became the main strand within American linguistics until the rise of formal structural linguistics in the mid-20th century. The rise of American descriptive linguistics was caused by the concern with describing the languages of indigenous peoples that were (and are) rapidly moving toward extinction. The ethnographic focus of the original Boasian type of descriptive linguistics occasioned the development of disciplines such as Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

, anthropological linguistics
Anthropological linguistics
Anthropological linguistics is the study of the relations between language and culture and the relations between human biology, cognition and language...

, and linguistic anthropology
Linguistic anthropology
Linguistic anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of how language influences social life. It is a branch of anthropology that originated from the endeavor to document endangered languages, and has grown over the past 100 years to encompass almost any aspect of language structure and...

, disciplines that investigate the relations between language, culture, and society.

The emphasis on linguistic description and documentation has since become more important outside of North America as well, as the documentation of rapidly dying indigenous languages has become a primary focus in many of the worlds' linguistics programs. Language description is a work intensive endeavour usually requiring years of field work for the linguist to learn a language sufficiently well to write a reference grammar of it. The further task of language documentation requires the linguist to collect a substantial corpus of texts and recordings of sound and video in the language, and to arrange for its storage in accessible formats in open repositories where it may be of the best use for further research by other researchers.

Applied linguistics



Linguists are largely concerned with finding and describing
Descriptive linguistics
In the study of language, description, or descriptive linguistics, is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is spoken by a group of people in a speech community...

 the generalities and varieties both within particular languages and among all languages. Applied linguistics
Applied linguistics
Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems...

 takes the results of those findings and "applies" them to other areas. Linguistic research is commonly applied to areas such as language education
Language education
Language education is the teaching and learning of a foreign or second language. Language education is a branch of applied linguistics.- Need for language education :...

, lexicography
Lexicography
Lexicography is divided into two related disciplines:*Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries....

, and translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

. "Applied linguistics" has been argued to be something of a misnomer, since applied linguists focus on making sense of and engineering solutions for real-world linguistic problems, not simply "applying" existing technical knowledge from linguistics; moreover, they commonly apply technical knowledge from multiple sources, such as sociology (e.g., conversation analysis) and anthropology.

Today, computers are widely used in many areas of applied linguistics. Speech synthesis
Speech synthesis
Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech. A computer system used for this purpose is called a speech synthesizer, and can be implemented in software or hardware...

 and speech recognition
Speech recognition
Speech recognition converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker—as is the case for most desktop recognition software...

 use phonetic and phonemic knowledge to provide voice interfaces to computers. Applications of computational linguistics
Computational linguistics
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective....

 in machine translation
Machine translation
Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of computer software to translate text or speech from one natural language to another.On a basic...

, computer-assisted translation
Computer-assisted translation
Computer-assisted translation, computer-aided translation, or CAT is a form of translation wherein a human translator translates texts using computer software designed to support and facilitate the translation process....

, and natural language processing
Natural language processing
Natural language processing is a field of computer science and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages; it began as a branch of artificial intelligence....

 are areas of applied linguistics that have come to the forefront. Their influence has had an effect on theories of syntax and semantics, as modeling syntactic and semantic theories on computers constraints.

Linguistic analysis is a subdiscipline of applied linguistics used by many governments to verify the claimed nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 of people seeking asylum who do not hold the necessary documentation to prove their claim. This often takes the form of an interview
Interview
An interview is a conversation between two people where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.- Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research:"Definition" -...

 by personnel in an immigration department. Depending on the country, this interview is conducted either in the asylum seeker's native language through an interpreter
Interpreting
Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages...

 or in an international lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 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.

Description and prescription


Linguistics is descriptive; linguists describe and explain features of language without making subjective judgments on whether a particular feature is "right" or "wrong". This is analogous to practice in other sciences: A zoologist studies the animal kingdom without making subjective judgments on whether a particular animal is better or worse than another.

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 linguistic standard
Standard language
A standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works...

, 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
Linguistic imperialism
Linguistic imperialism, or language imperialism, is a linguistics concept that "involves the transfer of a dominant language to other people...

). An extreme version of prescriptivism can be found among censors
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

, who attempt to eradicate words and structures that they consider to be destructive to society.

Speech and writing


Most contemporary linguists work under the assumption that spoken
Spoken language
Spoken language is a form of human communication in which words derived from a large vocabulary together with a diverse variety of names are uttered through or with the mouth. All words are made up from a limited set of vowels and consonants. The spoken words they make are stringed into...

 (or signed) language is more fundamental than written language
Written language
A written language is the representation of a language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will instinctively learn or create spoken or gestural languages....

. This is because:
  • Speech appears to be universal to all human beings capable of producing and hearing it, while there have been many culture
    Culture
    Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

    s and speech communities that lack written communication
  • Speech evolved before human beings invented writing
  • People learn to speak and process spoken languages more easily and much earlier than writing
    Writing
    Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

    .


Nonetheless, linguists agree that the study of written language can be worthwhile and valuable. For research that relies on corpus linguistics
Corpus linguistics
Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples or "real world" text. This method represents a digestive approach to deriving a set of abstract rules by which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language. Originally done by hand, corpora are now largely...

 and computational linguistics
Computational linguistics
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective....

, 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 transcribed
Transcription (linguistics)
Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of language in written form. The source can either be utterances or preexisting text in another writing system, although some linguists only consider the former as transcription.Transcription should not be confused with...

 and written. In addition, linguists have turned to text-based discourse occurring in various formats of computer-mediated communication
Computer-mediated communication
Computer-mediated communication is defined as any communicative transaction that occurs through the use of two or more networked computers...

 as a viable site for linguistic inquiry.

The study of writing systems themselves is, in any case, considered a branch of linguistics.

History


The earliest known linguistic activities date to Iron Age India
Iron Age India
Iron Age India, the Iron Age in the Indian subcontinent, succeeds the Late Harappan culture, also known as the last phase of the Indus Valley Tradition...

 (around the 8th century BC) with the analysis of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

. The Pratishakhyas were a proto-linguistic ad hoc collection of observations about mutations to a given corpus
Corpus linguistics
Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples or "real world" text. This method represents a digestive approach to deriving a set of abstract rules by which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language. Originally done by hand, corpora are now largely...

 particular to a given Vedic school
Shakha
A shakha , is a Hindu theological school that specializes in learning certain Vedic texts, or else the traditional texts followed by such a school. An individual follower of a particular school or recension is called a ...

. Systematic study of these texts gives rise to the Vedanga
Vedanga
The Vedanga are six auxiliary disciplines traditionally associated with the study and understanding of the Vedas.#Shiksha : phonetics, phonology and morphophonology #Kalpa : ritual#Vyakarana : grammar...

 discipline of Vyakarana
Vyakarana
The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of ' is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. It has its roots in late Vedic India, and includes the famous work, The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of ' is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. It has its roots in late Vedic India, and includes the famous work, ...

, the earliest surviving account of which is the work of (c. 520 – 460 BC), who looked back on what are presumably several generations of grammarians, whose opinions he occasionally refers to. formulates close to 4,000 rules that together form a compact generative grammar
Generative grammar
In theoretical linguistics, generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences...

 of Sanskrit. Inherent in his analytic approach are the concepts of the phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

, the morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

, and the root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

. Due to its focus on brevity, his grammar has a highly unintuitive structure.

Indian linguistics maintained a high level for several centuries; Patanjali in the 2nd century BC still actively criticizes Pāṇini. In the later centuries BC, Pāṇini's grammar came to be seen as prescriptive, and commentators came to be fully dependent on it. Bhartṛhari (c. 450 – 510) theorized the act of speech as being made up of four stages: first, conceptualization of an idea, second, its verbalization and sequencing (articulation), third, delivery of speech into atmospheric air, and fourth, the interpretation of speech by the listener, the interpreter.

In the West
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

, linguistics begins in Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 with grammatical speculation such as Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Cratylus
Cratylus (dialogue)
Cratylus is the name of a dialogue by Plato. Most modern scholars agree that it was written mostly during Plato's so-called middle period...

. The first important milestone in Western linguistics was the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It was used for the writing of Phoenician, a Northern Semitic language, used by the civilization of Phoenicia...

 to the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, who modified the alphabet by adding vowels, giving rise to the ancestor of all alphabets in the West. As a result of the introduction of writing, poetry such as the Homeric poems became written and several editions were created and commented, forming the basis of philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and criticism
Criticism
Criticism is the judgement of the merits and faults of the work or actions of an individual or group by another . To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice, or a disapproval.Another meaning of...

. The sophists and Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 introduced dialectics as a new text genre. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 defined the logic of speech and the argument, and his works on rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

 and poetics
Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory and the first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory...

 developed the understating of tragedy, poetry, and public discussions as text genres.

One of the greatest of the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 grammarians was Apollonius Dyscolus
Apollonius Dyscolus
Apollonius Dyscolus is considered one of the greatest of the Greek grammarians. He was born at Alexandria, son of Mnesitheus. The dates for his life are not known...

. Apollonius wrote more than thirty treatises on questions of syntax, semantics, morphology, prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

, orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

, dialectology
Dialectology
Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features...

, and more. In the 4th c., Aelius Donatus
Aelius Donatus
Aelius Donatus was a Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric. The only fact known regarding his life is that he was the tutor of St...

 compiled the Latin grammar Ars Grammatica that was to be the defining school text through the Middle Ages. In De vulgari eloquentia
De vulgari eloquentia
De vulgari eloquentia is the title of an essay by Dante Alighieri, written in Latin and initially meant to consist of four books, but abandoned in the middle of the second. It was probably composed shortly after Dante went into exile; internal evidence points to a date between 1302 and 1305...

 ("On the Eloquence of Vernacular"), Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 expanded the scope of linguistic enquiry from the traditional languages of antiquity to include the language of the day.

In China, linguistics starts with the development of Xiaoxue (小學 "elementary studies"), which began as an aid to understanding classics in the Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (c. 3d c. BCE). Early Chinese philologists included Yang Xiong, who studied the linguistic geography of China, Xu Shen, a lexicographer, and the phonologist Chen Di, who pioneered the study of Old Chinese
Old Chinese
The earliest known written records of the Chinese language were found at a site near modern Anyang identified as Yin, the last capital of the Shang dynasty, and date from about 1200 BC....

. Xiaoxue came to be divided into three branches: Xungu (訓詁 "exegesis"), Wenzi (文字 "script [analysis]") and Yinyun (音韻 "[study of] sounds") and reached its golden age in the 17th. c. AD (Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

). The advent of character glossaries and vocabularies during the Han Dynasty, including Sima Xiangru's The General Primer, Shi You's The Instant Primer, and Li Chang's The Yuanshang Primer, greatly contributed to the development of Chinese philology.
The Chinese study of phonology appeared later, and was heavily influenced by Indian philology.

In the Middle East, the Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 linguist Sibawayh
Sibawayh
Abū Bishr ʻAmr ibn ʻUthmān ibn Qanbar Al-Bishrī , commonly known as Sībawayh , was an influential linguist and grammarian of the Arabic language. He was of Persian origin born ca...

 made a detailed and professional description of Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 in 760, in his monumental work, Al-kitab fi al-nahw (الكتاب في النحو, The Book on Grammar), bringing many linguistic aspects of language to light. In his book, he distinguished phonetics
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

 from phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

.

Sir William Jones
William Jones (philologist)
Sir William Jones was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages...

 noted that Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 shared many common features with classical Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, notably verb roots and grammatical structures, such as the case system. This led to the theory that all languages sprang from a common source and to the discovery of the Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

. He began the study of comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

, which would uncover more language families and branches.

In 19th-century Europe, the study of linguistics was largely from the perspective of philology (or historical linguistics). Some early-19th-century linguists were Jakob Grimm, who devised a principle of consonantal shifts in pronunciation – known as Grimm's Law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

 – in 1822; Karl Verner
Karl Verner
Karl Verner was a Danish linguist. He is remembered today for Verner's law, which he discovered in 1875.Verner, whose interest in languages was stimulated by reading about the work of Rasmus Christian Rask, began his university studies in 1864. He studied Oriental, Germanic and Slavic languages,...

, who formulated Verner's Law
Verner's law
Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

; August Schleicher
August Schleicher
August Schleicher was a German linguist. His great work was A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European Languages, in which he attempted to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-European language...

, who created the "Stammbaumtheorie" ("family tree"); and Johannes Schmidt
Johannes Schmidt (linguist)
Johannes Friedrich Heinrich Schmidt was a German linguist. He developed the Wellentheorie of language development.-Biography:Schmidt was born in Prenzlau, Province of Brandenburg...

, who developed the "Wellentheorie" ("wave model") in 1872.

Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 was the founder of modern structural linguistics, with an emphasis on synchronic (i.e., nonhistorical) explanations for language form.

In North America, the structuralist tradition grew out of a combination of missionary linguistics (whose goal was to translate the Bible) and anthropology. While originally regarded as a sub-field of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 in the United States, linguistics is now considered a separate scientific discipline in the US, Australia, and much of Europe.

Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics....

, a writer in American structural linguistics, was one of the first who explored the relations between language studies and anthropology. His methodology had some influence on all his successors. Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

's formal model of language, transformational-generative grammar, developed under the influence of his teacher Zellig Harris
Zellig Harris
Zellig Sabbettai Harris was a renowned American linguist, mathematical syntactician, and methodologist of science. Originally a Semiticist, he is best known for his work in structural linguistics and discourse analysis and for the discovery of transformational structure in language...

, who was in turn strongly influenced by Leonard Bloomfield
Leonard Bloomfield
Leonard Bloomfield was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. His influential textbook Language, published in 1933, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics...

, has been the dominant model since the 1960s.

The structural linguistics period was largely superseded in North America by generative grammar in the 1950s and 1960s. This paradigm views language as a mental object, and emphasizes the role of the formal modeling of universal, and language specific rules. Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 remains an important but controversial linguistic figure. Generative grammar gave rise to such frameworks such as Transformational grammar
Transformational grammar
In linguistics, a transformational grammar or transformational-generative grammar is a generative grammar, especially of a natural language, that has been developed in the Chomskyan tradition of phrase structure grammars...

, Generative Semantics
Generative semantics
Generative semantics is the name of a research program within linguistics, initiated by the work of various early students of Noam Chomsky: John R. Ross, Paul Postal and later James McCawley...

, Relational Grammar
Relational grammar
In linguistics, Relational Grammar is a syntactic theory which argues that primitive grammatical relations provide the ideal means to state syntactic rules in universal terms. Relational grammar began as an alternative to transformational grammar....

, Generalized phrase structure grammar, Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar
Head-driven phrase structure grammar
Head-driven phrase structure grammar is a highly lexicalized, non-derivational generative grammar theory developed by Carl Pollard and Ivan Sag. It is the immediate successor to generalized phrase structure grammar. HPSG draws from other fields such as computer science and uses Ferdinand de...

 (HPSG), and Lexical Functional Grammar
Lexical functional grammar
Lexical functional grammar is a grammar framework in theoretical linguistics, a variety of generative grammar. It is a type of phrase structure grammar, as opposed to a dependency grammar. The development of the theory was initiated by Joan Bresnan and Ronald Kaplan in the 1970s, in reaction to...

 (LFG). Other linguists working in Optimality Theory
Optimality theory
Optimality theory is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints. OT models grammars as systems that provide mappings from inputs to outputs; typically, the inputs are conceived of as underlying representations, and...

 state generalizations in terms of violable constraints that interact with each other, and abandon the traditional rule-based formalism first pioneered by early work in generativist linguistics.

Functionalist linguists working in functional grammar
Systemic functional grammar
Systemic functional grammar , a component of systemic functional linguistics , is a form of grammatical description originally developed by Michael Halliday in a career spanning more than 50 years. It is part of a social semiotic approach to language called systemic-functional linguistics...

, and Cognitive Linguistics
Cognitive linguistics
In linguistics, cognitive linguistics refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms...

 tend to stress the non-autonomy of linguistic knowledge and the non-universality of linguistic structures, thus differing significantly from the formal approaches.

Schools of study


There is a wide variety of approaches to linguistic study. These can be loosely divided (although not without controversy) into formalist and functionalist approaches. Formalist approaches stress the importance of linguistic forms, and seek explanations for the structure of language from within the linguistic system itself. For example, the fact that language shows recursion
Recursion
Recursion is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. For instance, when the surfaces of two mirrors are exactly parallel with each other the nested images that occur are a form of infinite recursion. The term has a variety of meanings specific to a variety of disciplines ranging from...

 might be attributed to recursive rules. Functionalist linguists, by contrast, view the structure of language as being driven by its function. For example, the fact that languages often put topical information first in the sentence, may be due to a communicative need to pair old information with new information in discourse.

Generative grammar



During the last half of the 20th century, following the work of Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, linguistics was dominated by the generativist school
Generative grammar
In theoretical linguistics, generative grammar refers to a particular approach to the study of syntax. A generative grammar of a language attempts to give a set of rules that will correctly predict which combinations of words will form grammatical sentences...

. While formulated by Chomsky in part as a way to explain how human beings acquire language
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

 and the biological constraints on this acquisition, in practice it has largely been concerned with giving formal accounts of specific phenomena in natural languages. Generative theory is modularist
Language module
Language module refers to a hypothesized structure in the human brain or cognitive system that some psycholinguists claim contains innate capacities for language...

 and formalist in character. Formal linguistics remains the dominant paradigm for studying linguistics, though Chomsky's writings have also gathered criticism.

Cognitive linguistics



In the 1970s and 1980s, a new school of thought known as cognitive linguistics emerged as a reaction to generativist theory. Led by theorists such as Ronald Langacker
Ronald Langacker
Ronald Wayne Langacker is an American linguist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. He is best known as one of the founders of the cognitive linguistics movement and the creator of Cognitive Grammar....

 and George Lakoff
George Lakoff
George P. Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972...

, linguists working within the realm of cognitive linguistics propose that language is an emergent
Emergentism
In philosophy, emergentism is the belief in emergence, particularly as it involves consciousness and the philosophy of mind, and as it contrasts with reductionism. A property of a system is said to be emergent if it is in some sense more than the "sum" of the properties of the system's parts...

 property of basic, general-purpose cognitive processes, though cognitive linguistics has also been the subject of much criticism. In contrast to the generativist school of linguistics, cognitive linguistics is non-modularist and functionalist in character. Important developments in cognitive linguistics include cognitive grammar
Cognitive grammar
Cognitive grammar is a cognitive approach to language developed by Ronald Langacker, which considers the basic units of language to be symbols or conventional pairings of a semantic structure with a phonological label. Grammar consists of constraints on how these units can be combined to generate...

, frame semantics
Frame semantics (linguistics)
Frame semantics is a theory of linguistic meaning that extends Charles J. Fillmore's case grammar. It relates linguistic semantics to encyclopaedic knowledge....

, and conceptual metaphor
Conceptual metaphor
In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another, for example, understanding quantity in terms of directionality . A conceptual domain can be any coherent organization of human experience...

, all of which are based on the idea that form-function correspondences based on representations derived from embodied experience
Embodied cognition
Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind believe that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. They argue that all aspects of cognition, such as ideas,...

 constitute the basic units of language.

See also




Branches and fields


Anthropological linguistics
Anthropological linguistics
Anthropological linguistics is the study of the relations between language and culture and the relations between human biology, cognition and language...

, Articulatory phonology
Articulatory phonology
Articulatory phonology is a linguistic theory originally proposed in 1986 by Catherine Browman of Haskins Laboratories and Louis M. Goldstein of Yale University and Haskins...

, Asemic writing
Asemic writing
Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content". With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. All of this is similar to the way one would...

, Biolinguistics
Biolinguistics
Biolinguistics is the study of the biology and evolution of language. It is a highly interdisciplinary field, including linguists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians, and others...

, Biosemiotics
Biosemiotics
Biosemiotics is a growing field that studies the production, action and interpretation of signs in the biological realm...

, Articulatory synthesis
Articulatory synthesis
Articulatory synthesis refers to computational techniques for synthesizing speech based on models of the human vocal tract and the articulation processes occurring there. The shape of the vocal tract can be controlled in a number of ways which usually involves modifying the position of the speech...

, Cognitive linguistics
Cognitive linguistics
In linguistics, cognitive linguistics refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms...

, Cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

, Computational linguistics
Computational linguistics
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective....

, Concept Mining
Concept Mining
Concept mining is an activity that results in the extraction of concepts from artifacts. Solutions to the task typically involve aspects of artificial intelligence and statistics, such as data mining and text mining...

, Corpus linguistics
Corpus linguistics
Corpus linguistics is the study of language as expressed in samples or "real world" text. This method represents a digestive approach to deriving a set of abstract rules by which a natural language is governed or else relates to another language. Originally done by hand, corpora are now largely...

, Critical discourse analysis
Critical discourse analysis
Critical discourse analysis is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse that views language as a form of social practice and focuses on the ways social and political domination are visible in text and talk....

, Cryptanalysis
Cryptanalysis
Cryptanalysis is the study of methods for obtaining the meaning of encrypted information, without access to the secret information that is normally required to do so. Typically, this involves knowing how the system works and finding a secret key...

, Decipherment
Decipherment
Decipherment is the analysis of documents written in ancient languages, where the language is unknown, or knowledge of the language has been lost....

, Descriptive linguistics
Descriptive linguistics
In the study of language, description, or descriptive linguistics, is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is spoken by a group of people in a speech community...

, Developmental linguistics
Developmental linguistics
Developmental linguistics is the study of the development of linguistic ability in an individual, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood...

, Discourse Analysis
Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis , or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken, signed language use or any significant semiotic event....

, Discourse
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

, Ecolinguistics
Ecolinguistics
Ecolinguistics emerged in the 1990’s as a new paradigm of linguistic research which took into account not only the social context in which language is embedded, but also the ecological context in which societies are embedded...

, Embodied cognition
Embodied cognition
Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind believe that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. They argue that all aspects of cognition, such as ideas,...

, Endangered languages, Evolutionary linguistics
Evolutionary linguistics
Evolutionary linguistics is the scientific study of the origins and development of language. The main challenge in this research is the lack of empirical data: spoken language leaves practically no traces. This led to an abandonment of the field for more than a century...

, Forensic linguistics
Forensic linguistics
Forensic linguistics is the application of linguistic knowledge, methods and insights to the forensic context of law, language, crime investigation, trial, and judicial procedure. It is a branch of applied linguistics...

, Global language system
Global language system
According to Dutch sociologist Abram de Swaan, a sociological classification of languages based on large scale social role for their speakers:* Hypercentral languages: connect supercentral languages; de Swaan erects English to be the sole hypercentral language;* Supercentral languages: very widely...

, Glottometrics, Grammar Writing, Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

, History of linguistics
History of linguistics
Linguistics as a study endeavors to describe and explain the human faculty of language.In ancient civilization, linguistic study was originally motivated by the correct description of classical liturgical language, notably that of Sanskrit grammar by , or by the development of logic and rhetoric...

, Integrational linguistics
Integrational linguistics
Integrational linguistics or integrationism is an approach in the theory of communication that emphasizes the importance of context and rejects rule-based models of language...

, Intercultural competence
Intercultural competence
Intercultural competence is the ability of successful communication with people of other cultures.A person who is interculturally competent captures and understands, in interaction with people from foreign cultures, their specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling and acting...

, International Linguistic Olympiad, Language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

, Language attrition
Language attrition
Language attrition is the loss of a first or second language or a portion of that language by individuals. Speakers who routinely use more than one language may not use either of their languages in ways which are exactly like that of a monolingual speaker...

, Language engineering, Language geography
Language geography
Language geography is the branch of human geography that studies the geographic distribution of language or its constituent elements. There are two principal fields of study within the geography of language: the "geography of languages", which deals with the distribution through history and space...

, Lexicography
Lexicography
Lexicography is divided into two related disciplines:*Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries....

/Lexicology
Lexicology
Lexicology is the part of linguistics which studies words, their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words , word groups and the whole lexicon....

, Linguistic typology
Linguistic typology
Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the world's languages...

, Machine translation
Machine translation
Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of computer software to translate text or speech from one natural language to another.On a basic...

, Metacommunicative competence
Metacommunicative competence
Metacommunicative competence is the ability to intervene within difficult conversations and to correct communication problems by utilizing the different ways of practical communication:...

, Microlinguistics
Microlinguistics
Microlinguistics is a branch of linguistics that concerns itself with the study of language systems in the abstract, without regard to the meaning or notional content of linguistic expressions. In micro-linguistics, language is reduced to the abstract mental elements of syntax and phonology...

, Natural language processing
Natural language processing
Natural language processing is a field of computer science and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages; it began as a branch of artificial intelligence....

, Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing
Natural language processing is a field of computer science and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages; it began as a branch of artificial intelligence....

, Neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language. As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methodology and theory from fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive science,...

, Orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

, Philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

, Reading, Second language acquisition
Second language acquisition
Second-language acquisition or second-language learning is the process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition is also the name of the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process...

, Semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, Sociocultural linguistics
Sociocultural linguistics
Sociocultural linguistics is a term used to encompass a broad range of theories and methods for the study of language in its sociocultural context. Its growing use is a response to the increasingly narrow association of the term sociolinguistics with specific types of research involving the...

, Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society...

, Speaker recognition
Speaker recognition
Speaker recognition is the computing task of validating a user's claimed identity using characteristics extracted from their voices .There is a difference between speaker recognition and speech recognition . These two terms are frequently confused, as is voice recognition...

 (authentication), Speech processing
Speech processing
Speech processing is the study of speech signals and the processing methods of these signals.The signals are usually processed in a digital representation, so speech processing can be regarded as a special case of digital signal processing, applied to speech signal.It is also closely tied to...

, Speech recognition
Speech recognition
Speech recognition converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker—as is the case for most desktop recognition software...

, Speech synthesis
Speech synthesis
Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech. A computer system used for this purpose is called a speech synthesizer, and can be implemented in software or hardware...

, Stratificational linguistics
Stratificational linguistics
Stratificational Linguistics is a view of linguistics advocated by Sydney Lamb. His theories advocate that language usage and production is stratificational in nature.Specifically, that there are separate 'strata' or levels in the brain used for language...

, Structuralism
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

, Text linguistics
Text linguistics
Text linguistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with texts as communication systems. Its original aims lay in uncovering and describing text grammars. The application of text linguistics has, however, evolved from this approach to a point in which text is viewed in much broader terms that go...

, Varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

, Writing system
Writing system
A writing system is a symbolic system used to represent elements or statements expressible in language.-General properties:Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that the reader must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to...

s, Xenolinguistics.

External links


  • The Linguist List, a global online linguistics community with news and information updated daily
  • Glossary of linguistic terms
  • Language Log, a linguistics blog maintained by prominent linguists
  • Glottopedia, MediaWiki-based encyclopedia of linguistics, under construction
  • Linguistic sub-fields – according to the Linguistic Society of America
  • Linguistics and language-related wiki
    Wiki
    A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include...

    articles on Scholarpedia and Citizendium
  • "Linguistics" section – A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism and Philology, ed. J. A. García Landa (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
  • An Academic Linguistics Forum