Linguistics

The Study of Language

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(416 words)

Linguistics is the study of languages and therefore should be studied objectively. A slight contradiction, however, is that as humans, we are studying an aspect of ourselves with no other way of talking about the language other than through the language itself and therefore may be prone to make subjective assumptions that an outsider may not.

Many species communicate through sound. Although there is no evidence with things such as animals, we can assume that pauses and tones in sounds lend themselves to forming complex phrases. This is also made easier by visual stimuli whereby we are able to correlate repeated signals in accordance with specific actions. For example, the scream of a child or a hiss of a snake is only heard in specific situations that can often be interpreted as dangerous or painful. Thus by observing certain sounds in different situations, we can gain clues as to their meaning.

Being humans we have an advantage in that we are able to distinguish between what a natural body function like sneezing is compared with spoken language. We know that language is made up of units of words. However, it is important to note that we cannot take a word in our own language and assume that it has exactly the same meaning in another. For instance,  the word ‘Shima’ taken from the Navajo language, while this word translates as ‘mother’, it has a far broader meaning that lends itself more towards ‘a giver of life’ and as such many things fall under the term ‘mother’ such as earth and trees.

Another important issue to bear in mind particularly within the English language is that of the written word contrasted with the spoken word.  Written words often do not correspond with their phonetic pronunciation. Therefore it became necessary to create a system to help overcome this. This system is now commonly used with many languages and is known as IPA or the International Phonetic Alphabet. This system allows us to know the phonetic spelling of a word. It is a rather scientific approach in trying to develop an insight into a language and almost ironic that we have to develop another language to try and understand or explain our own language.

Linguistics makes advances into many areas of study such as sociology, anthropology, and even philosophy. While many argue that it is a subject of the humanities, the approach needed to study it is systematic and scientific by nature and thus generally considered a scientific study.

A linguistics class reflection

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(1102 Words)

Six days of attending linguistic lectures spread over three weeks can not be a major amount of time to achieve a solid and complete knowledge of linguistics, but all the same, this essay will try to establish how I accomplished a relative level of understanding through my studies. I tried hard to combine items raised in these lectures, my classmates’ comments, further reading away from the class, and clarity added by my focus group. I will try to highlight some of the points that stuck in my mind regarding linguistics while giving a little insight into the further ideas into the subject.

To begin with, would be to give my general view of linguistics. So, as I researched I found that linguistics is the study of human languages, where within this the science examines not only the structure of language but also its use and the structure in the mind. A layman may think that a linguist, the person who is skilled in linguistics, only looks at rules and grammar, but it is so much more than this. The subject takes in such fields as humanity, science, society, philosophy and literary criticism. Language is not as routine as some may think, and it is astonishing to think that language came from one source which spread across the world to create 6000 more. A learner of linguistics then would be amazed how many branches of linguistics have been created. So, without language where would we be?

My first recognisable factor about the classes was the highlighting of daily use of language which has to be the main dynamic in anyone’s scaffolding of knowledge. The more any speaker uses it, the more they will be able to use their fresh available knowledge of language. The lecturer actually mentioned that reading and writing inspire to make you more creative with your writing and speaking. This, I found to be a sensible choice to further one’s linguistic knowledge. The path that I followed on this course was not the one that I thought and as such I would like to draw attention to some of the further points.

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The Study of Linguistics – A reflection

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(964 words)

My initial thought would be to give my general view of linguistics. Therefore, linguistics is the study of human languages where within this the science examines not only the structure of language but also its use and the structure in the mind. A layman may think that a linguist, the person who is skilled in linguistics, only looks at rules and grammar but it is so much more than this. The subject takes in such fields as humanity, science, society, philosophy, and literary criticism. Language is not as routine as some may think and it is astonishing to think that language came from one source which spread across the world to create 6000 more. A learner of linguistics then would be amazed how many branches of linguistics have been created. Without language where would we be?

The first recognizable factor, I found, was the highlighting of daily use of language which has to be the main dynamic in anyone’s scaffolding of knowledge. The more any speaker uses it, the more they will be able to use their fresh available knowledge of language. Reading and writing inspire to make people more creative with their writing and speaking. This is a sensible choice to further anyone’s linguistic knowledge. This would seem straightforward. However, the path that I followed was not the one that I thought and as such, I would like to draw attention to some further points.

The Power of Babel by John McWhorter

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