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This script was found on the temple walls of Tanjore Bragadeeshwara. It is very different from the present Tamil script. Credit: Symphoney Symphoney.

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language.[1][2][3][4] Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context.

Although linguistics is the scientific study of language, a number of other intellectual disciplines are relevant to language and intersect with it. Semiotics, for example, is the general study of signs and symbols both within language and without. Literary theorists study the use of language in literature. Linguistics additionally draws on and informs work from such diverse fields as acoustics, anthropology, biology, computer science, human anatomy, informatics, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and speech-language pathology.

Linguistics theory[edit]

Def. "[t]he scientific study of language"[5] is called linguistics.

Linguistics concerns itself with describing and explaining the nature of human language. Fundamental questions include what is universal to language, how language can vary, and how human beings come to know languages. Linguistic fields can then be broadly divided into those that distinguish themselves by a focus on linguistic structure and grammar, and those that distinguish themselves by the nonlinguistic factors they consider.

Contemporary Linguistic Analysis


Def. "word or phrase, especially one from a specialized area of knowledge"[6] is called a term.

Def. "[t]he set of terms actually used in any business, art, science, or the like"[7] is called terminology.

Before the 20th century, the term philology, first attested in 1716,[8] was commonly used to refer to the science of language, which was then predominantly historical in focus.[9] Since Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis, however, this focus has shifted[9] 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,[10] where it was never as popular as it was elsewhere (in the sense of the "science of language").[8]

The term "linguistics" is first attested in 1847.[11] It is now the usual academic term in English for the scientific study of language.


Def. "[t]he humanistic study of historical linguistics"[12] is called philology.

Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.[13]


Def. "[a] form of communication using words either spoken or gestured with the hands and structured with grammar, often with a writing system"[14] is called a language.

Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication.

Def. "[a] variety of a language ... that is characteristic of a particular area, community or group"[15] is called a dialect.

"The difference between a language and a dialect is not always clear, but it is generally considered that people who speak different dialects can understand each other, while people who speak different languages cannot."[15]

Def. "one's native language, the language one feels most comfortable and capable with"[16] is called a first language.

Def. "the language one grew up with, the language spoken by one's ancestors"[17] is called a mother tongue.

Def. "[t]he language of a Native or Aboriginal people, one's ... language, learned in early childhood"[18] is called a native language.


The approximately 3,000–6,000 languages that are spoken by humans today are the most salient examples, but natural languages can also be based on visual rather than auditory stimuli, for example in sign languages and written language. Codes and other kinds of artificially constructed communication systems such as those used for [programming language] computer programming can also be called languages. A language in this sense is a system of signs for encoding and decoding information.

Def. "an amalgamation of two disparate languages, used by two populations having no common language as a lingua franca to communicate with each other, lacking formalized grammar and having a small, utilitarian vocabulary and no native speakers"[19] is called a pidgin.

Def. "[a] dialect formed from two languages which has developed from a pidgin to become a first language"[20] is called a creole.


Def. "[t]he part of linguistics that studies words, their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words including semantic relations, words groups and the whole lexicon"[21] is called lexicology.

Lexicology is the part of linguistics which studies words, their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words (semantical relations), word groups and the whole lexicon.



  1. "[t]he art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries [or]
  2. [t]he scholarly discipline of analyzing and describing the semantic, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relationships within the lexicon (vocabulary) of a language and developing theories of dictionary components and structures linking the data in dictionaries"[22]

is called lexicography.



  1. a system of rules and principles for speaking and writing a language
  2. the study of the internal structure of words (morphology) and the use of words in the construction of phrases and sentences (syntax)
  3. a book describing the rules of grammar of a language
  4. a] formal system in computing theory specifying the syntax of a language
  5. a formal system in computing theory defining a formal language
  6. the basic rules or principles of a field of knowledge or a particular skill

is called a grammar.



1. "the study of meanings:"
1.a: "the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development",
1.b: "a branch of semiotic dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth"
2.a: "the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs; [especially]: connotative meaning"
2.b: "the exploitation of connotation and ambiguity (as in propaganda)"

is called semantics.[23]

Def. "the branch of linguistics devoted to the investigation of linguistic meaning, the interpretation of expression in a language system."[24] is called semantics.


Def. "the formal relations between signs or expressions in abstraction from their signification and their interpreters" is called syntactics.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. . ISBN 0-262-51370-6. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. André Martinet, Tr. Elisabeth Palmer (Studies in General Linguistics, vol. i.) (1960). Elements of General Linguistics. London: Faber. p. 15.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. Michael A. K. Halliday, Jonathan Webster (2006). On Language and Linguistics. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. vii. ISBN 0-8264-8824-2.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Joseph Greenberg (1948). "Linguistics and ethnology". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 4: 140–7. 
  5. linguistics. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. April 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  6. term. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 20, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  7. Terminology. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Online Etymological Dictionary: philology
  9. 9.0 9.1 McMahon, A. M. S. (1994). Understanding Language Change. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-44665-1.
  10. A. Morpurgo Davies Hist. Linguistics (1998) 4 I. 22.
  11. Online Etymological Dictionary: linguist
  12. philology. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 4, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  13. Philology. Books.google.com. 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
  14. language. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  15. 15.0 15.1 dialect. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  16. first language. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. January 13, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  17. mother tongue. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  18. native language. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. November 10, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  19. pidgin. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  20. creole. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  21. lexicology. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  22. lexicography. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Philip B. Gove, ed. (1963). Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company. p. 1221. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  24. Gennaro Chierchia, Sally McConnell-Ginet (2000). Word Meaning, In: Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics. Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. pp. 431–500. ISBN 0-262-03269-4. Retrieved 2011-11-29.

External links[edit]

{{Dominant group}}{{Humanities resources}}

{{Semantics resources}}{{Terminology resources}}{{Universal translator}}