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Outline of linguistics


Outline of linguistics

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to linguistics:

Linguistics is the scientific study of natural language. Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist. Linguistics can be theoretical or applied.


  • Nature of linguistics 1
  • Branches of linguistics 2
    • Subfields of linguistics 2.1
      • Subfields, by linguistic structures studied 2.1.1
      • Subfields, by nonlinguistic factors studied 2.1.2
    • Other subfields of linguistics 2.2
    • Schools, movements, and approaches of linguistics 2.3
  • Related fields 3
  • History of linguistics 4
    • Timeline of discovery of basic linguistics concepts 4.1
  • Questions in linguistics 5
  • Basic concepts 6
  • Languages of the world 7
    • Languages by country 7.1
  • Linguistics scholars 8
  • Linguistics lists 9
  • See also 10
  • External links 11

Nature of linguistics

Linguistics can be described as all of the following:

  • Academic discipline – body of knowledge given to - or received by - a disciple (student); a branch or sphere of knowledge, or field of study, that an individual has chosen to specialise in.
  • Field of science – widely-recognized category of specialized expertise within science, and typically embodies its own terminology and nomenclature. Such a field will usually be represented by one or more scientific journals, where peer reviewed research is published. There are many sociology-related scientific journals.
    • Social science – field of academic scholarship that explores aspects of human society related to the language it speaks.

Branches of linguistics

Subfields of linguistics

Subfields, by linguistic structures studied

Sub-fields of structure-focused linguistics include:

  • Phonetics – study of the physical properties of speech (or signed) production and perception
  • Phonology – study of sounds (or signs) as discrete, abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning
  • Morphology – study of internal structures of words and how they can be modified
  • Syntax – study of how words combine to form grammatical sentences
  • Semantics – study of the meaning of words (lexical semantics) and fixed word combinations (phraseology), and how these combine to form the meanings of sentences
  • Pragmatics – study of how utterances are used in communicative acts – and the role played by context and nonlinguistic knowledge in the transmission of meaning
  • Discourse analysis – analysis of language use in texts (spoken, written, or signed)

Subfields, by nonlinguistic factors studied

  • Applied linguistics – study of language-related issues applied in everyday life, notably language policies, planning, and education. (Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics.)
  • Biolinguistics – study of natural as well as human-taught communication systems in animals, compared to human language.
  • Clinical linguistics – application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
  • Computational linguistics – study of linguistic issues in a way that is 'computationally responsible', i.e., taking careful note of computational consideration of algorithmic specification and computational complexity, so that the linguistic theories devised can be shown to exhibit certain desirable computational properties implementations.
  • Developmental linguistics – study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood.
  • Evolutionary linguistics – study of the origin and subsequent development of language by the human species.
  • Historical linguistics – study of language change over time. Also called diachronic linguistics.
  • Language geography – study of the geographical distribution of languages and linguistic features.
  • Linguistic typology – 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 – study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication.
  • Psycholinguistics – study of the cognitive processes and representations underlying language use.
  • Sociolinguistics – study of variation in language and its relationship with social factors.
  • Stylistics – study of linguistic factors that place a discourse in context.

Other subfields of linguistics

Schools, movements, and approaches of linguistics

Related fields

  • Semiotics – investigates the relationship between signs and what they signify more broadly. From the perspective of semiotics, language can be seen as a sign or symbol, with the world as its representation.

History of linguistics

Main article: History of linguistics

Timeline of discovery of basic linguistics concepts

When were the basic concepts first described and by whom?

  • Ancient Sanskrit grammarians
  • Ancient Greek study of language
  • Roman elaborations of Greek study
  • Medieval philosophical work in Latin
  • Beginnings of modern linguistics in the 19th century
  • Behaviorism and mental tabula rasa hypothesis
  • Chomsky and functionalism
  • Generative grammar leads to generative phonology and semantics
  • Alternate syntactic systems develop in 80s
  • Computational linguistics becomes feasible the late 80s
  • Neurolinguistics and the biological basis of cognition

Questions in linguistics

  1. What is language?
  2. How did it/does it evolve?
  3. How does language serve as a medium of communication?
  4. How does language serve as a medium of thinking?
  5. What is common to all languages?
  6. How do languages differ?

Basic concepts

What basic concepts / terms do I have to know to talk about linguistics?

Languages of the world

Languages by country

Linguistics scholars

People who had a significant influence on the development of the field

Linguistics lists

Arabic Aramaic Armenian Braille Coptic Cyrillic
Georgian Gothic Korean Hebrew IPA English IPA
Kannada Hiragana Katakana Morse code ICAO spelling Phoenician
Runic SAMPA Chart English SAMPA Shavian Thai

See also

External links

  • Glottopedia, MediaWiki-based encyclopedia of linguistics, under construction
  • Subfields according to the Linguistic Society of America
  • Glossary of linguistic terms and French<->English glossary at SIL International
  • "Linguistics" section of A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism and Philology, ed. J. A. García Landa (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
  • Linguistics and language-related wiki articles on Scholarpedia and Citizendium

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