Linguistics, Approach

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Summary

Linguistics is a research field devoted to the science of language. Its aspects include language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest known activities in the description of language have been attributed to Pāṇini around 500 BCE, with his analysis of Sanskrit in Ashtadhyayi.

Details

One major debate in linguistics concerns how language should be defined and understood. Some linguists use the term "language" primarily to refer to a hypothesised, innate module in the human brain that allows people to undertake linguistic behavior, which is part of the formalist approach. This "universal grammar" is considered to guide children when they learn languages and to constrain what sentences are considered grammatical in any language. Proponents of this view, which is predominant in those schools of linguistics that are based on the generative theory of Noam Chomsky, do not necessarily consider that language evolved for communication in particular. They consider instead that it has more to do with the process of structuring human thought (see also formal grammar).

Another group of linguists, by contrast, use the term "language" to refer to a communication system that developed to support cooperative activity and extend cooperative networks. Such theories of grammar view language as a tool that emerged and is adapted to the communicative needs of its users, and the role of cultural evolutionary processes are often emphasised over that of biological evolution.

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External Links

  • WikipediaThe Linguist ListGlossary of linguistic termsLanguage LogGlottopediaLinguistic sub-fields"Linguistics" section

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