What is meant by the field of linguistics? This introductory chapter concerns some dimensions of linguistics, which give us a general idea of what linguistics is, including the history of linguistic, grammar, and other disciplines of linguistics study. What does grammar consist of and what are the relationship between one and another? How many languages do human beings have the capacity to acquire? What other studies are made in recent centuries? Each of these aspects are clearly described, and other chapters will go into further details. While in this chapter we will provide some less detailed information on the various aspects of linguistics mentioned so far.
1.1 Defining Linguistics
There is nothing that can be said by mathematical symbols and relations which cannot also be said by words. The converse, however, is false. Much that can be and is said by words cannot successfully be put into equations, because it is nonsense.
Linguistics is a study to describe and explain the human faculty of language. There is no doubt that linguistics has changed through human development.
1.1.1 History of linguistics
The history of linguistics can be divided into three periods: antiquity, middle ages and modern linguistics.
Dating back to earlier period of linguistics, linguistics is often associated with a need to disambiguate discourse, especially for ritual texts or in arguments. Ancient Indians made a big contribution to linguistics development. Similarly, ancient Chinese played a key role in improving linguistics development. Around the same time as the Indian developed, ancient Greek philosophers were also debating the nature and origins of language. During this period, syntax and the use of particles developed fast. In addition, scholars proposed that word meanings are derived from sentential usage.
126.96.36.199 Middle Ages
In Middle East, in terms of expanding Islam in 8th century, a large number of people learn Arabic. Because of this, the earliest grammar came to being gradually. At the same time, Sibawayh, a famous scholar, wrote a book to distinguish phonetics from phonology. In the 13th century, Europeans introduced the notion of universal grammar.
188.8.131.52 Modern Linguistics
Modern linguistics' beginning can date back to the late 18th century. With time passing by, the study of linguistics contains increasing contents. Meanwhile, it is used in other fields, computer, e.g., has come to be called computational linguistics. The study of applications (as the recovery of speech ability) is generally known as applied linguistics. But in a narrower sense, applied linguistics refers to the application of linguistic principles and theories of language teaching and learning, especially the teaching of foreign and second language. Other related branches include anthropological linguistics, neurological linguistics, mathematical linguistics, and computational linguistics. However, linguistics is only a part of a much larger academic discipline, semiotics. It is the scientific study of language. It studies not just one single language of any one society, just like Chinese or French, but the language of all human beings. A linguist, though, does not have to know and use a large number of languages, but to investigate how each language is constructed. In short, linguistics studies the general principles whereupon all human languages are constructed and operated as systems of communication in their societies or communities.
1.1.2 An Interesting Comparison
Linguistics is a broad field to study, therefore, a linguist sometimes is only able to deal with one aspect of language at a time, and thus various branches arise: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, applied linguistics, pragmatics, psycholinguistics, lexicology, lexicography, etymology and so on. Suppose that the study of linguistics can be considered to be a computer, so linguistics is...
References: Cruse, A. (2004). Meaning in language : an introduction to semantics and pragmatics. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press.
Bynon, T. (1983). Historical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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