Linguistics Education – Theoretical Linguistics

Theoretical linguistics is a branch or division of linguistic education and its prime concern and motto is to develop models of linguistic knowledge. Furthermore, there are a few subdivisions of this subject, however, the core pillars of theoretical linguistics are phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax. Although phonetics is a part of phonology but it is often exclusive of the perimeter of this area of study as it is the case with psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. Another dimension to theoretical linguistics is the constant search for linguistic universals among all different languages.

A vivid idea of all the four sub-branches is discussed here for your better understanding of theoretical linguistics.

Phonology – By the sound of it, you can well gauge that it’s the study of phonetics. Well, phonology is categorized into two parts namely phonetics and phonemics. This is the study of linguistic sounds that is the sound of the language in concern when spoken. Phonetics can be further categorized into three different kinds those are acoustic phonetics, articulatory phonetics and auditory phonetics. Acoustic phonetics deal with the study of the physical properties of the speech sounds in their exactness. Auditory phonetics is just the complementary part of acoustic phonetics which completes the process of conversation in a language and that is hearing. It is the study of the perception of the speech sounds. Articulatory phonetics is the study of how speech sounds are generated. Altogether, these three subfields of phonetics deal with the total process of speech and perception of it and also the properties sound, frequency spectrum and the interrelationship of these branches.
Phonemics on the other hand studies the utilization of these sounds. It is the study of linguistic sounds and their arrangement and separation (pauses) which gives meaning to the language.

Morphology – this is a very interesting part of theoretical linguistics and deals with the study of language structuring i.e. the structure of words and phrases. It focuses on the affixes of a language on the basis of which you can distinguish one language from another. It can be said that it is the study of semantic significance of even the smallest unit of a language. A unit of morphology is called a morpheme and their application and implication varies with languages. There can be three different ways of applying them, viz. analytical, agglutinative and fusional which are categorized on the basis of the usage of morphemes.

Semantics – A simple explanation of this sub-branch would be to say that this is the study of the meaning of the words used in the language. It is also a study of expression and how language aids in exhibiting human expressions. Linguistic philosophy is applied here to comprehend words and phrases of the language in concern.

Syntax – This part is about the grammatical structure of a language. It is the study of linguistic structure and phrasal hierarchies which makes the language correct and reflects the exactly intended meaning behind the usage of those words and phrases and eventually sentences. It also involves the study of the interrelations among the different words of the language. The syntactic design of a language follows a scientific pattern and can be described mathematically.

Thus, theoretical linguistics is an important and significant subfield of linguistic education.