•  The word ‘Linguistics’ has been derived from Latin “lingua(tongue)” and “istics” (knowledge/science).
  • Linguistics is the scientific study of language.
  • Linguistics is the systematic study of the structure and evolution of human language, and it is applicable to every aspect of human endeavor.
  • Diachronic linguistics studies the development of language through history.
  • Synchronic linguistics studies how the people speak and use a language in given speech community at a given time.
  • Comparative linguistics is concerned with comparing two or more different languages.
  • Linguistics that is concerned with the structure of language is divided Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics . 
  • Interdisciplinary branches of Linguistics are Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, Ethnolinguistics ( Anthropological Linguistics), Dialectology, Computational Linguistics, Neurolinguistics.


  • Phonetics is the scientific study of production, transmission and reception of speech sounds.
  • It studies spoken language.
  • Phoneticians try to study how the various organs of speech organs like- the lungs, the larynx, the soft palate, the tongue and the lips are using in the production of speech sounds.
  • The study of Phonetics can be divided into three main branches: Acoustic, Auditory and Articulatory.
  • Acoustic Phonetics: Study of physical features of speech sounds.
  • Auditory Phonetics: Study of hearing and perception of speech sounds.
  • Articulatory Phonetics: Study the movement of speech organs.
  • The ancient Hindu Rishis who composed Vedas stressed the correct pronunciation of mantras.
  • The first known phonetic studies were carried out as early as in the 6th century BCE by Sanskrit grammarians.
  • The most widely known system of phonetic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), provides a standardized set of symbols for oral phones.

Noam Chomsky

  • Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist.
  • He is called as “the father of modern linguistics”.
  • Born to working-class Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia.
  • He developed the theory of “Transformational Grammar” for which he earned his doctorate in 1955.
  • He emerged as a prominent figure in linguistics with his landmark work “Syntactic Structures”.
  • He created or co-created the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program.
  • Chomsky also played a role in the decline of behaviorism.
  • He was particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.
  • The basis of Chomsky’s linguistic theory lies in Biolinguistics.
  • Chomsky challenges structural linguistics and introduces transformational grammar.
  • “Syntactic Structures” is his major work in linguistics and was first published in 1957.
  • “Syntactic Structures” is Chomsky’s first book.
  • This work introduced the idea of ‘transformational generative grammar’.
  • Chomsky’s theory shows that language consists of both deep structures and surface structures.
  • Chomsky’s contributions, not only transformed the field of linguistics, his work has influenced fields such as cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, computer science, mathematics, childhood education, and anthropology.

Descriptive linguistics

  • The branch of linguistics which describes the structure of a language or languages as they exist, without reference to their histories or to comparison with other languages.
  • Descriptive linguistics is a subfield of linguistics that studies and describes language in structural terms.
  • Descriptive linguistics emphasizes the primacy of speech, the adoption of a synchronic approach, and the description of language and dialect systems as they are found to be spoken.
  • The rise of descriptive linguistics is generally attributed to the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist.
  • In Cours de linguistique générale, a collation of his lecture notes published posthumously in 1916, Saussure laid out the general principles and methods of what has come to be known as descriptive linguistics.
  • Descriptive linguistics is also known as synchronic linguistics.
  • The goal of descriptive linguistics is to “discover” a grammar by performing a set of operations on a corpus of data. The levels of grammatical description are to be arrived at in the following order:
    1. Phonetics (speech sounds)
    2. Phonemics (phonemes and allophones)
    3. Morphemics (morphemes and allomorphs)
    4. Syntax (sentence construction)
    5. Discourse (use of speech)

Comparative Linguistics

  • Comparative linguistics is concerned with comparing one or more points of view of two or more different languages.
  • Comparative linguistics is concerned with the evolution of languages.
  • This comparison is generally done between the languages which are generally related, that is developed from some common sources.
  • Said to have originated in 1786.
  • The old name for the subject was Comparative Philology.
  • The fundamental technique of comparative linguistics is to compare phonological systems, morphological systems, syntax and the lexicon of two or more languages using techniques such as the comparative method.
  • The study was originally stimulated by the discovery by Sir William Jonesin 1786 that Sanskrit was related to Latin, Greek, and German.
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