linguistics

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
lin·​guis·​tics | \ liŋ-ˈgwi-stiks How to pronounce linguistics (audio) \

Definition of linguistics

: the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language

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Did You Know?

Any analysis of language, including 8th-grade grammar, can be called linguistics. As recently as 200 years ago, ordinary grammar was about the only kind of linguistics there was. Today a linguist may be a person who learns foreign languages, but the term usually refers to people who devote themselves to analyzing the structure of language. Many linguists concentrate on the history of a language; others study the way children learn to speak; others analyze the sounds of a language—and still others just study English grammar, a subject so big that you could easily spend your entire life on it.

Examples of linguistics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Kelly Wright, a doctoral student of linguistics at the University of Michigan, used machine-learning to predict an athlete’s race based on words that appear in an article containing their name. The Economist, "Johnson Language is a telling clue to unacknowledged racial attitudes," 11 June 2020 Rachid Baligh of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Marrakesh, Morocco, 45, CEO and owner of Translingual Interpreting, an international linguistics consulting firm, on his 2015 Ural cT, as told to A.J. Baime. A.j. Baime, WSJ, "The Schnauzer Goes in the Sidecar," 2 June 2020 But his tour of Chomskyan linguistics is entertaining and accessible—in contrast to Mr Chomsky’s own notoriously baffling prose. The Economist, "A new book spells out the magic of language," 22 Aug. 2019 In 1990, the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala was formed, and a branching linguistics tree, showing the common origin of all Mayan languages, became a symbol of the Pan-Mayan movement. Rachel Nolan, The New Yorker, "A Translation Crisis at the Border," 30 Dec. 2019 Among his first employees was Will Leben, a linguistics professor at Stanford University who now oversees the firm’s in-house linguistics team and network of 90 linguist partners globally. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Swiffer. Blackberry. PowerBook. Meet the Bay Area man who named your favorite products," 7 Sep. 2019 Among his first employees was Will Leben, a linguistics professor at Stanford University who now oversees the firm's in-house linguistics team and network of 90 linguist partners globally. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "Swiffer. Blackberry. Dasani. Meet the man who named your favorite products," 6 Sep. 2019 They were inspired by Stephen Bax, a linguistics professor at the University of Bedfordshire who in 2014 published research claiming to have partially solved the language riddle using methods that deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. John Woolfolk, The Mercury News, "Voynich Manuscript: Did Bay Area researchers decipher mysterious medieval book?," 12 July 2019 John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at Columbia, argues the lack of gifted and talented programs in New York City elementary and middle schools is one reason why few minority students are admitted to the city’s top high schools. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "How young is too young to begin preparing for a career?," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'linguistics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of linguistics

circa 1837, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for linguistics

Time Traveler

The first known use of linguistics was circa 1837

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Statistics for linguistics

Last Updated

19 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Linguistics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/linguistics. Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for linguistics

linguistics

noun
How to pronounce linguistics (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of linguistics

: the study of language and of the way languages work

linguistics

noun
lin·​guis·​tics | \ liŋ-ˈgwis-tiks How to pronounce linguistics (audio) \

Kids Definition of linguistics

: the study of human speech including the nature, structure, and development of language or of a language or group of languages

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