Biology:Outline of linguistics

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Short description: Overview of and topical guide to linguistics

The following outline is provided as an overview and topical guide to linguistics:

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist. Linguistics can be theoretical or applied.

Branches of linguistics

Subfields of linguistics

  • General linguistics
    • Syntax - the property of grammar that governs sentence structure
    • Semantics - the study of meaning as encoded in grammar
    • Lexis - the complete set of words in a language
    • Morphology - the property of sound and meaning dynamics in language
    • Pragmatics - the study of how context contributes to meaning
  • Theoretical linguistics - the study of language as an abstract object
    • Generative linguistics - an approach which seeks to ground grammar in a specialized language module
    • Formalism (linguistics) - the theory of language as a formal system with mathematical-logical rules and a formal grammar
    • Functional linguistics - language as used and coming from use
    • Quantitative linguistics - the study of quantitative language laws and corresponding general theories
    • Formal semantics - the study of semantics through formal logic-based models
  • Descriptive linguistics - describing how a particular language is used
    • Anthropological linguistics - the place of language in its wider social and cultural context, and its role in making and maintaining cultural practices and societal structures
    • Historical linguistics - study of historical language change over time
      • Comparative linguistics - comparing languages to find similarities and historical connections
    • Phonology - the usage of vocalized sounds and systems of sounds to form language
      • Graphemics - the study of language writing systems
    • Phonetics - the study of the speech faculty
      • Graphetics - the study of writing shapes as assigned to sounds or ideas
    • Etymology - the study of word histories and origins
    • Sociolinguistics - the study of society's effects on language
  • Applied linguistics - finding solutions to real-life problems related to language
    • Computational linguistics - the use of computation applied to language databasing, analysis, translation, and synthesis
    • Forensic linguistics - language science applied to the processes of law and justice
    • Internet linguistics - the study of language usage on the Internet
    • Language assessment - assessing first or second language faculty in individuals
    • Language documentation - comprehensive description of the grammar and use practices of languages of a particular group
    • Language revitalization - is an attempt to halt or reverse the decline of a language or to revive an extinct one
    • Language education - teaching specific language and language science
    • Linguistic anthropology - study of how language influences social life
  • Psycholinguistics - is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language

Subfields, by linguistic structures studied

Sub-fields of structure-focused linguistics include:

  • Phonetics – study of the physical properties of speech (or signed) production and perception
  • Phonology – study of sounds (or signs) as discrete, abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning
  • Morphology – study of internal structures of words and how they can be modified
  • Syntax – study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences
  • Semantics – study of the meaning of words (lexical semantics) and fixed word combinations (phraseology), and how these compose to form the meanings of sentences
  • Pragmatics – study of how utterances are used in communicative acts – and the role played by context and nonlinguistic knowledge in the transmission of meaning
  • Discourse analysis – analysis of language use in texts (spoken, written, or signed)
  • Linguistic typology – comparative study of the similarities and differences between language structures in the world's languages.

Subfields, by nonlinguistic factors studied

  • Applied linguistics – study of language-related issues applied in everyday life, notably language policies, planning, and education. (Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics.)
  • Biolinguistics – the study of the biological and evolutionary components of human language.
  • Clinical linguistics – application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
  • Computational linguistics – study of linguistic issues in a way that is 'computationally responsible', i.e., taking careful note of computational consideration of algorithmic specification and computational complexity, so that the linguistic theories devised can be shown to exhibit certain desirable computational properties implementations.
  • Developmental linguistics – study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood.
  • Historical linguistics – study of language change over time. Also called diachronic linguistics.
  • Language geography – study of the geographical distribution of languages and linguistic features.
  • Neurolinguistics – study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication.
  • Psycholinguistics – study of the cognitive processes and representations underlying language use.
  • Sociolinguistics – study of variation in language and its relationship with social factors.
  • Stylistics – study of linguistic factors that place a discourse in context.

Other subfields of linguistics

Schools, movements, and approaches of linguistics

Related fields

  • Semiotics – 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.
  • Terminology - is the study of terms and their use.
    • Terminology science - study of special vocabulary
  • Philosophy of language - takes a philosophical approach to language. Many formal semanticists are philosophers of language, differing from linguist semanticists only in their metaphysical assumptions (if at all).

History of linguistics

Timeline of discovery of basic linguistics concepts

When were the basic concepts first described and by whom?

  • Ancient Greek study of language
  • Roman elaborations of Greek study
  • Medieval philosophical work in Latin
  • Beginnings of modern linguistics in the 19th century
  • Behaviorism and mental tabula rasa hypothesis
  • Chomsky and the cognitive revolution
  • The Linguistics Wars
  • Compositional formal semantics arises from the work of Richard Montague and Barbara Partee
  • Alternate syntactic systems develop in 80s
  • Computational linguistics becomes feasible the late 80s
  • Neurolinguistics and the biological basis of cognition
  • Deep learning in the 2010s

Questions in linguistics

  1. What is language?
  2. How did it/does it evolve?
  3. How does language serve as a medium of communication?
  4. How does language serve as a medium of thinking?
  5. What is common to all languages?
  6. How do languages differ?

Basic concepts

What basic concepts / terms do I have to know to talk about linguistics?

Languages of the world

Languages by continent and country

Linguistics scholars

People who had a significant influence on the development of the field

Linguistics lists

Arabic Aramaic Armenian Braille Coptic Cyrillic
Georgian Gothic Korean Hebrew IPA English IPA
Kannada Hiragana Katakana Morse code ICAO spelling Phoenician
Runic SAMPA chart English SAMPA Shavian Thai
  • Ideograms - Chinese and Japanese
  • Syllabaries - Korean
  • Mixed: Ancient Egyptian
  • Common misspellings
  • English words without rhymes
  • Acronym
    • Wiktionary:Definitions of acronyms and abbreviations

The placement of linguistics within broader frameworks

Linguistics can be described as an academic discipline and, at least in its theoretical subfields, as a field of science,[1] being a widely recognized category of specialized expertise, embodying its own terminology, nomenclature, and scientific journals. Many linguists, such as David Crystal, conceptualize the field as being primarily scientific.[1]

Linguistics is a multi-disciplinary field of research that combines tools from natural sciences, social sciences, formal sciences, and the humanities.[2][3][4][5]

Historically, there has been some lack of consensus on the disciplinary classification of linguistics, particularly theoretical linguistics. Linguistic realists viewed linguistics as a formal science; linguistic nominalists (the American structuralists) viewed linguistics as an empirical or even physical science; linguistic conceptualists viewed linguistics as a branch of psychology and therefore a social science; others yet have argued for viewing linguistics as a mixed science.[5]

Linguistics is heterogeneous in its methods of research, so that each area of theoretical linguistics may resemble methodologically either formal science or empirical science, to different degrees. For example, phonetics uses empirical approaches to study the physical acoustics of spoken language. On the other hand, semantically and grammatically, the usability of a formal or natural language is dependent on a formal and arbitrary axiomatization of rules or norms. Furthermore, as studied in pragmatics and semiotics, linguistic meaning is influenced by social context.[5]

To enable communication by upholding a lexico-semantic norm, the speakers of a shared language need to agree on the meaning of a sequence of phonemes; for instance, "aunt" (/æ/, /n/, /t/) would be acknowledged to signify "parent's sister or parent's sister-in-law", instead of "drummer" or "guest". Likewise, grammatically, it may be necessary for the interlocutors to agree on the morphological and syntactic properties of the sequence; say, that the sequence (/æ/ , /n/, /t/) would be treated as a singular noun convertible morphologically to plurality by the addition of the suffix -s, or that as a noun it must not be modified syntactically by an adverb (for instance, "Let's call our immediately aunt" would thus be recognized as a grammatically incoherent structure, in a manner similar to a mathematically undefined expression).

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Crystal, David (1990). Linguistics. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-013531-2. 
  2. Spolsky, Bernard; Hult, Francis M. (February 2010) (in en). The Handbook of Educational Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4443-3104-2. 
  3. Berns, Margie (20 March 2010) (in en). Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Elsevier. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-08-096503-1. 
  4. "The Science of Linguistics". "Modern linguists approach their work with a scientific perspective, although they use methods that used to be thought of as solely an academic discipline of the humanities. Contrary to previous belief, linguistics is multidisciplinary. It overlaps each of the human sciences including psychology, neurology, anthropology, and sociology. Linguists conduct formal studies of sound structure, grammar and meaning, but they also investigate the history of language families, and research language acquisition." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Behme, Christina; Neef, Martin. Essays on Linguistic Realism (2018). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 7–20

External links