Linguistics is the scientific study of languages which includes the analysis of the form, the meaning and the context. In addition linguists include the social, cultural, historical and political factors which have an influence on language.
Three linguists and their quotes about language
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a linguist and semiotician from Switzerland whose ideas were very important for many significant developments (linguistics and semiology).
- “A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas.”
- “Everyone, left to his own devices, forms an idea about what goes on in language which is very far from the truth.”
- “The first of these phases is that of grammar, invented by the Greeks and carried on unchanged by the French. It never had any philosophical view of a language as such.”
Noam Chomsky is an American professor of linguistics. He is also known as the “father of modern linguistics” who is also the author of over 100 books.
- “Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”
- “If you go back a century in Europe, all over the place people were speaking different languages. There were dozens of languages in France and Italy, and they’re all called French [and Italian], but they were not mutually comprehensible. They were different languages. And they have mostly disappeared in the last century or so. Some are being preserved, like Welsh, some are being revived, like Basque or Catelan to some extent. There are plenty of people in Europe who can’t talk to their grandmother because they talk a different language.”
- “A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.”
David Crystal is a British linguist and author who studied English at University College London. He wrote a lot of books about languages and how to learn them.
- “There is no such thing as an ugly accent, like there’s no such thing as an ugly flower.”
- “The story of English spelling is the story of thousands of people – some well-known, most totally unknown – who left a permanent linguistic fingerprint on our orthography.”
- “Language itself changes slowly but the internet has speeded up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly.”
- “Spellings are made by people. Dictionaries – eventually – reflect popular choices.”
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