8 October 2009
Phonetics is the study of the production and perception of speech sounds. It is concerned with the sounds of language, how these sounds are articulated and how the listener perceives them. Morphology is the study of word formation and structure. It studies how words are put together from their smaller parts and the rules governing this process. Semantics is the study of meaning. It is concerned with describing how we represent the meaning of a word in our mind and how we use this representation in constructing sentences. Semantics is based largely on the study of logic in philosophy or the science of meaning. Syntax is the study of sentence structure. It attempts to describe what is grammatically correct in a particular language in terms of rules. These rules detail an underlying structure and a transformational process. Finally, pragmatics studies the meaning of words in context.
The fundamental goal of the linguist is to try to discover the universals in relation to language. That is, what are the common elements of all languages? The linguist then tries to place these elements into a theoretical framework that will describe all languages and also predict what cannot occur in a language. The study of linguistics permits a person to better understand the world around them, as this world is constantly being filtered through and organized by language. The work of someone who studies linguistics can vary.
Many linguists pursue a career in academia or education. With additional training, a linguist may teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at home or abroad. Another option is to teach linguistics at the college level. Those with a background in linguistics are also qualified to work in the field of curriculum development of teacher training in the area of language arts. Another route taken by linguists is to teach a foreign language at all levels of study. With the knowledge of...