What is linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It is a 'foundation' discipline in the sensethat it bridges the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities.Linguistics is an exciting field, not only because of its own achievements, but alsobecause of its contributions to other fields. For example, linguistic anthropology is oneof the four subdisciplines of anthropology, and it has provided models of rigour incultural anthropology. Linguistics also has links with cognitive science, computer science, education (throughreading, child language acquisition, and classroom interaction), geography (throughlinguistic geography and dialectology), history (through historical linguistics),literature (through stylistics, poetics, and critical theory), neurology (throughneurolinguistics, the study of how language functions in the brain), philosophy(through the philosophy of natural language, semantics, and logic), psychology(through psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, and clinical applications), sociology(through sociolinguistics and the sociology of language), speech therapy, and zoology(through animal communication and the evolution of language).
Some of the major areas in which linguists work are :
is the scientific study of speech sounds, of how they are made(articulatory phonetics), transmitted (acoustic phonetics), and received (auditoryphonetics). Phonetics has broad applications in a number of areas, including speechrecognition, speech synthesis, forensic linguistics, speech therapy, and languageinstruction.
analyses how sounds are organised in a language (phonological structure)and attempts to discover the principles that govern sound systems in languages ingeneral.
examines the structure or form of words, how they are constructed of smaller units (called "morphemes") which have meaning (for example,
investigates how words (and grammatical elements) are combined to formsentences, what speakers know about the grammatical structure of their language,how sentences are interrelated and what the general grammatical and cognitiveprinciples are which explain these arrangements, relationships, and knowledge.
is the study of meaning in language.
probes the relationship between language and society. Thisinvolvesvariation in language use which correlates with such things as the age,gender, social class, ethnicity, and general social attributes of speakers and hearers.Sociolinguists also deal with attitudes towards language, social aspects of languagechange, and linguistic aspects of social issues.
is the application of linguistic methods and findings to a numberof areas. It is especially associated with language teaching methodology and second-language acquisition, but also involves language and the law, language and classroomeducation, child development, language and reading, speech therapy, language andpublic policy, translation, advertising, and the like.