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A Connection between Math and Linguistics

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Image:Universals.png


As stated on the Math and Language page, math is the universially understood language amongst the many different languages spoken in countries all around the world. Languages are a constantly changing phenomenon, as is math. The ability to understand the consistency and/or changes of patterns and a basic knowledge of arithmetic make linguists invaluable to today's society. Knowing the overall history of math and its matematicians as well as the creation of language as a the fundamental source of communication are some of the quintessential tools in the development of technology and a growing culture. 


Linguistics- the science and study of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and historical linguistics ("Linguistics"). 


Mathematics- the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, cominations, generalizations, and relationships between figures and forms, relationships between quantities expressed symbolically. Algebra, geometry, and calculus are some examples. Also applied in the many scientific fields ("Mathematics"). 


The Field of Linguistics There are many different types of study when it comes to linguistics. First off there is the study of language structure, or in other words grammar. This is how people are able to learn and understand different languages based on the grammatical patterns that are used to form sentences. The study of patterns is important in both linguistics and in math, thus it is understandable why they are both difficult concepts to understand. For example, English is known to be a hard language to learn because it has irregular verb tenses and unpredictable spellings, and these things can change as the overall language changes through time. Secondly, there is the study of language meaning, which is broken down into many subcatogories such as language anthopology, historical linguistics, language acquistion, etc. These fields of linguistics are used in science, pyschology, anthopology, and in of course, in math. Linguistics has been studied for centuries, but it wasn't until linguists like Noam Chomsky that the field of linguistics was later filtered into various other mathematical and scientific deciplines ("Noam Chomsky" ). Today the field of linguistics are used by computer scientists, engineers and by mathematicians that are interested in the nature of language processings. 


Mathematical Linguistics- comprised of two major fields: the study of statistical structure of texts and the construction of mathematical models of the phonological and grammatical structure of languages ("Mathematical Linguistics").


As stated before,
linguistics is the science of language; therefore, it can be argued that math is a language in its own. Language is a universal concept - no matter what the language is - because everybody uses language as a form of communication. This is the same with math. Math, like linguistics, can be broken down into many different subcatogories such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc. Algebra is one of the best examples of this because instead of using words, it uses symbols to convey an idea. Math and science are mediums used to understand how the world works, and linguistics is not different. I propose that forming a sentence is like forming an equation. In basic SVO languages (Subject-Object-Verb), this is a very simple formula that can be understood by those who speak this type of language. The same can be said about SOV languages (Subject-Object-Verb), VSO languages (Verb-Subject-Object), etc. Once one knows the pattern, it is easy to understand the overall meaning of a language without even knowing the vocabulary, thus linguistics,  like math, is a universal concept. Math deals a lot with patterns, as does linguistics, so understanding patterns in VERY important. A linguist does not need to have deep understanding of the more complicated fields of math; a good linguist is educated enough in math to see a pattern in a language, and from there on, they are able to properly study and dissect the on-going patterns and changes that occur with languages everyday. These changes will continue as long as human beings have a conscience, have a yearning to understand the way the world works and are able to communicate though language and through math. 


References:

"Linguistics." Merriam-Webster. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <<http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/linguistics>>.

"Mathematics." Merriam-Webster. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <<http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mathemcatics>>.

"Mathematical Linguistics." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Wed, 04 Apr. 2011. <<http://britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/369132/mathematical-linguistics>>.

"Noam Chomsky." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedica Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Wed, 04 Apr. 2011. <<http://britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/114218/Noam-Chomsky>>.

North, Ryan. "Dinosaur Comics." Cartoon. Dinosaur Comics. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <<http://qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1503>>.

S., Janie. "Funny Math Answers." Funny Math Answers. MathProjectPage. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <<http://mathprojectpage.wiki.lovett.org/Math+Comics>>.