Linguistics (then and now) Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Is linguistics is a science?  Is linguistics is a science?  

Expert Answers info

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write5,917 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Linguistics represents, in part, a scientific analysis of sound and sound making in the study of phonetics. Sounds are now recorded and measured on sensitive equipment to determine precisely their vibrational and intonational ranges. These ranges are compiled and quantified within dialects and languages then compared across dialects and languages to yield precise quantifiable knowledge about phonetic sound production. Further, occurrences of sounds, words, and phrases within sociolinguistic groups are counted and statistically analyzed to quantitatively determine individual and cultural speech patterns and changes over time and across contiguous geographic zones. Linguistics is a science that has many branches and applications. These are just some examples of the quantifying nature of the science of linguistics.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

One aspect of linguistics is a social science.  While the social sciences often struggle for recognition and prestige given to other sciences, this does not mean linguistics is not important.  By studying how people use language, we learn about ourselves.  Linguistics has many uses, including understanding and describing human behavior and in teaching.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

Overall, I would say that linguistics is not a "hard science."  This is because there are many subfields within linguistics, some of which are really not particularly scientific or objective.  Because of this, the field as a whole cannot really be a science.

Some aspects of linguistics are scientific.  Linguists break languages and words down into various kinds of sounds.  They categorize these sounds by where and how they are made in the mouth.  This is factual stuff that can be proven or disproven and it is, therefore, scientific.

However, there are other fields of linguistics that are not scientific.  To take one example, there are debates in the field as to whether different languages promote different ways of thinking about the world in those that speak them.  This is not something that can really be quantified and tested scientifically yet.  There are many areas of linguistics like this.

If a field as a whole has subfields that are not scientific, I do not think the field as a whole can truly be a science.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

charu-selotkar | Student

Yes, Linguitics is a science of language. Linguistics has been called the scientific study of language. It does not study any particular language, but identifies and establishes the principles and rules , features and processes that are universal, and can be applied for  understanding all languages.Linguistics has many branches like phonology,phonotics,syntax,morphology...etc.

micpie94 | Student

It really depends on which way you are looking at it. If it is from a  general perspective, then I would have to say it is an art. If you are digging in depth, then it would be, in a sense, a form of a science. But linguistics is not a study of chemical compositions, rather, it is one of language.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial