Linguistics is a field of study that seeks to describe and explain the human faculty of language. Exploring questions pertaining to the universality and differences amongst languages and how people learn them, linguistics is generally considered to be the science of language. As a discipline, linguistics can be broken into three more specific subfields: language form (grammar), language meaning (semantics) and language in context (evolutionary). Because of its relevance to social structures and its systematic arrangement, linguistics informs numerous interrelated scholastic disciplines such as literature, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, computer science and informatics. Some famous linguists include Ferdinand de Saussure, known for his Structuralist innovations in the field, and Noam Chomsky, who was a Generativist.
Check out an outline of the history of linguistics from antiquity to current day.
Read about the history of linguistics with the Linguistic Society of America.
Read a brief history of twentieth-century linguistics with an emphasis on the contributions of scholars Saussure and Jakobson.
View a lecture by Noam Chomsky on the history of 50 years of linguistics at MIT.
Linguistic Organizations and Societies
The Linguistic Society of America endeavors to advance the scientific study of language by “supporting and disseminating linguistic scholarship both to professional linguists and to the general public.”
Visit the web page for the American Association for Applied Linguistics.
The Center for Applied Linguistics “is dedicated to providing a comprehensive range of research-based information, tools, and resources related to language and culture.”
The Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas promotes and encourages the study of the history of all branches of linguistic thought.
Visit the British Association for Applied Linguistics, which has roots in post-war Europe.
The Applied Linguistics Association of Australia is Australia’s national organization for applied linguistics. They endeavor to support the development of linguistic teaching, learning and research.
The Linguistic Society of New Zealand was founded with the goal of promoting and pursuing “the scientific description and study of the evolution and structure of languages.”
Check out the Linguistic Society of India, founded in Lahore in 1928.
The International Phonetic Association is the oldest international organization for phoneticians.
The International Linguistic Association was founded in New York and modeled after the Société de Linguistique de Paris.
Check out the Society for Linguistic Anthropology to learn about the ways in which language shapes social life.
Linguistics and Education is an international research journal that applies theories and methods from all areas of linguistics to the study of education.
Language & History is the journal of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas.
Access the Journal of the International Phonetic Association through Cambridge Journals online.
The Journal of Applied Linguistics aims to advance research and practice in the field.
Word is the journal of the International Linguistic Association and is published three times per year.
The Australian Review of Applied Linguistics “aims to promote the development of links between language related research and its application in education, professional, and other language related settings.”
Whatcom Museum Publications is “a series dedicated to the study of the Native languages and cultures of the Northwest.”
Anglia is a journal of English philology, founded in 1878, and is the oldest journal of English studies publishing essays on the English language and linguistic history.
Browse a selection of current studies in linguistics from MIT Press.
General Guides to Linguistics
Check out Linguistics 101: An Introduction to the Study of Language for a helpful overview of linguistics basics.
The Linguistic Data Consortium “supports language-related education, research and technology development by creating and sharing linguistic resources.”
Check out the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.
The Linguists is a teacher’s guide to endangered languages hosted by PBS.
The Modern Language Association Language Map uses data from the US Census 2000 to display the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and three groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States.
Access a selection of Ferdinand de Saussure’s lectures on general linguistics.