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What is linguistics?

Modern linguistics was influenced in the studies developed by Ferdinand de Saussure in the 19th century, this student of the subject made it clear and precise that it is linguistic and language distinction, being defined as the study that includes both the structure of the native languages, as the aspects associated with it.

During the twentieth century, the renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, added a fundamental aspect to the subject, developing what is known as the current of generativism, this new perspective is part of the linguistic variant that is based on the fact that speech is a process mental, and as such, the individual must be trained in their growth to develop speech skills. Meanwhile, from the point of view of speech, the text will be considered as the superior unit of communication and pragmatic as the one in charge of studying the enunciation and the enunciation.

History of Linguistics

Linguistic historiography has been a rather late discipline, since only from the second half of the last century the extension and conception manuals are presented in a varied way. In most cases they deal with the development of linguistics in the first half of the twentieth century, sometimes in the nineteenth century, paying little attention to the periods before the nineteenth century and ignoring the new currents and disciplines that are formed from the second half of the twentieth century. On the other hand, they are also variables in the geographical scope that they cover, since the majority is dedicated to the development of linguistics in the West, with the usual exclusion of Eastern Europe, and those that are limited exclusively to specific countries are not lacking.

The historical period is one that preserves the written evidence of the time, coupled with it, the pre-scientific period , which includes all opinions, theories or linguistic sign about the language and which were those that appeared from ancient times until the beginning of the century XIX.

It is important to clarify that the scientific time , which is in the second decade of the nineteenth century and the one that arrives today, is undoubtedly the most important for the main schools and linguistic currents, it is so much that from the grammar, and historical of the Century XIX until the linguistic structuralism, has had great development and contribution by its American variant.

The descriptive linguistics , through new theories developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contributed to the whole language family, it is both the publication of Saussure, the Geneva school, the Prague school and Copenhagen are among the most important, making progress in the development of structural linguistics in Europe, including Poland and the Soviet Union.

So far it is thought that a first sub-period of the scientific period distinguished by the author could be extended, since from the fifties the linguistic codes arise as he himself has indicated, where a series of currents, schools and disciplines that They will characterize the second half of the 20th century.

Indeed, as of the date mentioned, linguistic codes not only appear within the generative and transformational grammar, in semantics, semiotics and modern experimental phonetics, but arise, by virtue of the advancement of all sciences, a series of disciplines that, in general, are located in the limits of two or more traditional disciplines and therefore, are very complicated to describe precisely in terms of their content.

To the traditionally dominant sciences physics, chemistry and biology joined mathematics, logic and computer science, the proof of this is that currently the various sciences have reciprocal influence, for example among them it is noted that studies linguistics, sociology and philosophy, among others. Hence, and for practical reasons, a limited number of disciplines have been established that deal with all the issues, issues and problems that characterize the linguistic resources of the mentioned period, reducing interdisciplinary sciences only to six: psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics , sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, semiotics and philosophy of language.

What does linguistics study?

Linguistics (from linguistic French) is the science that studies all aspects of language , such as the ability to communicate that humans have and all aspects of a language as a concrete manifestation of that ability. Until birth and linguistic functions such as science, grammar was traditionally the one that assumed the study of language. Within the sciences that involve linguistics, syntax, lexicography, linguistic theory, morphology and spelling can be mentioned, among others.

There are interpretations that should be avoided, such as when it is said that linguistics refers to a linguistic formation, unlike an individual who has the ability to speak different languages ​​is called Polyglot . Linguistics does not consist, therefore, in language learning or literary text analysis.

In the study of language the following aspects are distinguished:

  • General: theoretical study of language that is responsible for research methods and issues common to the various languages.
  • Linguistic application: branch of linguistic studies that deal with problems that are translated into language, as a means of social relations , especially with regard to language teaching.
  • Comparative linguistics: comparative grammar.
  • Computational linguistics; application of the methods of linguistic or artificial intelligence, to the treatment of linguistic issues.
  • Evolutionary linguistics: diachronic linguistics.

Describe the languages

The human being communicates through written and oral signs that have an established denomination and that somehow keeps him in touch with his surroundings and with society.

Language is the way in which humanity satisfies the need to communicate , one of the most important characteristics of the human being is language, because through it people can express their ideas , emotions and feelings, that’s why our duty as users of a language is to respect it.

It is estimated that there are approximately 6,000 known and spoken languages , however this figure is not entirely accurate since there are several factors such as the absence of a universal criterion that determines whether two dialects with a certain level of reciprocal intelligibility should be taken as dialects of the same language or two different languages. Similarly, it may happen that there are people who speak a language that was thought extinct, but is used by them in their daily lives. All this indicates that it is difficult to specify for sure, the number of languages ​​existing worldwide.

Another interesting fact is the fact that the region where there is the least linguistic diversity is Europe and the region with the greatest diversity is New Guinea.

Linguistic change

Linguistic change refers to a characteristic inherent in the language. Linguistic change refers to the process of modification and transformation experienced by languages ​​over time, that is, diachronically and where they intervene, internal and external causes. The types of linguistic changes are:

Phonological change

When the differential content of the sources and their distribution are transformed .

Phonetic change

It is the one that refers directly to the sounds.

Lexical-semantic change

It refers both to the meaning of the words and to the lexical forms and written representations of the language.

Morphological-syntactic change

It refers to the form, grammar, syntax and structure of the language.

The linguistic change can be caused by various causes: the internal ones that are the linguistic ones and refer to:

Phonetic laws represent a factor of change. It is a change of direction. It is not found in the isolated word, but in all words.

System pressure (paradigmatic pressure) refers to the language seen as a system, where each element depends on the others, the effect of any change in an element cannot be considered an isolated phenomenon, since it affects the entire constitution of the linguistic system in general.

Search for lost languages

Lost languages ​​are also known as dead languages those that are not a mother tongue, nor are they spoken in any population or community, which did exist, but eventually became extinct and replaced by others. It may be that for Spanish speakers (about 560 million worldwide according to the Cervantes Institute) it is rare to hear that there are languages ​​that have disappeared because no one has used them, however it must be admitted that there are many languages ​​that have been lost and they are still lost today, an example has been Latin, which has been considered extinct for hundreds of years.

There are several reasons that can make one language disappear , the most common is the derivation and transformation of the language for so long, which ends up becoming another. This is what happens with the so-called “classical lost languages” such as classical Greek and Sanskrit. Another quite common reason is the wars, invasions and colonizations that have been happening throughout history and that have especially affected continents such as America and Africa.

It is important to highlight that natural disasters or diseases capable of dragging with populations also end up with language and culture. Thus, for example, there is the case of arazá or aruá, the language spoken in Brazil in a tributary of the Amazon River, which disappeared due to a measles epidemic that killed the entire population in 1877.

Records show that the only ones that have remained are the British words that were able to remain, through a British explorer .

The so-called ” cultural prestige ” has been the most important mechanism of disappearance of the last century’s languages. When a foreign language gains prestige, and the cultural or economic elite begins to use it, what it does is break the native language. Thus, progressively, the learning and use of these languages ​​will be implemented in the children and in the population centers towards the peripheries, causing the native languages ​​to be left aside. Unfortunately this is what has been happening with the native languages ​​of all America, which have been replaced by English, Spanish, French and European languages.

In this same context, Mexico is a country that has a linguistic diversity . In the country 11 linguistic families coexist from which 68 languages ​​are derived, which in turn branch into 364 variants. It should be added that most of them live under the threat of extinction. Only seven million indigenous people (40%) cultivate their languages, and mostly do so in only six languages ​​(Nahuatl, Mayan Yucatecan, Mixtec, Tzeltal, Zapotec and Tsotsil).

The National Institute of Indigenous Languages has concluded that 259 of the 364 language variants are at risk of disappearance. And where in most cases, their salvation is almost impossible, since 64 have less than a hundred speakers.

Linguistic Levels

Linguistic levels determined that the phonetic level is a change that favored the modification of internal factors such as the articulation of words , in addition to the epithesis or elision of sounds. It has also been mentioned that languages ​​can be changed by external factors such as the influence of the linguistic substrate, for example, in the mother tongue. Although, in general, that is not synonymous with creation.

Within the linguistic levels can be mentioned:


It is the linguistic level that is responsible for issuing each of the phonemes corresponding to each language, organizing them to achieve word formation, phonetic sets are variable and is associated with different factors such as: time, space, attitude of inhabitants, sociocultural level.


It is the one that is in charge of studying how the word is structured , delimiting them, classifying and defining them, in turn, the morphology is classified in flexible morphology that gives rise to the word and the lexical morphology that is responsible for providing the resources for the study of the words that contain other languages ​​and thus extract or form new verbs.


It refers to all the words contained in languages, which change languages ​​and in some cases also their meaning. The lexicon is made up of words, but the meaning of each of them is usually old and not so recognized.


It is responsible for studying the linguistic units of words to achieve coherent sentences, the syntactic level has a particular characteristic called recursive, which is what allows syntactic structures to fit into others.

It is important to mention that phonetics is the branch of linguistics that studies the production and perception of the sounds of a language in its physical manifestations.

Within the phonetics there are several branches among which are: articulatory phonetics, acoustic phonetics, phonetics and experimental phonetics.

The latter (experimental phonetics) is responsible for studying the various oral sounds from a physical point of view, collecting and quantifying data about the emission and production of the development of sound waves (responsible for configuring the articulated sound ). The set of the analyzed data tailored to the sounds depends on the accuracy of the instrumental information as well as other related knowledge. The important differences in each oral sound have also been discovered.

Articulatory phonetics for its part, is the one that studied the sounds of a language from the physiological point of view , that is, it describes which oral organs are involved in its production, in which it is found and how it is made. When it is sold by mouth, nose, or throat, so that different sounds are produced.

The movable lips, the jaw, the tongue and the vocal cords are part of the articulating organsthat allow the language to develop. Through these, the human being allows the process of air in the lungs. They are the teeth, the alveoli, the palate and the veil of the palate. The sounds are produced when two articulatory organs are contacted, for example, the bilabial (p), which requires contact between the two lips.

Similarly, the Phonemic is presented, which is the study of the sounds in the discourse, that is, of the sources that are the minimum distinctive units. For example, between the words the and the only one there is a difference of meaning and form that is the one that represents the distinction between the phonemes [a] and [o]. The same happens between shovel, for, pay, corduroy and pass, the differences of meaning are supported by the different forms that distinguish, that is, [l], [r], [g], [n] and [s]. The phonemes are also configured by minimum units that differ from each other and are the distinctive features themselves.

Finally there is the acoustic phonetics , who is the one that studies the sound wave as the output of any resonator; That is, equip the phonation system with any other sound emission and reproduction system. There is a greater interest in the articulation or production of the sounds, thanks to the sound waves since it receives and decodes the information even though it has been emitted by means of an oral joint or by means of a certain emitting apparatus of sounds or even through a parrot . The spectrograph can be used to record the most significant characteristics of the sound waves and to determine the result of the different articulating activities. Experimentally, in order to reach a knowledge in turn.

Types of Linguistics

Linguistics presents a wide range of disciplines with fields always in constant evolution . Below are the different types of linguistics that exist:

Theoretical linguistics

Theoretical linguistics is responsible for creating patterns that explain the functioning of the language, that is, what are the elements that compose it or how is its structure.

Theoretical linguists deal with the scientific structure of language, including grammar, syntax, morphology and semantics. They tend to explain the language according to several theoretical rules .

Synchronous linguistics

Synchronic linguistics studies the language at a given time, leaving aside the evolutionary part of its history.

When analyzing the linguistic phenomenon in depth, it becomes clear that the language is the first current place, organized, structured and more or less fixed and at the same time, a living instrument , a birth and an evolution, whatever it is, implies a series of problems impossible to study as the systematization of linguistics.

Linguistic micro

It is a study of the morphological aspects of language from a qualitative point of view . Understand the formal and schematic structure of a text: it is who gives meaning to the written text


This is the study of natural languages ​​that includes a number of factors that have contributed to its development, for example pragmatics, semantics and sociolinguistics, it was also included.