Linguistics is the systematic and scientific study of human language that focuses on the structure and function of language. It investigates and analyzes different elements and aspects of language like phonetics, phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, discourse, and texts. So the study of linguistics is vast and widespread. That is why the scopes/ areas/branches are vast as well. Those are described below
Branches of linguistics
There are three main branches of linguistics identified by different linguists. Those are
- Descriptive Linguistics
- Historical linguistics and
- Applied linguistics
These branches are further explained below
It primarily deals with the study of the structure of language. The elements of descriptive linguistics are
Phonetics is a part of descriptive linguistics that is concerned with the production, transmission, and perception of speech sounds. It focuses on spoken language and all other phenomena relevant to it. Phoneticians describe speech sounds with the proper reference to the place of articulation like tongue, jaws, palate, alveolar ridge along with manners of articulations like an explosion, friction, intermittent closer, etc.
It also deals with prosodic and suprasegmental aspects of spoken language such as duration, frequency, intensity, tone, intonation, and so on.
Phonology is known as the study of linguistics sound systems. Phonologists investigate sound substitutions which are replacements of one speech sound with another and the functional consequences that these substitutions have for word meaning. Replacing one sound with another sound changes the word meaning.
For example brick and trick.
It stands for the branch of linguistics that deals with the scientific study of forms and structures of words in a language. It is concerned with the identification of morphemes that is the smallest meaningful and indivisible grammatical units of a language.
For example; imperfections is divided into Im, Perfect, ion, and s.
It is the combination of words into phrases and sentences. It is concerned with the structure of sentences and decides which words go where and which words combine with which etc. it also identifies differences between written and spoken language. In a word, syntax studies sentence construction and provide guidelines to apply the rules for framing correct sentences in a particular language.
Semantics is the study of meaning in language this is an independent level and has some sub-types as word, grammatical, sentence, and utterance meaning. It focuses on the meaning without reference to the context or the situation. The aim of semantics is to discover why meaning is more complex than it seems when written down simply in sentences. It looks at meaning in language in isolation from the language itself.
Pragmatics is the study of language that is used for interpersonal communication. It focuses on the intended meaning of the utterance which can be different from the literal meaning. It is because context or situation affects the meaning of the utterance. That is why it is said that pragmatics is the study of meaning in context. It also looks beyond the literal meaning to see how the sentences are constructed and how the meanings are implied. So pragmatics deals with the language which has communicative value rather than the structural aspect of language.
Discourse analysis deals with the structure and patterning of discourse which is human speech. It uses the language presented in a corpus or body to draw meaning. For example, any interview of a group conversation. Here, the context is taken into account along with what is being said in the conversation.
It studies the development of language in the courses of time. There are five branches of historical linguistics identified by linguists
The study of variations among different regional dialects of any language is known as dialect geography. It is a subfield of dialectology. It focuses on the geographical distribution of linguistics features.
Linguistic borrowing refers to the process of modifying a language by adopting sounds, words or constructions of another language. For example, the English language has many words that have been borrowed from Latin, Greek, French, and other languages. Some of the borrowed words are Coupon, bachelor, chic, elite, etc.
Language family deals with the origin of language. For example, linguists have found out that all the major languages of the world have come from four Indo- European language families as Indo Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, and Italic. This branch of linguistics tries to explore the language family of any language.
It is a hypothetical process where linguists try to reconstruct a language that is no longer spoken. It is done for those languages that do not have any written documents either.
Lexico- statistics is a method of comparative linguistics that is an integral part of historical linguistics. It refers to the rate of segments of vocabulary loss or percentage of retention that is used to determine chronological linguistic relationships.
It deals with the teaching of any language whether it is a native or a foreign language. The theoretical knowledge of this discipline helps the language teacher in teaching a language.
Stylistics deals with the systematic and scientific study of literature and literary style. So it is the application of linguistics in literary analysis.
It deals with the relationship between linguistics and the psychological aspects of learning a language.
For example, the first language acquisition and second language acquisition process.
It is the study of language as a social and cultural phenomenon taking geography, culture, social class, age, sex, gender, etc.
It guides the translator to conduct his task properly so that the cultural barriers and other issues cannot bother him.
It deals with writing the dictionary scientifically. Lexicographers are heavily dependent on this branch.
Speech pathology and therapy:
It studies the disorder of spoken or written language that proves to be helpful in correcting the mother tongue as well as a foreign language.
It deals with the techniques and concepts of computer science like artificial intelligence, machine translation, etc.
Language and advertisement:
It helps the commercial industry to use language in the advertisements aiming for more sales and profit.
So these are the scopes, areas, and branches of linguistics.