What Is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the study of language — not so much a specific language, but of the system of language and the way in which humans communicate. Topics integral to linguistics include the physiology of language (the ways in which humans produce and perceive language), its physical properties (the nature of speech sounds), the roles that it plays in determining cultural and social categories, the relationship between language and thought, the underlying manner in which sentences are structured (syntax), the way language conveys meaning (semantics), and the manner in which other systems may imitate natural languages (such as artificial intelligence).
Thus linguistics examines a broad range of phenomena from such disciplines as psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, sociology, literary theory, neuroscience, computer science, philosphy, and both modern and ancient languages. Problems studied by linguists range from the history and relationship of languages to the nature of metaphor and the adequacy of artificial language to convey human thought. As is evident from this handful of examples, linguistics is both an independent discipline and an important area of specialization.