This institution also works in the Middle East, and being Arabic an official language of many countries, it is necessary to have a body that coordinates the usage of correct terminology, as well as promoting the development of this language in different activities organised throughout the Arab world. But in the south of the continent we can find more institutions working on linguistics. The University of South Africa started a project in SeLa Scientific e-Lexicography for Africa , which aims to create electronic dictionaries for the region, involving teachers, students and experts in lexicography, computational linguistics and intercultural communication.
The creation of dictionaries in Africa is a hard task, as language used in oral literature usually differs from the spoken language Zgusta, Hyman says, the study of African languages has largely contributed to phonology theory, because of the particularities about tones, vowel harmony, and nasalization, among others.
Therefore, having a background in linguistics is an essential factor in order to effectively contribute to the promotion and saving such a quantity of languages, but also to the coordination of communication and management of terminology. This sentence seems to be perfect to summarize the linguistic African reality: one continent, many languages, which in fact can be applied to all the others continents in the world.
It is crucial to promote multilingualism and multiculturalism every day since the respect of any language is a fundamental right, as UNESCO establishes it in the Universal Declaration on Linguistic Rights. These sub-fields range from those focused primarily on form to those focused primarily on meaning. They also run the gamut of level of analysis of language, from individual sounds, to words, to phrases, up to cultural discourse. Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts for aspects of their linguistic and tonal style.
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Stylistic analysis entails the analysis of description of particular dialects and registers used by speech communities. Stylistic features include rhetoric ,  diction, stress, satire , irony , dialogue, and other forms of phonetic variations. Stylistic analysis can also include the study of language in canonical works of literature, popular fiction, news, advertisements, and other forms of communication in popular culture as well.
It is usually seen as a variation in communication that changes from speaker to speaker and community to community. In short, Stylistics is the interpretation of text. One major debate in linguistics concerns the very nature of language and how it should be understood. Some linguists hypothesize that there is a module in the human brain that allows people to undertake linguistic behaviour, which is part of the formalist approach.
This " universal grammar " is considered to guide children when they learn language and to constrain what sentences are considered grammatical in any human language. Proponents of this view, which is predominant in those schools of linguistics that are based on the generative theory of Noam Chomsky , do not necessarily consider that language evolved for communication in particular. They consider instead that it has more to do with the process of structuring human thought see also formal grammar. Another group of linguists, by contrast, use the term "language" to refer to a communication system that developed to support cooperative activity and extend cooperative networks.
Such theories of grammar , called "functional", view language as a tool that emerged and is adapted to the communicative needs of its users, and the role of cultural evolutionary processes are often emphasized over that of biological evolution. Linguistics is primarily descriptive.
This is analogous to practice in other sciences: a zoologist studies the animal kingdom without making subjective judgments on whether a particular species is "better" or "worse" than another.
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Prescription , on the other hand, is an attempt to promote particular linguistic usages over others, often favouring a particular dialect or " acrolect ". This may have the aim of establishing a linguistic standard , which can aid communication over large geographical areas. It may also, however, be an attempt by speakers of one language or dialect to exert influence over speakers of other languages or dialects see Linguistic imperialism. An extreme version of prescriptivism can be found among censors , who attempt to eradicate words and structures that they consider to be destructive to society.
Prescription, however, may be practised appropriately in language instruction , like in ELT , where certain fundamental grammatical rules and lexical items need to be introduced to a second-language speaker who is attempting to acquire the language. The objective of describing languages is often to uncover cultural knowledge about communities.
The use of anthropological methods of investigation on linguistic sources leads to the discovery of certain cultural traits among a speech community through its linguistic features.
It is also widely used as a tool in language documentation , with an endeavour to curate endangered languages. However, now, linguistic inquiry uses the anthropological method to understand cognitive, historical, sociolinguistic and historical processes that languages undergo as they change and evolve, as well as general anthropological inquiry uses the linguistic method to excavate into culture. In all aspects, anthropological inquiry usually uncovers the different variations and relativities that underlie the usage of language.
Most contemporary linguists work under the assumption that spoken data and signed data are more fundamental than written data. This is because. Nonetheless, linguists agree that the study of written language can be worthwhile and valuable. For research that relies on corpus linguistics and computational linguistics , written language is often much more convenient for processing large amounts of linguistic data. Large corpora of spoken language are difficult to create and hard to find, and are typically transcribed and written.
In addition, linguists have turned to text-based discourse occurring in various formats of computer-mediated communication as a viable site for linguistic inquiry.
The study of writing systems themselves, graphemics , is, in any case, considered a branch of linguistics. Before the 20th century, linguists analysed language on a diachronic plane, which was historical in focus. This meant that they would compare linguistic features and try to analyse language from the point of view of how it had changed between then and later.
However, with Saussurean linguistics in the 20th century, the focus shifted to a more synchronic approach, where the study was more geared towards analysis and comparison between different language variations, which existed at the same given point of time. At another level, the syntagmatic plane of linguistic analysis entails the comparison between the way words are sequenced, within the syntax of a sentence. For example, the article "the" is followed by a noun, because of the syntagmatic relation between the words.
The paradigmatic plane on the other hand, focuses on an analysis that is based on the paradigms or concepts that are embedded in a given text. In this case, words of the same type or class may be replaced in the text with each other to achieve the same conceptual understanding. Western interest in the study of languages began somewhat later than in the East,  but the grammarians of the classical languages did not use the same methods or reach the same conclusions as their contemporaries in the Indic world.
Early interest in language in the West was a part of philosophy, not of grammatical description. The first insights into semantic theory were made by Plato in his Cratylus dialogue , where he argues that words denote concepts that are eternal and exist in the world of ideas.
This work is the first to use the word etymology to describe the history of a word's meaning.
Around BC, one of Alexander the Great 's successors founded a university see Musaeum in Alexandria , where a school of philologists studied the ancient texts in and taught Greek to speakers of other languages. In the 18th century, the first use of the comparative method by William Jones sparked the rise of comparative linguistics.
The study of language was broadened from Indo-European to language in general by Wilhelm von Humboldt , of whom Bloomfield asserts: . Early in the 20th century, Saussure introduced the idea of language as a static system of interconnected units, defined through the oppositions between them. By introducing a distinction between diachronic and synchronic analyses of language, he laid the foundation of the modern discipline of linguistics.
Saussure also introduced several basic dimensions of linguistic analysis that are still foundational in many contemporary linguistic theories, such as the distinctions between syntagm and paradigm , and the langue-parole distinction , distinguishing language as an abstract system langue from language as a concrete manifestation of this system parole.
During the last half of the 20th century, following the work of Noam Chomsky , linguistics was dominated by the generativist school.
While formulated by Chomsky in part as a way to explain how human beings acquire language and the biological constraints on this acquisition, in practice it has largely been concerned with giving formal accounts of specific phenomena in natural languages. Generative theory is modularist and formalist in character. Chomsky built on earlier work of Zellig Harris to formulate the generative theory of language. According to this theory the most basic form of language is a set of syntactic rules universal for all humans and underlying the grammars of all human languages.
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This set of rules is called Universal Grammar , and for Chomsky describing it is the primary objective of the discipline of linguistics. For this reason the grammars of individual languages are of importance to linguistics only in so far as they allow us to discern the universal underlying rules from which the observable linguistic variability is generated. In the classic formalization of generative grammars first proposed by Noam Chomsky in the s,   a grammar G consists of the following components:.
A formal description of language attempts to replicate a speaker's knowledge of the rules of their language, and the aim is to produce a set of rules that is minimally sufficient to successfully model valid linguistic forms. Functional theories of language propose that since language is fundamentally a tool, it is reasonable to assume that its structures are best analysed and understood with reference to the functions they carry out.
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Functional theories of grammar differ from formal theories of grammar , in that the latter seek to define the different elements of language and describe the way they relate to each other as systems of formal rules or operations, whereas the former defines the functions performed by language and then relates these functions to the linguistic elements that carry them out. This means that functional theories of grammar tend to pay attention to the way language is actually used, and not just to the formal relations between linguistic elements.
Functional theories describe language in term of the functions existing at all levels of language. Cognitive linguistics emerged as a reaction to generativist theory in the s and s. Led by theorists like Ronald Langacker and George Lakoff , cognitive linguists propose that language is an emergent property of basic, general-purpose cognitive processes. In contrast to the generativist school of linguistics, cognitive linguistics is non-modularist and functionalist in character.
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