What is Linguistics: Definition and 21 Discussions

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them.
The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Each of these areas roughly corresponds to phenomena found in human linguistic systems: sounds (and gesture, in the case of signed languages), minimal units (words, morphemes), phrases and sentences, and meaning and use.
Linguistics studies these phenomena in diverse ways and from various perspectives. Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with building models of these systems, their parts (ontologies), and their combinatorics. Psycholinguistics builds theories of the processing and production of all these phenomena. These phenomena may be studied synchronically or diachronically (through history), in monolinguals or polyglots, in children or adults, as they are acquired or statically, as abstract objects or as embodied cognitive structures, using texts (corpora) or through experimental elicitation, by gathering data mechanically, through fieldwork, or through introspective judgment tasks. Computational linguistics implements theoretical constructs to parse or produce natural language or homologues. Neurolinguistics investigates linguistic phenomena by experiments on actual brain responses involving linguistic stimuli.
Linguistics is related to philosophy of language, stylistics and rhetoric, semiotics, lexicography, and translation.

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  1. Algr

    Is there a word for this? The means become the end...

    Is there a word for when when the purpose of some activity is forgotten, and the activity is confused as an end in itself. The means becomes the end? Examples: You need a ladder, so you cut down a tree to make one. Then remember that the reason you wanted the ladder was to climb the tree...
  2. F

    Linguistics: tense and lax consonants in English

    Do tenseness and laxness of consonants in English depend on people saying them?Or are there tense and lax consonants in English?If there are, which consonants(in English) are tense and which are lax consonants?
  3. F

    Spectral characteristics in linguistics

    In the Wikipedia article on prosody in linguistics it says: There is no agreed number of prosodic variables. In auditory terms, the major variables are: the pitch of the voice (varying between low and high) length of sounds (varying between short and long) loudness, or prominence (varying...
  4. A

    Tracing correct words from Jumbled words using machine learning

    Can we trace all correct words from Jumbled words using machine learning prediction, search algorithms? https://builtin.com/machine-learning/nlp-machine-learning Input Dataset : Jumbled words. Jumbled word example: oolp Output : pool, loop, polo.
  5. Algr

    Spelling reform in reverse?

    I was watching a video about english spelling reform where the author, as an aside, pointed out something that I thought was rather more important than anything else in the video: A fully phonetic alphabet is impossible because we don't agree on what the words are supposed to sound like. You...
  6. M

    What would it take to make a “true” universal translator?

    Besides telepathy, what could I use to explain the properties of a device that is a TRUE universal translator, a handheld device that can decipher any language it encounters? I don’t know much about linguistics but I was told that even in a sci-fi setting, this is impossible. Jack Buchanan even...
  7. W

    I Probability that a Random String is a Word

    Hi, Say L is a human language (e.g. German, Chinese, etc.) and w is a string in L of length n>1. Is it known for different languages what the probability is that w is a word in L? And if S is an ordered set of strings, the probability that S is grammatically correct in L? I mean, I know or have...
  8. S

    Looking for wanna

    This is in reference to post #10 and 11 in https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/i-dont-have-physics-what-can-i-do.958089/#post-6075184 These are NOT what I am listening to now, as like another of the forum topic. This is just to show an indication how widespread is this both used and...
  9. Auto-Didact

    Language as a Dynamical System

    A few years ago I read two pretty groundbreaking linguistic papers from the 90s arguing that natural languages are networks which can be conceptualized from the perspective of nonlinear dynamical systems theory, with a lexicon being a state space and grammatical rules being attractors in that...
  10. H

    Other Linguistics Book: Overview of Languages from Antiquity to Present

    Which book gives a thorough overview of the structures of all the general languages from antiquity to present? If there is no such book, a suggestion on the way of achieving it, would also be helpful.
  11. Doriana

    Anyone who's interested in linguistics?

    I know that this is a physics forum and that a physics forum might not be the best place to find linguistics enthusiasts. But I'll try anyway. Is there anyone on here who is genuinely interested in linguistics? I'm a linguistics nerd myself, and I'm particularly interested in...
  12. D

    Relation between physiology and accent (linguistics)?

    Do you believe genetics can cause one to have a particular accent in a given language? Or are accents only related to post-birth personal development? Are there ethnicities having anatomically distinct voice boxes, that have more difficulty in emulating specific accents? I tend to...
  13. T

    Oddball question about linguistics wrt evolution of language

    Has anyone ever tried to establish an approx rate that languages evolve, in a similar way that genetic change was used to establish a molecular clock of sorts? (disclaimer: i know zero about linguistics) thanks someone.
  14. M

    LINGUISTICS: contributions of Latin and Greek to English

    From my understanding, the line of descent of the English language looks like this: Modern English << Middle English << Old English << Anglo-Saxon << Old Saxon/other Old Germanic languages. Also, from my understanding, somewhere between 50-70% of all modern English words have Latin and/or...
  15. K

    The Convergence of Linguistics and Mathematics

    I have a question that I've been pondering recently. As far as I can tell, it's original to the boards or at least hasn't been discussed in a long time so I think it's fair to start a new topic. This concerns initial bases for thought. It would seem that both language and mathematics are the...
  16. SkyWatcher

    Philosophy of Language and Linguistics

    To whom it may concern, I am looking for any articles on the uses of the preposition "of" in mathematics. I once read in a teacher's edition of a pre-algebra textbook that suggested students should be taught, as early as possible, the many uses of the preposition "of" in mathematics, but I...
  17. N

    Math and Language (Specifically Linguistics)

    As many of you know, precise language is necessary for effective communication in mathematics. Although I find that I am quite capable of communicating my thoughts effectively and clearly, I feel that there is always room for improvement. Please recommend an introductory, and perhaps a...
  18. Shackleford

    Guide to Intro Linguistics: Find the Perfect Textbook

    I'm looking for a good introductory linguistics textbook. Unfortunately, I'm not able to squeeze a class into my physics degree. Thanks for any recommendations.
  19. Shackleford

    What's a good Linguistics textbook?

    I'd like to find a good intro. or whatever Linguistics textbook I can buy online. Thanks.
  20. J

    Semantic completeness (in linguistics)

    This is kind of a dumb question but I really can't find a definition anywhere. Can anyone help?
  21. honestrosewater

    Combining Math and Linguistics

    I'm getting ready to return to school and am trying to figure out how to combine my interests. I plan on attending grad school, so I'm looking at my undergrad work as just preparatory. I have a specific, long-term project in mind that covers four areas: math (mainly logic and foundations)...