Chronology of the universe as deduced by the prevailing Big Bang theory, a result from science and obtained knowledge

Scientific study of human language.

- Linguistics

500 related topics



Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses".

A cognitive model, as illustrated by Robert Fludd (1619)
When the mind makes a generalization such as the concept of tree, it extracts similarities from numerous examples; the simplification enables higher-level thinking (abstract thinking).

Cognitive processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics, musicology, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, education, philosophy, anthropology, biology, systemics, logic, and computer science.

Applied linguistics

Interdisciplinary field which identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems.

Young children in a kindergarten in Japan

Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, psychology, communication research, information science, natural language processing, anthropology, and sociology.


Study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects.

Wilhelm Wundt (seated) with colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind.

Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, and information science to study how the mind-brain processes language, and less so the known processes of social sciences, human development, communication theories, and infant development, among others.

Theoretical linguistics

Term in linguistics which, like the related term general linguistics, can be understood in different ways.

Example of a syntactic tree

Both can be taken as a reference to theory of language, or the branch of linguistics which inquires into the nature of language and seeks to answer fundamental questions as to what language is, or what the common ground of all languages is.


Structured system of communication.

A conversation in American Sign Language
William Jones discovered the family relation between Latin and Sanskrit, laying the ground for the discipline of historical linguistics.
Ferdinand de Saussure developed the structuralist approach to studying language.
Noam Chomsky is one of the most important linguistic theorists of the 20th century.
Language Areas of the brain. The Angular Gyrus is represented in orange, Supramarginal Gyrus is represented in yellow, Broca's area is represented in blue, Wernicke's area is represented in green, and the Primary Auditory Cortex is represented in pink.
Ancient Tamil inscription at Thanjavur
In addition to word classes, a sentence can be analyzed in terms of grammatical functions: "The cat" is the subject of the phrase, "on the mat" is a locative phrase, and "sat" is the core of the predicate.
Wall of Love on Montmartre in Paris: "I love you" in 250 languages, by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and artist Claire Kito (2000)
A lesson at Kituwah Academy, a school where English and the Cherokee language are mediums of instruction
Arnold Lakhovsky, The Conversation (c. 1935)
An inscription of Swampy Cree using Canadian Aboriginal syllabics, an abugida developed by Christian missionaries for Indigenous Canadian languages
The first page of the poem Beowulf, written in Old English in the early medieval period (800–1100 AD). Although Old English is the direct ancestor of modern English, it is unintelligible to contemporary English speakers.
Multi-lingual sign outside the mayor's office in Novi Sad, written in the four official languages of the city: Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, and Pannonian Rusyn
Principal language families of the world (and in some cases geographic groups of families). For greater detail, see Distribution of languages in the world.
Together, the eight countries in red contain more than 50% of the world's languages. The areas in blue are the most linguistically diverse in the world, and the locations of most of the world's endangered languages.

The scientific study of language is called linguistics.

Historical linguistics

Scientific study of language change over time.

Classification of Indo-European languages. Red: Extinct languages. White: categories or unattested proto-languages. Left half: centum languages; right half: satem languages

Western modern historical linguistics dates from the late-18th century.


Study of lexicons, and is divided into two separate but equally important academic disciplines:

A conversation in American Sign Language

Some use "lexicology" as a synonym for theoretical lexicography; others use it to mean a branch of linguistics pertaining to the inventory of words in a particular language.


Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in written form in some specific context of use.

Adult literacy rates, 2015 or most recent observation
World illiteracy has halved between 1970 and 2015
Literate and illiterate world population between 1800 and 2016
Illiteracy rate in France in the 18th and 19th centuries
Bill of sale of a male slave and a building in Shuruppak, Sumerian tablet, circa 2600 BC
Adult literacy rates have increased at a constant pace since 1950.
Literacy has rapidly spread in several regions over the last twenty-five years.
Adult literacy rate, male (%), 2015
Adult literacy rate, female (%), 2015
Gender parity indices in youth literacy rates by region, 1990–2015. Progress towards gender parity in literacy started after 1990.
Youth and adult literacy rate, 2000–2016 and projections to 2030
Students in grade 2 who can't read a single word
Brain areas involved in literacy acquisition
Sample milestone sketch
Reviewing photos after photowalk
Integrating Common Core content into language training with MELL
Including orality
Sample covers of completed authorship created books
Most illiterate persons now live in Southern Asia or sub-Saharan Africa.
Dutch schoolmaster and children, 1662
One-room school in Alabama c. 1935
Native youth in front of Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania c. 1900
Young school girls in Paktia Province of Afghanistan
Three Laotian girls sit outside their school, each absorbed in reading a book they received at a rural school book party.
The University of Peradeniya's Sarachchandra open-air theatre, named in memory of Ediriweera Sarachchandra, Sri Lanka's premier playwright.

In addition, since the 1940s the term literacy is often used to mean having knowledge or skill in a particular field (e.g., computer literacy, statistical literacy, critical literacy, media literacy, ecological literacy, disaster literacy, health literacy, linguistic (i.e. language) literacy social literacy, quantitative literacy (numeracy) and visual literacy, e.g. body language, pictures, maps, and video ).


Systematic study of sign processes (semiosis) and meaning making.

Color-coding hot- and cold-water faucets (taps) is common in many cultures but, as this example shows, the coding may be rendered meaningless because of context. The two faucets (taps) probably were sold as a coded set, but the code is unusable (and ignored), as there is a single water supply.
Signaling and communication between the Astatotilapia burtoni
Chart semiotics of social networking

Unlike linguistics, semiotics also studies non-linguistic sign systems.

Generative grammar


Generative grammar, or generativism, is a linguistic theory that regards linguistics as the study of a hypothesised innate grammatical structure.