:: Linguistics :: 22.12.05

Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

The Relationship between Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

It has been noticed that language is central to human experience. Using it, human beings can communicate each other within and across society , maintain effective social relations, develop cognitive faculties, and make explicit thoughts. It is the nature of language that make all of these possible. Nature of language is the formal or grammatical structure of language as an autonomous system of signs; moreover, it is the subject of theoretical linguistics.

Applied linguistics (AL) is the utilization of knowledge about the nature of language achieved by linguistic research for the improvement of the efficiency of some practical task in which language is the central component. The goal of applied linguistics is actually to provide a coherent conceptual basis for the analysis and solution of language related problems. However, there is no single unified body of applied linguistics that is relevant to all areas of applied linguistics. It means that actual scope tends to appear lesser than the potential scope.

In order to understand the nature of applied linguistics, it is necessary to know the relationship between applied linguistics and linguistic theory, for example in language teaching in considering to the ‘Structuralist’,‘Ganerative’ and the ‘Communicative’ approaches.

Structuralist approach is a kind of behaviourism. It is the description of conciousness, objective observation, and a conditioned learning in which stimulus-respone- reward is needed. In this approach, learning is as a habit formation (drilling), and it uses the methodology of taxonomic or descriptive. It also emphasis on system of sounds and the grammatical structure, but ignores the meaning because it is not descriptive, so it is out of linguistics. The units are contrastive, like [sheep-ship], as well as hierarchical nature of language, like [constitute and constituents]. Theory of teaching in this approach is like ASTP (Army Specialized Teaching Program) proposed by Bloomfield, Contrastive Analysis i.e. compare and contrast idealized linguistics units of phonetics and phonology, and examine the potential areas of difficulty identified that can be strengthened through drilling, and Error Analysis (Svartik, 1973) i.e. compare learners’ ability in phonetics with his phonology, as well as describe and explain error (omission, insertion, and substitutions). Thus, the structuralist approach focuses on mastery over grammatical structure and 4 language skills, listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and learners in this approach are passive recipient.

In generative approach, language eternally is a phenomena of recurring. It is the human specific internalized mental competence. This approach emphasis on the child's capacity to hypothesize about structure of language as a set of parameters for input-output, or finite rules in infinite generation. Learning process in this approach is cognitive in nature, based on the theory of language acquisition. 'Errors' are hypotheses made by learners and are not mistakes. This is an interlanguage system or transitional system where rules of introduction to linguistics and phonetics neither apply. It is also called as 'Approach Mentalistic' or the method of natural language. Learners in this method are active responser.(Krashen: 1983)

Meanwhile, communicative approach (sociolinguistic approach) assumes language as a means of communication. It deals with the understanding of what language is and what language does in considering language as in speech community or language in use. It also deals with the maximal unit of description or speech event i.e. stating, agreeing, persuading, thanking, apologizing, etc. The centrality of function of this is language as a whole, and rule of orientation is subordinate to role orientation (intrinsic grammar + extrinsic functions, e.gg language and dialect). The primacy of function is asymmetrical relationship (same form-different function, same function-different form). In this appoach, the communicative competence is 'heterogeneous'. In language teaching or learning, aims to cater is to the needs of the learners. In practice, the focus are on materials, activities, and tasks. Dialogue is as the basis of this also.

Some references:

Allen, J.P.B, Corder, P & Davies, A. 1973-77 Edinburgh Course in Applied Linguistics. OUP.

Bloomfield, L. 1942. An Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Language.

Gargesh, R. 2005 Applied Linguistics in South Asia. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. Elvier.


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