The Yummy World of Linguistics

The field of linguistics is a rapidly expanding and intensely fascinating area of study. But just how much would you say you know about it?

Although linguistics has made numerous significant impacts on other fields, (such as anthropology, cognitive psychology, computer science, philosophy, sociology, and quite a bit more), the average person on the street might be clueless as to what exactly linguistics is, if you were to mention it. If we didn’t know any better, we could be tempted to say that those who are linguists are grammar experts or, possibly, someone who is a fluent speaker of languages.

In actuality, linguistics is simply the study of human language. It centers around the processes of human thought, and also around the structures that form the foundation of language. Because of linguistics, we are able to study how we communicate with one another, and the factors that go into play in the usage of language. Linguistics is broken down into several subsections, such as:

  • Morphology, which is the study of the formation of words. When studying morphology, the main goal is to understand the way in which the words of a language are constructed, and to find out if those words consist of smaller parts that still hold meaning.
  • Pragmatics, or the study of language usage in its context. MacMillan English Dictionary provides a more thorough explanation, defining pragmatics as just, “how people use language… describing the connection between language and human life.”
  • Phonetics, which is the study of sounds produced in human speech, and Phonology, which focuses on the study of patterns of sounds in languages. Both of these center around how sounds are produced (by humans), and are perceived (by humans).
  • Semantics, the study of meaning, or how we, as humans, use words and grammar to construct meaning.
  • And Syntax, which refers to the study of the formation of phrases and sentences.

Although the field of linguistics is often overlooked, it is because of linguistics that we are better able to understand how we understand one another, communicate with one another, and, ultimately, connect with one another. Now, go and tell your friends about its wonders. 

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One thought on “The Yummy World of Linguistics

  1. Well said. The movie “Arrival” now up for an award exemplifies perfectly the relevance of linguistics and the language arts in general, and the value they bring to any given field. That’s why the W&L major at Georgia Southern prepares students so well for the future.

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