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Linguistics is the scientific study of language. The modern-day scientific study of linguistics takes all aspects of language into account — i.e., the cognitive, the social, the cultural, the psychological, the environmental, the biological, the literary, the grammatical, the paleographical, and the structural. Linguistics is based on the theoretical as well as descriptive study of language, and is also interlinked with the applied fields of language studies and language learning, which entails the study of specific languages. Before the 20th century, linguistics evolved in an informal manner that did not employ scientific methods.
Modern linguistics is considered to be an applied science as well as an academic field of general study within the humanities and social sciences. Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to syntax (rules governing the structure of sentences), semantics (meaning), morphology (structure of words), phonetics (speech sounds and equivalent gestures in sign languages), phonology (the abstract sound system of a particular language), and pragmatics (how social context contributes to meaning). Subdisciplines such as biolinguistics (the study of the biological variables and evolution of language) and psycholinguistics (the study of psychological factors in human language) bridge many of these divisions.
Linguistics encompasses many branches and subfields that span both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with understanding the universal and fundamental nature of language and developing a general theoretical framework for describing it. Applied linguistics seeks to utilise the scientific findings of the study of language for practical purposes, such as developing methods of improving language education and literacy.
Linguistic features may be studied through a variety of perspectives: synchronically (by describing the shifts in a language at a certain specific point of time) or diachronically (through the historical development of language over several periods of time), in monolinguals or in multilinguals, amongst children or amongst adults, in terms of how it is being learned or how it was acquired, as abstract objects or as cognitive structures, through written texts or through oral elicitation, and finally through mechanical data collection or through practical fieldwork. (Full article...)