Linguistics - Why it is Worth Looking Into

By: John Xavier

What Is Linguistics?

Linguistics is, according to Merriam-Webster, "the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language." It is important to note that linguistics deals with the analysis of any language, not just English.

A lot of ground is covered in linguistics. Some topics include: the evolution of language, how do languages differ from each other, the structure of human languages, dialects, speech acts, pronunciation, historical linguistics, and even informal topics like "made-up" languages, puns, and how the internet has influenced our language.

Why study Linguistics?

One of the questions you may ask is why study linguistics?

Linguistics deals with how to analyze any human language, thus making it an interesting subject. One doesn't necessarily need to speak any particular language to understand linguistics. It is not as narrow as one might think; there are plenty of applications of linguistics that are useful in everyday life. Like mentioned earlier, it does not necessarily have to be a technical topic at all. Linguistics can be explained using terms that most people can understand, and technical terms can be used sparingly.

Words and phrases used in everyday life can have interesting origins, and the many branches of linguistics can help you understand why we say things in a particular fashion and other times why we do not. Language structure and language use play greater roles in our lives than one may think.

One topic of interest in linguistics is phonetics and phonology- the study of sound systems of language. This may seem narrow, but it does have its uses: like why we say "ah" when opening your mouth at the dentist, and why we say "cheese" when posing for a picture. There are much broader topics like language universals- things that are common to all languages.

It many not seem obvious at first glance, but all languages, even those that differ by orthography (writing), have something in common with each other. The goal of linguistics is not to improve fluency in a particular language, but rather to learn how to analyze any natural language. Linguistics is definitely a topic that is worthy of being studied.

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