Names for the discipline
Fundamental concerns and divisions
- Phonetics, the study of the physical properties of speech (or signed) production and perception
- Phonology, the study of sounds (or signs) as discrete, abstract elements in the speaker's mind that distinguish meaning
- Morphology, the study of internal structures of words and how they can be modified
- Syntax, the study of how words combine to form grammatical 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)
- Applied linguistics, the study of language-related issues applied in everyday life, notably language policies, planning, and education. (Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics.)
- Biolinguistics, the study of natural as well as human-taught communication systems in animals, compared to human language.
- Clinical linguistics, the application of linguistic theory to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
- Computational linguistics, the study of computational implementations of linguistic structures.
- Developmental linguistics, the study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood.
- Evolutionary linguistics, the study of the origin and subsequent development of language by the human species.
- Historical linguistics or diachronic linguistics, the study of language change over time.
- Language geography, the study of the geographical distribution of languages and linguistic features.
- Linguistic typology, the 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, the study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication.
- Psycholinguistics, the study of the cognitive processes and representations underlying language use.
- Sociolinguistics, the study of variation in language and its relationship with social factors.
- Stylistics, the study of linguistic factors that place a discourse in context.
Variation and universality
Descriptive linguistics and language documentation
Description and prescription
Speech and writing
- Speech appears to be universal to all human beings capable of producing and hearing it, while there have been many cultures and speech communities that lack written communication;
- Speech evolved before human beings invented writing;
- People learn to speak and process spoken languages more easily and much earlier than writing;