Other creatures are able to communicate, but none have complex languages as humans do. Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It includes studying the history of languages and how they change over time, the sounds we use when speaking, the meaning and organization of words, and the similarities and differences between languages.
- A person who studies language is called a linguist. They may focus on the history of language or on how language is currently used. Often a person who speaks several languages is also referred to as a linguist
- Even in a group that speaks primarily one language, like English spoken in the United States, there many different dialects. A sociolinguist is someone who studies the differences in language in different groups of people or even from one individual to another.
- Think of how important language is. We use it to communicate our thoughts, knowledge, understandings, feelings, and needs. Most people are really good at speaking. The study of language can help us understand ourselves better.
- Sounds are very important in language. Phonetics is the study of the different sounds used in language.
- Grammar is an important part of linguistics. It involves the structure of words, the patterns of the basic sounds in language, and the way words combine to form sentences.
- Have you ever spoken with Alexa, Google, Siri, or other virtual assistants? If so, you have been involved in computational linguistics. It is the study computer scientists use to make communication between humans and artificial intelligences possible.
- Humans have such a strong need for language that we pick it up quickly. Young children learn thousands of words every year. They learn best if they have adults who speak with them and read to them often.
- Non-verbal communication is also considered in the study of linguistics. We express ourselves not only through our words but also through expressions and movements.
Dialect: A variety of language that is spoken by people in a certain area or by a particular group of people.
Non-verbal communication: Forms of communication other than words, such as facial expressions, gestures, body language, and the tone or loudness of voice.
Questions and Answers
Question: How many languages are spoken in the world?
Answer: There are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world, although some of these are spoken by fewer than 1000 people.
Question: Are many jobs available in the field of linguistics?
Answer: There are many jobs available for a linguist since language is such an important part of life. Linguists work in education, technology, interpretation, research, and even in solving crimes.
Learn more about the evolution of language.