Linguistics, Variation and Universality

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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.


While some theories on linguistics focus on the different varieties that language produces, among different sections of society, others focus on the universal properties that are common to all given languages at one given time on the planet. The theory of variation therefore would elaborate on the different usages of popular languages like French and English across the globe, as well as its smaller dialects and regional permutations within their national boundaries. The theory of variation looks at the cultural stages that a particular language undergoes, and these include the following.

The first stage is pidgin, the contracted word for "business", or that phase in the creation of a language's variation when new, non-native speakers undertake a mainstream language and use its phrases and words in a broken manner that often attempts to be overly literal in meaning. At this junction, many of the linguistic characteristics of the native speakers' own language or mother tongue influence their use of the mainstream language, and that is when it arrives at the latter stage of being called a creole. Creoles are dialects or languages that have been nativised after synthesizing two parent languages, because there are people who grow up speaking a language when it is at that stage.

For instance, when a Chinese speaker just begins to speak English, he or she will at first use English at the level of a pidgin language: broken words, lack of grammatical form and structure, and weak or negligible vocabulary. Once the Chinese speaker begins to learn English and use it to its full capacity, the generations that follow and learn the language will become a variety of English, and this variety may be referred to as a creole language. "Chinese English" (as opposed to British English or American English, which have a longer history as varieties), is therefore a creole. Hence, this process in the creation of dialects and varieties of languages as globally popular as English and French, as well as others like Spanish, for instance, is one that is rooted in the changing evolution and growth of each language. These variating factors are studied in order to understand the different usages and dialects that a language develops over time. Some of the recent research done in this arena includes David Crystal's analysis of the use of English, as well as his study of changing trends in language usage on the Internet, through his formulation of a new field of study that has been titled Internet linguistics.

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External Links

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

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