Portal:Linguistics

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For a topical guide of this subject, see Outline of linguistics

Welcome to the Linguistics Portal!

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. As linguistics is concerned with both the cognitive and social aspects of language, it is considered a scientific field as well as an academic discipline; it has been classified as a social science, natural science, cognitive science, or part of the humanities.

Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to phenomena found in human linguistic systems, such as syntax (rules governing the structure of sentences); semantics (meaning); morphology (structure of words); phonetics (speech sounds and equivalent gestures in sign languages); phonology (the abstract sound system of a particular language); and pragmatics (how social context contributes to meaning). Subdisciplines such as biolinguistics (the study of the biological variables and evolution of language) and psycholinguistics (the study of psychological factors in human language) bridge many of these divisions.

Linguistics encompasses many branches and subfields that span both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretical linguistics (including traditional descriptive linguistics) is concerned with understanding the fundamental nature of language and developing a general theoretical framework for describing it. Applied linguistics seeks to utilise the scientific findings of the study of language for practical purposes, such as developing methods of improving language education and literacy.

Linguistic phenomena may be studied through a variety of perspectives: synchronically (describing a language at a specific point of time) or diachronically (through historical development); in monolinguals or multilinguals; children or adults; as they are learned or already acquired; as abstract objects or cognitive structures; through texts or oral elicitation; and through mechanical data collection versus fieldwork. (Full article...)

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The four tones of guo in Gwoyeu Romatzyh

Gwoyeu Romatzyh (GR) is a system for writing Chinese in the Latin alphabet. It was developed in the 1920s by a group of linguists led by Y.R. Chao, and is unique in its use of "tonal spelling" to indicate the four tones of Mandarin. Tones are a fundamental part of the Chinese language: using the wrong tone sounds as puzzling as if one said bud in English when one means bed or bad. Unlike other systems, which indicate tones with accents or numbers, GR modifies the spelling of the syllable: the four tones of guo, for example, are illustrated (the second tone gwo, meaning "nation", occurs in Gwoyeu). Some teachers believe that these distinctive spellings may help foreign students remember the tones. In 1928 China adopted GR as the nation's official romanization system. Although GR was mainly used in dictionaries, its proponents hoped one day to establish it as a writing system for a reformed Chinese script. But despite support from trained linguists in China and overseas, GR met with public indifference and even hostility due to its complexity. Eventually GR lost ground to Pinyin and other later romanization systems. However, its influence is still evident, as several of the principles introduced by its creators have been used in romanization systems that followed it. (more...)

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The number 605 in Khmer Numerals


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