The Relationship of the Sub-Disciplines of Linguistics and the Past

Different sub-discipline of linguistics. Specific sub-disciplines related to the past. Relationship of linguistics and the past.

Who knows that linguistics is a very complex, but interesting field of study? I didn’t. It is funny when you stumble upon a new world that is so interesting you wonder why you didn’t discover it before.

Now, linguistics, as its name implies, is a field of study on languages. Since languages practically chronicle the evolution of human society – take for example, Latin. Therefore, naturally, linguistics includes the study of the past in answering one of its most fundamental questions – what is language? I digress, but Latin though a ‘dead’ language is the basis of several others. Without it, the development of these languages including the French and English would have taken longer and I bet, would be in a different form than that of today.

Specifically, several sub-disciplines of linguistics are relatively more concerned with the development of languages vis-à-vis the development of human society as chronicled in our history than the other sub-disciplines. These are:


This sub-discipline of linguistics studies the sound patterns of language. In other words it analyzes how sounds are organized to form a language. Since, the way we create sound patterns to form a language differ from one society to another, from one culture to another, phonology borrows heavily from history. This is why languages are classified according to the historic age they became apparent (e.g. modern vs. old English).


Out of the several sub-disciplines in linguistics, perhaps semantics has the most interesting relationship with the past. After all, semantics study meaning and meaning is partly shaped by our history.

Historical Linguistics

This sub-discipline studies changes in languages and the relationship of languages with one another. This means that historical linguistics study how the development of a language is affected by another.

Anthropological Linguistics

This sub-discipline looks at how language interacts with the culture of its people.

Our language is the product of our history. Sometimes it even affects historical development. Today, our languages reflect what is happening in our society – we are currently creating our contributions to language which in the future linguistics will have to study to answer “what is language?” We have created words and even a new language to reflect what we have developed in our society.

Lastly, in any field of study there will always be a reference to the past no matter how obscure that reference is. We have what we have as a result and consequence of our past we didn’t know, but in a future we can not see will be studied and analyzed for insights on languages and its relationship with the past.


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