Scientific study of language / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It entails the comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language — cognitive, social, environmental, biological as well as structural.
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Linguistics is considered to be an applied science as well as an academic field of general study within the humanities and social sciences. Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to syntax (rules governing the structure of sentences), semantics (meaning), morphology (structure of words), phonetics (speech sounds and equivalent gestures in sign languages), phonology (the abstract sound system of a particular language), and pragmatics (how social context contributes to meaning). Subdisciplines such as biolinguistics (the study of the biological variables and evolution of language) and psycholinguistics (the study of psychological factors in human language) bridge many of these divisions.
Linguistics encompasses many branches and subfields that span both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with understanding the universal and fundamental nature of language and developing a general theoretical framework for describing it. Applied linguistics seeks to utilise the scientific findings of the study of language for practical purposes, such as developing methods of improving language education and literacy.
Linguistic phenomena may be studied through a variety of perspectives: synchronically (by describing the shifts in a language at a certain specific point of time) or diachronically (ie, through the historical development of language over several periods of time), in monolinguals or in multilinguals, amongst children or amongst adults, in terms of how it is being learned or as in terms of how it was acquired, as abstract objects or as cognitive structures, through written texts or through oral elicitation, and finally through mechanical data collection or through practical fieldwork.
Linguistics emerged from the field of philology and the both are now variably described as related fields, subdisciplines, or the latter to have been superseded by linguistics altogether. Linguistics is also related to the philosophy of language, stylistics, rhetoric, semiotics, lexicography, and translation.