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

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

Branches of linguistics

Subfields of linguistics

Subfields, by linguistic structures studied

Sub-fields of structure-focused linguistics include:

Subfields, by nonlinguistic factors studied

Other subfields of linguistics

Schools, movements, and approaches of linguistics

Related fields

History of linguistics

See also: History of linguistics

Timeline of discovery of basic linguistics concepts

When were the basic concepts first described and by whom?

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 continent and country

Linguistics scholars

Main article: List of linguists

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

The placement of linguistics within broader frameworks

See also: Outline of academic disciplines and Linguistics § Nomenclature

Linguistics can be described as an academic discipline and, at least in its theoretical subfields, as a field of science,[1] being a widely recognized category of specialized expertise, embodying its own terminology, nomenclature, and scientific journals. Many linguists, such as David Crystal, conceptualize the field as being primarily scientific.[1]

Linguistics is a multi-disciplinary field of research that combines tools from natural sciences, social sciences, formal sciences, and the humanities.[2][3][4][5]

Historically, there has been some lack of consensus on the disciplinary classification of linguistics, particularly theoretical linguistics. Linguistic realists viewed linguistics as a formal science; linguistic nominalists (the American structuralists) viewed linguistics as an empirical or even physical science; linguistic conceptualists viewed linguistics as a branch of psychology and therefore a social science; others yet have argued for viewing linguistics as a mixed science.[5]

Linguistics is heterogeneous in its methods of research, so that each area of theoretical linguistics may resemble methodologically either formal science or empirical science, to different degrees. For example, phonetics uses empirical approaches to study the physical acoustics of spoken language. On the other hand, semantically and grammatically, the usability of a formal or natural language is dependent on a formal and arbitrary axiomatization of rules or norms. Furthermore, as studied in pragmatics and semiotics, linguistic meaning is influenced by social context.[5]

To enable communication by upholding a lexico-semantic norm, the speakers of a shared language need to agree on the meaning of a sequence of phonemes; for instance, "aunt" (/æ/, /n/, /t/) would be acknowledged to signify "parent's sister or parent's sister-in-law", instead of "drummer" or "guest". Likewise, grammatically, it may be necessary for the interlocutors to agree on the morphological and syntactic properties of the sequence; say, that the sequence (/æ/ , /n/, /t/) would be treated as a singular noun convertible morphologically to plurality by the addition of the suffix -s, or that as a noun it must not be modified syntactically by an adverb (for instance, "Let's call our immediately aunt" would thus be recognized as a grammatically incoherent structure, in a manner similar to a mathematically undefined expression).

See also


  1. ^ a b Crystal, David (1990). Linguistics. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-013531-2.
  2. ^ Spolsky, Bernard; Hult, Francis M. (February 2010). The Handbook of Educational Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4443-3104-2.
  3. ^ Berns, Margie (20 March 2010). Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Elsevier. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-08-096503-1.
  4. ^ "The Science of Linguistics". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved 17 April 2018. Modern linguists approach their work with a scientific perspective, although they use methods that used to be thought of as solely an academic discipline of the humanities. Contrary to previous belief, linguistics is multidisciplinary. It overlaps each of the human sciences including psychology, neurology, anthropology, and sociology. Linguists conduct formal studies of sound structure, grammar and meaning, but they also investigate the history of language families, and research language acquisition.
  5. ^ a b c Behme, Christina; Neef, Martin. Essays on Linguistic Realism (2018). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 7–20