The scientific study of language is called linguistics and it encompasses various sub-fields of study. In the past, the study of language was referred to as philology. Unlike modern linguistics, philology was more focused on the historical aspects of language.
Nowadays, philology is generally referred to as the study of grammar, literary traditions and history of a certain language. In the field of academics, the accepted English term for the scientific study of language is now linguistics.
From the 20th century onwards, linguistics has been conquered by the Generativist school. This mainly explains how people acquire language and how they conquer the biological obstacles on this quest for language acquisition. The Generative theory is the most dominant and highly popular theory as compared to other linguistic theories.
The sub-fields in linguistics include evolutionary linguistics; historical linguistics; and sociolinguistics. Evolutionary linguistics tries to explain the origin of language; historical linguistics focuses on the many changes in language; and sociolinguistics explains the link between social structures and variations in linguistics.
There are many modern fields of disciplines that are quite relevant when it comes to the study of language. Linguistics draws many concepts from many of these fields of discipline such as acoustics; psychology; computer science; informatics; human anatomy; biology; sociology; anthropology; and neuroscience.
Linguistic structures are pairs of form and meaning also known as Saussurean signs (the term being derived from Ferdinand de Saussure’s name; he being the forerunner of linguistics as non-historic in nature). These pairings could include hand movements, patterns of sound and written symbols. The sub-areas for linguistic structures are the following terms (ranging from form to meaning):
* Phonetics is defined as the study of speech’s physical properties. It is also understood as the signed productions of perception.
* Phonology focuses on studying sound. This can be adjusted to those who would want to learn the signed language). These are also the abstract aspects in the speaker’s mind which point to meaning.
* Morphology is the study of words’ internal structures and how these can be changed.
* The study of word combination and grammatical sentence formations is called Syntax.
* The study of word meanings, fixed combinations of words and the combination of both are referred to as Semantics.
* Learning the uses of utterances in communication is referred to as Pragmatics. This encompasses the literal and figurative meanings of these words.
* Discourse Analysis is the examination of text usage in language. This includes spoken, signed and written formats.
General Language Structures
Whether the language is English, German, French, or any modern language, their structures have similarities. It has been understood that most languages tend to evolve around categories in grammar such as verbs, nouns, past and present tenses, etc.
Prior to recursive structures in grammar, linguistic systems were either phonological or morphological. This means that language has a property that can organize elements to recursive structures.
Recognized sub-fields of linguistics include diachronic linguistics (the study of language at a particular time frame more often than not the present); contextual linguistics (this focuses on the integration of linguistics with other academic fields such as sociolinguistics or neurolinguistics); and applied linguistics (aims to point at the similarities and differences between languages).
Linguistics plays a major part in the evolution and understanding of different cultures and traditions around the world. Without the study of languages, perhaps man would be nothing but a mere caveman until now.
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