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What Is Linguistics?

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  • September 2011
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"When language dies, a way of understanding the world dies with it, a way of looking at the world." Quoted by George Steiner, this passage reflects the importance and necessity of language and linguistics. Yet what is linguistics one may ask? Through this essay I will be breaking down its structural form and expanding on the three main key elements, being morphology, syntax and semantics.

Linguistics, being the scientific study of language concerns itself with describing and explaining the nature of human language. It comprises of sound structure and grammar to create conscious and unconscious words, all changing by geographical location. All humans achieve competence in whichever language is used around them when growing up. Linguists believe that the ability to quire and use language in this way is an innate, biologically based potential, similar to the ability to walk. For example, a person raised in Thailand is bound to know the linguistic basics to Thai.

Morphology, driven from the latin word morphelo is the study of the internal structure of words. It identifies, analyses and helps describe the structure of morphemes and other units of meaning in language such as words, affixes or implied context. For example, the smallest word structure in the word "walked" is "walk." Within morphology, there are five properties on language in reflection of free morpheme and bound morpheme. They include creativity, arbitrariness, discreteness, mutability and inaccessibility.

How do words change by adding and subtracting letters? Morphology consists of fourteen theories of language. The first one is affixation. This is an attachment to the stem of a word to form a new word. They can be either derivational, for example adding "pre" or "ness" and inflectional, like plural by adding "s" or "ed." Some examples include prefix, such as "un-do" and suffix, like "looking"

The second theory is compound. This is a lexeme that formates more than one word from its stem. It...

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