An Introduction to Applied Linguistics

Technology is the collective term for a number of methods, practices, and skills utilized in the creation of goods or services, including scientific research, industrial development, or the achievement of specific goals, like scientific discovery. Technological change is also a broad category that encompasses applied sciences that utilize technology in their study. These fields include computer science, electrical and computer engineering, information science, engineering, computer software, and numerous others. Technological change is inevitable; advancing technology is an unstoppable force in our modern world, but changing to take advantage of new opportunities should be a freely voluntary process.

The term technology has various common uses. In applied science it refers to a body of knowledge with a particular focus that a specific physical or logical property is achieved, such as the observation that light is colorless. In technology this term is used to refer to the actual processes and materials used in a given process. It can also refer to the social and cultural conditions that produce the actual processes, and even the social and political conditions that support technological change.

Applied linguistics is an example of a theoretical scientific discipline that falls under the broader field of technological analysis. The field is premised on the assumption that language is a material means by which communication occurs. Therefore, it makes sense to consider the properties of language, their grammatical structure, and their distribution as a system, and to think about the relationship between these aspects of language and other technological systems. Applied linguistics can be seen as a cultural approach to language; it is concerned with the way languages are used socially and culturally, and the cultural practices that produce their use. This approach differs from the more narrow technical approach of a descriptive grammar.

The analysis of technology in this broad perspective thus becomes an analytical category separate from the larger field of structural linguistics. Applied linguistics bears a resemblance to linguistics in many ways, including the fact that both use grammar as a part of the methodology. However, it differs in several important respects, including its focus upon the social and linguistic patterns of technological objects and systems, the focus upon technological operations and their effects upon society, and its assumption that language serves a social function, determining the meaning of communications in particular social contexts. Applied linguistics thus emerges as a theoretical science of society and culture, rather than being solely a descriptive science.

Applied linguistics as a scientific discipline has become extremely influential since the publication of its first volume, which was published in German in 1963. This pioneering volume established the basis for all further work done by the author and his colleagues. The first decade of the twentieth century saw the rise of numerous linguists and scholars who focused primarily on the description and explanation of language phenomena. A very important early influence was the work of linguists like Friedrich Schleimer who worked towards developing a science of terminology and grammatical categorization. J.M. Rushton and Bernard J. Heard are other great linguists who also developed important frameworks based on linguistics.

Applied linguistics is a very broad field that includes such disciplines as anthropology, sociology, communication science, and technology, just to name a few. The breadth of the subject is one of the reasons why Applied linguistics has acquired an air of academic detachment, even though the main focus of the subject is actually to produce a description and analysis of language phenomena. Studying this vast body of data has enabled linguists to produce a number of theoretical descriptions and even test these theories using empirical methods and methodology.