Linguistics

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language.[1][2] It entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language,[3] particularly its nature and structure.[4] As linguistics is concerned with both the cognitive and social aspects of language, it is considered a scientific field as well as an academic discipline;[5] it has been classified as a social science,[6] natural science,[7] cognitive science,[8] or part of the humanities.

Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to phenomena found in human linguistic systems, such as 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).[9] 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.[10]

Linguistics encompasses many branches and subfields that span both theoretical and practical applications.[5] Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with understanding the fundamental nature of language and developing a general theoretical framework for describing it.[11] 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.[12]

Linguistic phenomena may be studied through a variety of perspectives: synchronically (describing a language at a specific point of time) or diachronically (through historical development); in monolinguals or multilinguals; children or adults; as they are learned or already acquired; as abstract objects or cognitive structures; through texts or oral elicitation; and through mechanical data collection versus fieldwork.[13]

Linguistics is related to philosophy of language, stylistics and rhetorics, semiotics, lexicography, and translation; philology, from which linguistics emerged, is variably described as a related field, a subdiscipline, or to have been superseded altogether.[14]


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