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Some basics: What is linguistics and how is it used?

What is linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of language not just particular languages, but the system of human communication. Some of the basic issues of this field are?

What are some of the branches of linguistics?

applied linguistics: application to areas such as speech pathology, reading, social work, missionary work, translation, dictionary compilation, language teaching, error analysis, computer language processing.

dialectology: investigation of regional variation in language.

ethnolinguistics (anthropological linguistics): investigation of the relation between a people's language and culture.

historical (diachronic) linguistics: study of language change and evolution.

morphology: study of word formation and inflection.

neurolinguistics: research into the specific location of language in the brain.

paralinguistics: study of nonverbal (auxiliary) human communication.

philology: study of how language has been used in literature, especially in older manuscripts.

phonetics: description of how speech sounds are articulated and heard.

phonology: study of how languages organize the units of speech into systems.

pragmatics: study of the strategies people use to carry out communicative business in specific contexts.

psycholinguistics: investigation of language as cognitively-based behavior; how it is acquired and processed.

second language acquisition (SLA): study of how older learners acquire language, and of ways to improve it.

sociolinguistics: study of social variation in language: the relation between social structure and language usage, and of social issues involving language.

semantics: study of word and sentence meaning.

syntax: study of the structure of sentences and of underlying principles for generating and processing them.

How is linguistics applied?

Many students find linguistics useful because it broadens and deepens their understanding of related fields: languages and literature (English and foreign), social sciences (especially anthropology, sociology, and psychology), education, philosophy, communication... Those who obtain degrees in linguistics often proceed to careers in:

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Click here for information on how to get phonetic symbols for linguistic work on your computer.

Click here for a listing of links I recommend for more information (Linguistic Society of America, International Phonetic Association, etc.)