Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Linguistics is a science at the crossroads of humanities, social and natural sciences. It is a discipline for those who like to have their hands in many fields at the same time – it satisfies the curiosity of anthropologists, historians, scholars of classical languages, biologists, psychologists and others.
Linguistics ask questions about how languaje works such as: What does language usage indicate about speakers? How is language related to our mind? How did language originate? Why does language change and what triggers the change? How do speakers use language to advance their position in society? Why do languages enter into political conflicts and peace negotiations? And so on. Their focus is on language as inseparable from us, speakers, defining and molding us as we use and change it to suit our needs.

The two main branches of linguistics are:
  • Theoretical (or general) linguistics
  • Applied linguistics
General linguistics encompasses a number of sub-fields, such as the study of language structure (grammar), and meaning (semantics). The study of grammar encompasses morphology (formation and alteration of words) and syntax (the rules that determine the way words combine into phrases and sentences). Phonology (the study of sound systems and abstract sound units) and phonetics (which is concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones) as well as those of non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived) also form part of this field.

Linguistics compares languages (comparative linguistics) and explores their histories, in order to find universal properties of language and to account for its development and origins (historical linguistics).

Applied linguistics puts linguistic theories into practice in areas such as foreign language teaching, speech therapy, translation and speech pathology.

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