Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics encompasses a number of sub-fields. An important topical division is between the study of language structure (grammar) and the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Grammar encompasses morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the rules that determine how words combine into phrases and sentences) and phonology (the study of sound systems and abstract sound units). Phonetics is a related branch of linguistics concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones), non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived.
Other sub-disciplines of linguistics include the following: evolutionary linguistics, which considers the origins of language; historical linguistics, which explores language change; sociolinguistics, which looks at the relation between linguistic variation and social structures; psycholinguistics, which explores the representation and functioning of language in the mind; neurolinguistics, which looks at the representation of language in the brain; language acquisition, which considers how children acquire their first language and how children and adults acquire and learn their second and subsequent languages; and discourse analysis, which is concerned with the structure of texts and conversations, and pragmatics with how meaning is transmitted based on a combination of linguistic competence, non-linguistic knowledge, and the context of the speech act.
Linguistics is narrowly defined as the scientific approach to the study of language, but language can be approached from a variety of directions, and a number of other intellectual disciplines are relevant to it and influence its study. Semiotics, for example, is a related field concerned with the general study of signs and symbols both in language and outside of it. Literary theorists study the use of language in artistic literature. Linguistics additionally draws on work from such diverse fields as psychology, speech-language pathology, informatics, computer science, philosophy, biology, human anatomy, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, and acoustics.
Within the field, linguist is used to describe someone who either studies the field or uses linguistic methodologies to study groups of languages or particular languages. Outside the field, this term is commonly used to refer to people who speak many languages fluently.
- 1 Names for the discipline
- 2 Fundamental concerns and divisions
- 3 Variation and universality
- 4 Structures
- 5 Selected sub-fields
- 6 Description and prescription
- 7 Speech and writing
- 8 History
- 9 Schools of study
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
philology", first attested in 1716, was commonly used to refer to the science of language, which was then predominantly historical in focus. Since Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis, however, this focus has shifted and the term "philology" is now generally used for the "study of a language's grammar, history and literary tradition", especially in the United States, where it was never as popular as it was elsewhere (in the sense of the "science of language").
Although the term "linguist" in the sense of "a student of language" dates from 1641, the term "linguistics" is first attested in 1847. It is now the usual academic term in English for the scientific study of language.
 Fundamental concerns and divisions
Linguistics concerns itself with describing and explaining the nature of human language. Relevant to this are the questions of what is universal to language, how language can vary, and how human beings come to know languages. All humans (setting aside extremely pathological cases) achieve competence in whatever language is spoken (or signed, in the case of signed languages) around them when growing up, with apparently little need for explicit conscious instruction. While non-humans acquire their own communication systems, they do not acquire human language in this way (although many non-human animals can learn to respond to language, or can even be trained to use it to a degree). Therefore, linguists assume that the ability to acquire and use language is an innate, biologically based potential of modern human beings, similar to the ability to walk. There is no consensus, however, as to the extent of this innate potential, or its domain-specificity (the degree to which such innate abilities are specific to language), with some theorists claiming that there is a very large set of highly abstract and specific binary settings coded into the human brain, while others claim that the ability to learn language is a product of general human cognition. It is, however, generally agreed that there are no strong genetic differences underlying the differences between languages: an individual will acquire whatever language(s) he or she is exposed to as a child, regardless of parentage or ethnic origin.
Linguistic structures are pairings of meaning and form; such pairings are known as Saussurean signs. In this sense, form may consist of sound patterns, movements of the hands, written symbols, and so on. There are many sub-fields concerned with particular aspects of linguistic structure, ranging from those focused primarily on form to those focused primarily on meaning:
- Phonetics, the study of the physical properties of speech (or signed) production and perception
- Phonology, the study of sounds (or signs) as discrete, abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning
- Morphology, the study of internal structures of words and how they can be modified
- Syntax, the study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences
- Semantics, the study of the meaning of words (lexical semantics) and fixed word combinations (phraseology), and how these combine to form the meanings of sentences
- Pragmatics, the study of how utterances are used in communicative acts, and the role played by context and non-linguistic knowledge in the transmission of meaning
- Discourse analysis, the analysis of language use in texts (spoken, written, or signed)
Many linguists would agree that these divisions overlap considerably, and the independent significance of each of these areas is not universally acknowledged. Regardless of any particular linguist's position, each area has core concepts that foster significant scholarly inquiry and research.
Alongside these structurally motivated domains of study are other fields of linguistics, distinguished by the kinds of non-linguistic factors that they consider:
- Applied linguistics, the study of language-related issues applied in everyday life, notably language policies, planning, and education. (Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics.)
- Biolinguistics, the study of natural as well as human-taught communication systems in animals, compared to human language.
- Clinical linguistics, the application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
- Computational linguistics, the study of computational implementations of linguistic structures.
- Developmental linguistics, the study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood.
- Evolutionary linguistics, the study of the origin and subsequent development of language by the human species.
- Historical linguistics or diachronic linguistics, the study of language change over time.
- Language geography, the study of the geographical distribution of languages and linguistic features.
- Linguistic typology, the study of the common properties of diverse unrelated languages, properties that may, given sufficient attestation, be assumed to be innate to human language capacity.
- Neurolinguistics, the study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication.
- Psycholinguistics, the study of the cognitive processes and representations underlying language use.
- Sociolinguistics, the study of variation in language and its relationship with social factors.
- Stylistics, the study of linguistic factors that place a discourse in context.
The related discipline of semiotics investigates the relationship between signs and what they signify. From the perspective of semiotics, language can be seen as a sign or symbol, with the world as its representation.[citation needed
語言學本身的關注與描述和解釋人類語言的本質。與此相關的是普遍的問題是什麼語言，語言如何可以改變，以及如何來認識人類的語言。所有的人（撇開極病理情況下）實現能力的任何一種語言是口語（或簽名，在案件 手語）左右，當他們成長過程中，與顯然不太需要明確的意識指令。雖然非人類掌握自己的通信系統，他們不掌握人類的語言以這種方式（儘管許多非人類的動物可以學習如何去應對語言，甚至可以用它來訓練在一定程度上）。 因此，語言學家認為能夠獲得和使用語言是天生的，潛在的生物基礎的現代人類，類似行走的能力。有沒有共識，然而，對於這種先天的程度的潛力，或者其領域的特殊性（在何種程度上這種天生的能力是特定於語言），與一些理論家宣稱，有一個非常大的一套高度抽象，設置特定的二進制編碼到人腦，而有些人則認為學習語言的能力是一個產品一般人的認知。它是，但是，普遍認為有沒有強烈 遺傳 不同語言之間的差異背後：個人將收購的任何語言（s），他或她接觸到作為一個孩子，無論父母或人種。
語言結構是配對的意義和形式，這樣的配對被稱為 索緒爾 跡象。從這個意義上講，形式可包括聲音模式，運動手，書寫符號，等等。有許多子領域關注的特定方面的語言結構，從那些主要側重於形式，主要側重於那些含義：
- 語法，研究如何結合起來，形成合乎語法的話 句子
- 語義，這項研究的意義的話（詞彙語義）和固定詞的組合（用語），以及如何將這些結合起來，形成 含義 判刑
- 語用學，研究如何 話語 用於 交際行為，所扮演的角色和背景和非語言知識的傳播意義
- 話語分析，分析語言的使用 文本 （口頭，書面或簽名）
- 應用語言學，研究語言相關的問題在日常生活中的應用，特別是語言政策，規劃和教育。 （人造語言 適合應用語言學下。）
- 臨床語言學，應用語言學理論的領域 語音語言病理學。
- 語言學的發展該研究的語言能力的發展在人，特別是 收購的語言 在童年。
- 歷史語言學 或歷時語言學，研究語言隨著時間而改變。
相關學科 符號學 調查之間的關係和它們的象徵符號。從符號學的角度看，語言可以被看作是一個標記或符號，與世界作為其代表。