What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the study of the properties common to all the world's
languages as well as the unique features of individual languages.
Linguists study the principles underlying the sounds (phonetics/phonology),
words (morphology), sentences (syntax), meaning (semantics), social functions
and use (pragmatics) of human languages. In addition, linguists are
interested in areas such as language change, dialect variation, bilingualism,
language acquisition, psycholinguistics, literacy and teaching English to
speakers of other languages.
The linguistics student learns how to solve practical language problems and
investigates specific questions such as:
- Are some languages better than others?
- In what ways are all languages the same? How do languages differ?
- How are second and foreign languages learned? What makes a foreign accent
- Do bilinguals change personalities when they switch languages?
- How is a word born? How does it die? Can two words mean exactly the same
- What is slang, and why do people use it?
- Do children have to be taught to talk? Should parents correct their
children when they make mistakes in speaking?
- Does American Sign Language have morphology and syntax like other natural
- How do governments foster (or discourage) the use of specific languages
- Do men and women speak differently?
- What is a standard language? What is a dialect? Is Ebonics a
dialect, a language, or something else?
- Is it easier to learn some languages than others?
- How can computers be programmed to understand and produce language? Can
computers learn human languages? Can apes?
- How is language represented in the brain?