Major subfields and levels of linguistics

This post outlines the various subfields of linguistics, the study of language. These include phonology(phonetics), morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics and discourse.

These six subfields of the linguistics are useful to deepen your academic understanding and the root of language. The terms are not familiar with the majority of people, but are familiar with the person who study English language. However, being not familiar does not mean that you do not understand the contents. The point is that, in linguistics, everything is conceptualized in an acedemic way that makes it difficult for learners to understand the definitions. However, once examples are given, it becomes easy. For example, morphonogy is the study of words and others meaningful units of language, but in a simple way it talks about something like word formation (suffix, prefix, compound words etc).

Similarly, following subfields can be refered to simple terms:

Phonology the study of individual units of sound in languages, but in simple way, it is related to PRONUNCIATION.

Morphology is the study of words and other meaningful units of language, but in simple way, it is related to VOCABULARY (word formation)

Syntax is the study of sentences and phrases, and the rules of grammar that sentences obey, but in simple way, it is related to GRAMMAR.

Semantics, pragmatics, discourse is related to SPEAKING/WRITING.

Summary table

No.Subfields of linguisticsBasic descriptionSimple terms
1PHONOLOGY Âm vị họcPhonology the study of individual units of sound in languages.
· The production of speech sounds
· Phonemes/allophones and syllables
· Stress, pitch, tone, intonation, tune
Speech sounds
Intonation etc.
2MORPHONOGY Hình vị họcMorphology is the study of words and other meaningful units of language. · Morphemes, morphs · Basic word formation processesVOCABULARY WORDS
Word formation
Affix etc.
Syntax is the study of sentences and phrases, and the rules of grammar that sentences obey.
· Parts of speech: closed system items vs. open class items
· Types of phrases: NP, VP, Adj.P, Prep.P.
· Types of clauses: 4 criteria
· Types of sentences: 4 types
4SEMANTICS Ngữ nghĩa họcSemantics is the study of sentence meaning.
· Basic semantic relations: synonymy, antonymy, polysemy, homonymy, metaphor, metonymy
SPEAKING (listening) WRITING (reading) Literal meaning of phrases and sentences
5PRAGMATICS Ngữ dụng họcPragmatics is the study of sentence meaning in context.
· Presupposition
· Entailment
· Implicature
· Speech acts
SPEAKING (listening) WRITING (reading) Meaning in context of discourse
6DISCOURSE Diễn ngônIn linguistics, discourse refers to a unit of language longer than a single sentence or utterance and it is the language in use, in context.
· What is discourse analysis?
· Discourse vs text
· Sentence vs utterance
· Context vs co-text
· Coherence and cohesion
· Discourse structure
SPEAKING (listening) WRITING (reading) Include all subfields

Summary Diagram

Explanation of subfields

1) Phonetics, Phonology This is the level of sounds. One must distinguish here between the set of possible human sounds, which constitutes the area of phonetics proper, and the set of system sounds used in a given human language, which constitutes the area of phonology. Phonology is concerned with classifying the sounds of language and with saying how the subset used in a particular language is utilized, for instance what distinctions in meaning can be made on the basis of what sounds.

2) Morphology This is the level of words and endings, to put it in simplified terms. It is what one normally understands by grammar (along with syntax). The term morphology refers to the analysis of minimal forms in language which are, however, themselves comprised of sounds and which are used to construct words which have either a grammatical or a lexical function.

Lexicology is concerned with the study of the lexicon from a formal point of view and is thus closely linked to (derivational) morphology.

3) Syntax This is the level of sentences. It is concerned with the meanings of words in combination with each other to form phrases or sentences. In particular, it involves differences in meaning arrived at by changes in word order, the addition or subtraction of words from sentences or changes in the form of sentences. It furthermore deals with the relatedness of different sentence types and with the analysis of ambiguous sentences.

Language typology attempts to classify languages according to high-order principles of morphology and syntax and to make sets of generalizations across different languages irrespective of their genetic affiliations, i.e. of what language family they belong to.

4) Semantics This is the area of meaning. It might be thought that semantics is covered by the areas of morphology and syntax, but it is quickly seen that this level needs to be studied on its own to have a proper perspective on meaning in language. Here one touches, however, on practically every other level of language as well as there exists lexical, grammatical, sentence and utterance meaning.

5) Pragmatics The concern here is with the use of language in specific situations. The meaning of sentences need not be the same in an abstract form and in practical use. In the latter case one speaks of utterance meaning. The area of pragmatics relies strongly for its analyses on the notion of speech act which is concerned with the actual performance of language. This involves the notion of proposition – roughly the content of a sentence – and the intent and effect of an utterance.

Levels of linguistics

Source: by EnglishVlog.Com


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