Linguistics departmental information

Linguistics investigates all aspects of spoken and written human language. It is especially concerned with the general principles of language structure, its use and acquisition, with the structure and history of particular languages and groups of languages, with the role of language in human experience, and with the techniques employed in analyzing and describing language. The concentration in Linguistics is intended to provide an understanding of human language and its systematic study, as well as provide the opportunity to explore the importance of language in all areas of human life.

The general field of linguistics includes several subfields. Phonetics and phonology are especially concerned with the sounds of speech. Phonetics emphasizes the physical characteristics of speech sounds, and phonology deals with the way in which speech sounds are organized in languages. Syntax examines the way in which smaller units of language, such as words, are organized into the complex structure of phrases and sentences. Semantics seeks to understand how the forms of language are used to express meaning. Historical and comparative linguistics is   concerned with the ways in which languages change through time, with the variations in language from place to place, and with the possible relationship among languages. Historical linguistics also includes the study of the history of specific languages and language groups, and the reconstruction of pre-historic languages.

In addition to these subfields of linguistics, several other sub-disciplines relate linguistics to other fields of study. Psycholinguistics treats language in its psychological aspects and is especially concerned with the ways in which cultural patterns and values relate to language structure, use, and change. Sociolinguistics deals with the interrelationship of language and society and with the covariation of language and social form. Computational linguistics is concerned with the utilization of computational techniques in the analysis of language.

Some areas in which the findings of linguistics have found application include: translation, the design and documentation of computer software, language and national policy, speech pathology and speech therapy, the development of writing systems for previously unwritten languages, the teaching of first language skills such as reading and writing, and the teaching of second languages.



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