Linguistics

The word 'Linguistics, has been derived from Latin lingua (tongue) and istics (knowledge or science). Etymologically, therefore, linguistics is the scientific study of language. But it is the study not of one particular language but of human language in general. It studies language as a universal and recognizable part of human behaviour. It attempts to describe and analyse language. The field of linguistics comprises language in all its form and manifestations. Its aim is to seek a scientific understanding of the place of language in human life, the ways in which it is organized to fulfil the needs it serves, and the functions it performs.

So linguistics is that science which studies the origin, organization, nature and development of language descriptively, historically, comparatively and explicitly, and formulates the general rules related to language. Diachronic (historical) linguistics studies the development of language through history, through time, for example, the way in which French and Italian have evolved from Latin. Synchronic linguistics investigates how the people speak and use language in a given speech community at a given time. In Comparative linguistics one is concerned with comparing two or more different languages

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Like all other sciences linguistics has a well-defined subject matter, natural languages, living or dead; it employs careful methods to observe, record and analyse the various phenomena related to its subject matter and hopes to produce unprejudiced, objective and verifiable descriptions. The approach and methodology of linguistics is scientific. It is as inductive as a science could be, and is based on observations, formation of hypothesis, testing, verification, tentativeness and predictiveness. 


Definition of Language

Language is the most complex human trait. No single definition of language is perfect. In a nutshell, it is an 'organized system of noise' used in real social context. Some popular definitions are given below.

1. "Language is a primarily human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols. Sapir, Language, 1921.

2. "Language in its widest sense means the sum of such signs of our thoughts and feelings as are capable of external perception and as could be produced and repeated at will." A.H. Gardiner, Speech and Language, 1935. 

3. "Language may be defined as the expression of thought by means of speech-sounds." Henry Sweet, The History of Language.

4-"A system of communication by sound, i.e. through the organs of speech and hearing, among human beings of a certain group or community, using vocal symbols possessing arbitrary conventional meanings. Marie A. Pei and Frank Gaynor, Dictionary of Linguistics, 1954.

5- According to Transformational Generative linguists like Noam Chomsky, language is the innate capacity of native speakers to understand and form grammatical sentences.

All the definitions which have been produced by different linguists so far, focus different aspects of human such as social, psychological, cultural, philosophical etc. So, no single definition is perfect. 

Anthropologists regard language as a form, sociologist as an interaction between members of a social group, students of literature as an artistic medium, philosophers as a means of interpreting human experience, language teachers as a set of skills. Truly, language is such a complex phenomenon that to define it in terms of a single level as knowledge, behaviour, skill, habit, an event or an object will not solve the problem of its definition. None of the above definition is perfect. Each of them just hints at certain characteristics of language.