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Linguistics is the scientific study of language, and involves an analysis of language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 4th century BCE Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.
Linguists traditionally analyse human language by observing an interplay between sound and meaning.Phonetics is the study of speech and non-speech sounds, and delves into their acoustic and articulatory properties. The study of language meaning, on the other hand, deals with how languages encode relations between entities, properties, and other aspects of the world to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as manage and resolve ambiguity. While the study of semantics typically concerns itself with truth conditions, pragmatics deals with how situational context influences the production of meaning.
Grammar is a system of rules which governs the production and use of utterances in a given language. These rules apply to sound as well as meaning, and include componential sub-sets of rules, such as those pertaining to phonology (the organisation of phonetic sound systems), morphology (the formation and composition of words), and syntax (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences). Modern theories that deal with the principles of grammar are largely based within Noam Chomsky's ideological school of generative grammar.
Phonetics, the study of the physical properties of speech sound production and perception
Phonology, the study of sounds as abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning (phonemes)
Morphology, the study of morphemes, or the internal structures of words and how they can be modified
Syntax, the study of how words combine to form grammatical phrases and 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)
Stylistics, the study of linguistic factors (rhetoric, diction, stress) that place a discourse in context
Semiotics, the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication.
- Speech appears to be universal to all human beings capable of producing and perceiving it, while there have been many cultures and speech communities that lack written communication;
- Features appear in speech which aren't always recorded in writing, including phonological rules, sound changes, and speech errors;
- All natural writing systems reflect a spoken language (or potentially a signed one) they are being used to write, with even pictographic scripts like Dongba writing Naxi homophones with the same pictogram, and text in writing systems used for two languages changing to fit the spoken language being recorded;
- Speech evolved before human beings invented writing;
- People learnt to speak and process spoken language more easily and earlier than they did with writing.
- A finite set N of nonterminal symbols, none of which appear in strings formed from G.
- A finite set of terminal symbols that is disjoint from N.
- A finite set P of production rules, that map from one string of symbols to another.
- Phonological function: the function of the phoneme is to distinguish between different lexical material.
- Semantic function: (Agent, Patient, Recipient, etc.), describing the role of participants in states of affairs or actions expressed.
- Syntactic functions: (e.g. Subject and Object), defining different perspectives in the presentation of a linguistic expression
- Pragmatic functions: (Theme and Rheme, Topic and Focus, Predicate), defining the informational status of constituents, determined by the pragmatic context of the verbal interaction. Functional descriptions of grammar strive to explain how linguistic functions are performed in communication through the use of linguistic forms.
Akmajian, Adrian; Demers, Richard; Farmer, Ann; Harnish, Robert (2010). Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN .
Isac, Daniela; Charles Reiss (2013). I-language: An Introduction to Linguistics as Cognitive Science, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN .
Pinker, Steven (1994). The Language Instinct. William Morrow and Company. ISBN .
Chomsky, Noam (1998). On Language. The New Press, New York. ISBN .
Derrida, Jacques (1967). Of Grammatology. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN .
Crystal, David (1990). Linguistics. Penguin Books. ISBN .
Hall, Christopher (2005). An Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Breaking the Language Spell. Routledge. ISBN .
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