In studying English and Linguistics one is concerned with the scientific treatment of the English Language specifically, as a communication system comprised of specific historical, cultural, physiological, sonic and psychological elements consistent with related linguistic systems within the Indo-European family. With English and Linguistics, one consequently examines the formal properties of English: its morphology and phonology (the ordering of its structure and sounds); its syntax and semantics (its patterns and meaning); and pragmatics (the functional intention of a speech event). In addition, the history, evolution, and current manifestation of English as a socio-cultural entity and conceptual construct are important: this includes the more abstract, philosophical attributes of linguistic study, questions of the purpose of language, its relationship to its users, and its connection with reality. Thus English and Linguistics affords a very focused yet comprehensive approach to language studies, whereby a single language system is placed front and centre and considered in all its polychromatic complexity. Scoring top marks in English and Linguistics therefore necessitates a solid understanding of the theoretical and practical dimensions that surround the English language as a communication system; an ability to bridge practical research methods with abstract critical concepts in a consistent manner.
English Language and Linguistics, then, broadly compasses descriptive, historical, and comparative linguistics: synthesising the classification of language characteristics and historical factors, along with a concern for how language grows and develops. This allows for much critical scope. Hence one might be engaged in a millennia-spanning “archaeological” linguistic investigation, excavating the ancient roots of English in Germanic tongues imported by Anglo Saxon settlers in Antiquity: one might then analyse the morphological properties of this particular form of the language, which has come to be known as “Old English”, relating its formal patterns to contemporary analogues. In compiling such research, one might cite Old English texts as examples of contemporaneous usage, comparing them with modern-day equivalents, thus synthesising two, very distinct examples of one foundationally consistent language system. The point being not only to locate and delineate changes in the language but to account for them, to posit why such transformations occurred and, indeed, continue to happen today. Thus the English and Linguistics student is necessarily something of a historian and a scientist, a literary critic and cultural theorist. Luckily for the linguistics scholar, the English language has yielded a good deal of extant writings over the centuries, providing ample first-hand evidence of its many evolutionary phases. The wealth of the English literary Canon thus provides us with multiple source texts from which to extract data, with many excellent candidates for forensic linguistic analysis. In order to score top marks in English and Linguistics studies, one really needs to be able to see the English language from many different angles, as a scientific entity which may be dissected into component parts, a psychological and cognitive phenomenon, an evolutionary asset, a cultural fabrication, a social tool, and a functional means to a communicative end. The objective, if seeking first-class grades, is to bring these discrete elements together in new and insightful ways.
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