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descriptive linguistics

In the study of language, description, or descriptive linguistics, is the work ofobjectively analyzing and
describing how language is spoken (or how it was spoken in the past) by a group of people in a speech community.
All scholarly research inlinguistics is descriptive; like all other sciences, its aim is to observe the linguistic world as
it is, without the bias of preconceived ideas about how it ought to be. Modern descriptive linguistics is based on a
structural approach to language, as exemplified in the work of Leonard Bloomfield and others. Descriptivism is
the belief that description is more significant or important to teach, study, and practice than prescription.

Linguistic description is often contrasted with linguistic prescription, which is found especially in education and in
publishing. Prescription seeks to define standard language forms and give advice on effective language use, and can
be thought of as a presentation of the fruits of descriptive research in a learnable form, though it also draws on
more subjective aspects of language aesthetics. Prescription and description are complementary, but have different
priorities and sometimes are seen to be in conflict.

Accurate description of real speech is a difficult problem, and linguists have often been reduced to approximations.
Almost all linguistic theory has its origin in practical problems of descriptive linguistics. Phonology (and its
theoretical developments, such as the phoneme) deals with the function and interpretation of sound in
language. Syntax has developed to describe the rules concerning how words relate to each other in order to form
sentences. Lexicology collects "words" and their derivations and transformations: it has not given rise to much
generalized theory.

An extreme "mentalist" viewpoint denies that the linguistic description of a language can be done by anyone but a
competent speaker. Such speakers have internalized something called "linguistic competence", which gives them
the ability to extrapolate correctly from their experience new but correct expressions, and to reject unacceptable
expressions.There are tens of thousands of linguistic descriptions of thousands of languages that were prepared by
people without adequate linguistic training. A linguistic description is considered descriptively adequate if it
achieves one or more of the following goals of descriptive linguistics:

comparative linguistics

comparative linguistics, formerly Comparative Grammar, or Comparative Philology, study of the

relationships or correspondences between two or more languages and the techniques used to discover whether
the languages have a common ancestor. Comparative grammar was the most important branch of linguistics in the
19th century in Europe. Also called comparative philology, the study was originally stimulated by the discovery by
Sir William Jones in 1786 that Sanskrit was related to Latin, Greek, and German.
An assumption important to the comparative method is the Neogrammarian principle that the laws governing
sound change are regular and have no exceptions that cannot be accounted for by some other regular phenomenon
of language. As an example of the method, English is seen to be related to Italian if a number of words that have the
same meaning and that have not been borrowed are compared: piede and foot, padre and father, pesce and
fish. The initial sounds, although different, correspond regularly according to the pattern discovered by Jacob
Grimm and named Grimms lawafter him; the other differences can be explained by other regular sound changes.
Because regular correspondences between English and Italian are far too numerous to be coincidental, it becomes
apparent that English and Italian stem from the same parent language. The comparative method was developed
and used successfully in the 19th century to reconstruct this parent language, Proto-Indo-European, and has since
been applied to the study of other language families.

historical linguistics, also called Diachronic Linguistics, the branch of linguistics concerned with the study of
phonological, grammatical, and semantic changes, the reconstruction of earlier stages of languages, and the
discovery and application of the methods by which genetic relationships among languages can be demonstrated.
Historical linguistics had its roots in the etymological speculations of classical and medieval times, in the
comparative study of Greek and Latin developed during the Renaissance, and in the speculations of scholars as to
the language from which the other languages of the world were descended. It was only in the 19th century,
however, that more scientific methods of language comparison and sufficient data on the early Indo-European
languages combined to establish the principles now used by historical linguists. The theories of
the Neogrammarians, a group of German historical linguists and classical scholars who first gained prominence in
the 1870s, were especially important because of the rigorous manner in which they
formulated soundcorrespondences in the Indo-European languages. In the 20th century, historical linguists have
successfully extended the application of the theories and methods of the 19th century to the classification and
historical study of non-Indo-European languages. Historical linguistics, when contrasted with synchronic
linguistics, the study of a language at a particular point in time, is often called diachronic linguistics.


Anthropology is the study of humans in all places and at all times. The term itself comes from the Greek
(anthropos=man, logos=the study of). Both literate and non-literate peoples are of interest to anthropologists. The
field includes many aspects of sociology; however, anthropology reaches much more deeply into prehistory, the
humanities, and the physical sciences. Anthropologists study modern humans and their direct ancestors whom we
will refer to as hominids.

Anthropology is a recent discipline originating a little more than a hundred years ago. The first course in the field
was offered at the University of Rochester (New York) in 1879.

Modern anthropology has its roots in the European expansion and colonization of the New World. The appearance,
beliefs, and customs of the Indigenous peoples in the Americas excited European intellectuals in the Age of
Discovery. Reports of the 'savages' challenged the thinkers of the Enlightenment to formulate rudimentary theories
about what distinguishes humans from the animals. The contact with native peoples forced examination of the very
issue of what it means to be human. It took a papal bull in 1537 to declare that "the Indians are truly men."

This course is an introduction to the field of Anthropology. As a broad and diverse discipline, Anthropology aims to
construct a holistic understanding of the human species by integrating research on the cultural, biological,
evolutionary, linguistic and historical aspects of our kind. Anthropologys array of subdisciplines contributes to
this in different ways. Biological Anthropology aims to understand the origin and evolution of our species using
fossils, material remains (stone tools), and genetics. By studying monkeys and apes, primatologists contribute
both insights into the life ways of our ancestors, and important perspectives on those aspects of our bodies and
minds that make our species such a unique part of nature. Archaeologists trace our ancient history by studying the
spread of humans across the globe and the emergence of agriculture, complex societies, and civilizations.
Sociocultural and linguistic anthropologists
study living cultures and languages close up, usually by living as a member of a particular human community. In
the process they document in detail the incredible diversity of human life ways, modes of thought, beliefs and
languages. By focusing on diversity, this works lays a foundation for understanding the universal underpinning of
our societies, cultures, and languages.

Anthropology is the scientific study of the origin, the behaviour, and the physical, social, and cultural development
of humans. Anthropologists seek to understand what makes us human by studying human ancestors through
archaeological excavation and by observing living cultures throughout the world. In this chapter, you will learn
about different fields of anthropology and the major schools of thought, important theories, perspectives, and
research within anthropology, as well as the work of influential anthropologists. Youll also learn methods for
conducting anthropological research and learn how to formulate your own research questions and record