What distinguishes human beings from animals is the ability to speak by using a highly sophisticated system of communication. This is referred to as ‘language’. In order to study language scientifically and systematically, we need to depend on linguistics. Linguistics can be defined as the systematic or scientific study of language. It can also be defined as “the study of language as a system of human communication.” (Richards et al, 1993: 215). Linguistics covers a wide range of topics starting from the widest (macro)to the narrowest (micro). A linguist isone who deals with or studies languages or linguistics.
Linguistics and linguists are concerned with raising and answering questions such as: What is language? How does language work? What do all languages have in common? How does human language differ from animal communication? Why do languages change?, etc. Linguists are concerned with observing, analyzing and explaining linguistic phenomena. They are objective observers of language and how it functions at different levels, they are not judges (Mansoor, 2014: 20).
As a science, similar to other sciences, linguistics looks at language issues in a way quite different from that of traditional grammar which has its origins from Latin and Greek. A basic issue in linguistic description and analysis is that linguistics is descriptive not prescriptive. It describes all aspects of language without imposing or laying rules of correctness. Linguists are observers and recorders not judges (ibid).
2. Review of Related Literature
Although studies of language phenomena have been carried out for hundreds of years, it is only recently that linguistics has been considered as an independent discipline. Linguistics now covers a wide field with different approaches and areas of investigation (Richards, 1993: 215). The term itself (linguistics) is a wide and rather fluid label that needs accurate description and categorization in terms of broader fields or branches and narrower subfields or subdivisions. The same thing can be said about the two terms macrolinguistics and microlinguistics which are not yet well established in that they are sometimes fluidly used in linguistic research. It is, therefore, vitally important, at the outset, to provide a clear-cut distinction between these two terms, and this is the main concern of this paper.
The term macrolinguistics was used by some linguists, especially in the 1950s, to identify an extremely broad conception of the subject of linguistic enquiry. In a macrolinguistic approach, linguistics is seen in its overall relation to phonetic and extralinguistic experience. According to them, it is divided into three main subfields: prelinguistics (whose primary subject-matter is phonetics), microlinguistics (whose primary subject-matter is phonology, morphology and syntax) and metalinguistics (whose subject-matter is the relationship between language and all extralinguistic features of communicative behaviour, e.g. including what would now be called sociolinguistics)(www.blackwellpublishing.com).
Macrolinguistics, as a general term, is defined as the branch of linguistics that deals with language and related extra-lingual phenomena as a whole (sometimes the statistical analysis of large-scale linguistic phenomena).Macrolinguistics is the study of language in relation to factors outside of the language; it is interdisciplinary study of language.Macrolinguistics tends to focus on language as broader, larger concepts and trends. Macrolinguists (linguists who are concerned with macrolinguitics) look at meaning, trends, and how language intersects with sociology and sociolinguistics (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com).At its broadest, macro-linguistics is concerned with everything that pertains in any way at all to language and languages (Lyons, 1981: 36).
Another important area within its scope of interest and investigation is the relationship between language and mind; and the way languages are acquired, stored in the brain and used for various functions; interdependence of language and culture; physiological and psychological mechanisms involved in language behaviour (sociolinguistics). Other areas of macrolinguistic studies include general linguistics, theoretical linguistics, historical linguistics, neurolinguistics, computational linguistics, applied linguistics and discourse analysis (all of which will be explained in the following section).
The term microlinguistics was first used by George L. Trager, in an article published in 1949 in ‘Studies in Linguistics: Occasional Papers’ (The Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). Microlinguistics is concerned with smaller, more specific elements of language. It is a branch of linguistics that concerns itself with the study of language systems in the abstract, without regard to the meaning or notional content of linguistic expressions (Mathew, 2002).It is the study of language from internal side of the language.
In micro-linguistics, one adopts the narrower view. It is mainly concerned with the structure of language systems, without regard to the way in which languages are acquired, stored in the brain or used in their various functions; without regard to the physiological and psychological mechanisms that are involved in language behaviour; in short without regard to anything other than the language system, considered in itself and for itself (Lyons, 1981: 36).
Microlinguists (linguists who are concerned with microlinguitics) are interested in studying a variety of issues which constitute the lower scale of language, such as syntax, morphology, phonetics, phonology, semantics, pragmatics and other subfields (to be mentioned in a subsequent section).
3. Domain of Macrolinguistics
Although linguists and researchers are not in much agreement about all the branches or fields that fall within the domain of macrolinguistics, the following are the main branches that the majority have agreed upon:
3.1 Theoretical (General) Linguistics
Theoretical linguistics, or general linguistics, is the branch of linguistics which inquires into the nature of language itself and seeks to answer fundamental questions as to what language is; how it works; how universal grammar (UG) as a domain-specific mental organ operates, what are its unique properties; how does language relate to other cognitive processes, etc. It isthe branch of linguistics which studies the theoretical bases for describing language and methods of investigating linguistic phenomena (Mansoor, 2014: 24).
Theoretical linguists are mostly concerned with constructing models of linguistic knowledge, and ultimately developing a linguistic theory. Theoretical linguistics also involves the search for an explanation of linguistic universals, that is, properties that all, or many languages have in common (Ottenheimer, 2006, cited in wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics 2018).
Theoretical linguistics can be subdivided into general and specific. General theoretical linguistics (frequently called general linguistics) tries to study and understand general characteristics of various languages. While specific theoretical linguistics attempts to study specific characteristics of certain language (Kentjono, 1990:11, cited inrepository.ut.ac.id).
Historical linguistics studies the history of specific languages as well as general characteristics of language change. The study of language change is also referred to as “diachronic linguistics” (the study of how one particular language has changed over time, i.e., historical development of language throughout time). This can be distinguished from “synchronic linguistics” (the study and analysis of language at a single period in time without regard to previous stages) (Mansoor, 2014: 25). Diachronic linguistics was among the first sub-disciplines to emerge in linguistics, and was the most widely practised form of linguistics in the late 19th century. However, there was a shift to the synchronic approach in the early twentieth century with Saussure, and became more predominant in western linguistics with the work of Noam Chomsky(wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics).
Sociolinguistics is the study of social patterns and norms of linguistic variability (Nasr, 1980).It is the study of language and society (how language isaffected by social factors, such as social class, type of education, religion, sex, age, ethnic origin, etc.) (Mansoor, 2014: 25).Matthews (2002) definessociolinguistics as the branch of linguistics which studies how language and meaning function within human social systems.
Sociolinguistics studies the relations between language and society; how social factors influence the structure and use of language. It seeks to find answers to questions like:How do languages change over time? How are they used by specific groups? In which ways do categories like ethnicity, nationality, religion, and class affect the usage of language? These issues are more specifically covered in the field of sociolinguistics which is one of the main branches of macrolinguistics.
When people use language, they do more than just try to get another person to understand the speaker’s feelings and thoughts. At the same time, both people are using the language in subtle ways to define their relationship to each other, to identify themselves as part of a social group, and to establish the kind of speech event they are in (Fasold, 1990: 1).
Sociolinguistics deals with a variety of topics. Some of them are related to the study of interpersonal communication including speech acts, speech events, sequences of utterances, sociolect(language variety used by a particular social class) and diglossia (situation in which two languages exist side by side, and each is used for a different purpose).Other areas include the study of language choice in bilingual and multilingual communities, language planning, dialectology (study of dialects), language transfer, code switching (changing between languages when speaking), register (type of language used in certain contexts or situations), jargon (technical vocabulary used by people from a particular occupation or job) and the study of pidgin (simple form of language used as a contact language between groups of people who speak different languages) and creole (developed form of a pidgin) (Richards, et al, 1993; Mansoor, 2014).
Psycholinguistics is the study of language behaviour; how people learn and use language to communicate ideas (Taylor, 1990: 3). It is the study of language and mind; how the mindprocesses andproduces language. “It explores what goes on in the human mind as an individual acquires, comprehends, produces and stores language” (Aitchison, 2012: 159). It asks questions such as: How is language produced, perceived, comprehended, and remembered? How is it used for different communicative purposes? How is it acquired? How does it go wrong? How is it represented in the mind?
Field (2003, 2) points out that psycholinguistics explores the relationship between the human mind and language. It treats the language user as an individual rather than a representative of a society; an individual whose linguistic performance is determined by the strengths and limitations of the mental apparatus which we all share. Its agenda is to trace similar patterns of linguistic behavior across large groups of individual speakers of a particular language or of all languages. Another major concern of psycholinguistics is the study of memory processes. To interpret any event or story, a person must make sense of it by sorting out, What’s happening? Who does what? To whom? Why? When? Where? How? What is this story about? The task of sorting out is helped immensely if the interpreter can activate a similar pattern of events from his/her knowledge of the world and relate it to the current event (ibid).
According to a stage or store view, memory is divided into two separate but interacting stages: Short-term memory is limited in the length of time and the number of items it can hold. It is also called the working memory. Long-term memory serves as storage into which information is inserted via short-term memory and from which information is retrieved to be used in short-term memory. A practically unlimited amount of relatively permanent knowledge and skills are stored in long-term memory (Taylor & Taylor, 1990: 21).
Generally, neurolinguistics can be defined as the relationship between language and brain. It is “the study of the function the brain performs in language learning and language use. Neurolinguistics includes research into how the structure of the brain influences language learning, how and which parts of the brain language is stored, and how damage to the brain affects the ability to use language”(Richards, et al, 1993: 245). Brain damage or malfunction is clearly seen in case of aphasia and dyslexia. Aphasia is simply defined as the loss of the ability to use and understand language, while dyslexia refers to a slight disorder in the brain that causes difficulty in reading and spelling, but does not affect intelligence (Mansoor, 2014: 153-154).
There have also been many studies of second language performance and some of second language loss following brain damage, looking at issues such as hemisphere laterality (which side of the brain is involved in what linguistic activities) and language learning following brain damage (Mcdonough, 2002: 15). Çelik (2007, 367) refers to the division of functions between the hemispheres of the brain as lateralization. In other words, the two hemispheres are not identical in the tasks they execute. This practically means that one hemisphere is more dominant than the other for a specific function. Corina, Vaid&Bellugi (1992, 1258) state that in humans, the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain are functionally specialized with the left hemisphere predominantly mediating language skills. The left hemisphere of the human brain is specialized for language.
Applied linguistics is “the study of language and linguistics in relation to practical problems, such as lexicography, translation, speech pathology, etc.”(Stern, 1983; cited in Richards et al, 1993). It is primarily concerned with the application of linguistic theories, methods and findings to the explanation of language problems which have arisen in other areas of experience.By the 1990s, applied linguistics had broadened including critical studies and multilingualism. Research in applied linguistics was shifted to “the theoretical and empirical investigation of real world problems in which language is a central issue”(Brumfit, 1997 cited in wikipedia).
Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of linguistics which identifies, investigates and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, psychology, communication research, anthropology and sociology (Davies & Elder, 2004 cited in wikipedia).It is the application of linguistics to language teaching; the study of a large number of practical issues involving language in general and second language learning in particular.
Applied linguistics uses information from sociology (language and society), psychology (language and mind), anthropology (language and culture) and information theory (how communication systems carry information, and measures the amount of information according to how much choice is involved when sending information; and then uses this information and theory in practical areas such as syllabus design, speech therapy, language planning and stylistics (Richards, et al, 1993: 19, 180).