Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, linguistics, psychology, computer science, anthropology, and sociology.
Major branches of applied linguistics focus on bilingualism and multilingualism, computer-mediated communication , conversation analysis, contrastive linguistics, sign linguistics, language assessment, literacies, discourse analysis, language pedagogy, second language acquisition, lexicography, language planning and policies, stylistics, pragmatics, forensic linguistics, and translation.
The tradition of applied linguistics established itself in part as a response to the narrowing of focus in linguistics with the advent in the late 1950s of generative linguistics, and has always maintained a socially accountable role, demonstrated by its central interest in language problems.
In the early days, applied linguistics was thought as “linguistics-applied” at least from the outside of the field. In the 1960s, however, applied linguistics was expanded to include language assessment, language policy, and second language acquisition. Applied linguistics also included solution of language-related problems in the real world. By the 1990s, applied linguistics has broadened including critical studies and multilingualism. Research of applied linguistics was shifted to "the theoretical and empirical investigation of real world problems in which language is a central issue."
As the study of the mental processes involved in the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language, much psycholinguistic work has been devoted to the learning of languageby children and on speech processing and comprehension by both children and adults. Traditional areas of research include language production, language comprehension, language acquisition, language disorders, language and thought, and neurocognition.
Although psychologists have long been interested in language, and the field of linguistics is an older science than psychology, scientists in the two fields have had little contact until the work of Noam Chomsky was published in the late 1950s. Chomsky's writing had the effect of making psychologists acutely aware of their lack of knowledge about the structure of language, and the futility of focusing attention exclusively upon the surface structure of language. As a result, psycholinguists, who have a background of training in both linguistics and psychology, have been attempting since the early 1960s to gain a better understanding of how the abstract rules which determine human language are acquired and used to communicate appropriately created meaningful messages from one person to another via the vocal-auditory medium. Research has been directed to the evolutionary development of language, the biological bases of language, the nature of the sound system, the rules of syntax, the nature of meaning, and the process of language acquisition.
Defined as the study of language as it affects and is affected by social relations, sociolinguistics encompasses a broad range of concerns, including bilingualism, pidgin and creole languages, and other ways that language use is influenced by contact among people of different language communities (e.g., speakers of German, French, Italian, and Romansh in Switzerland).
Sociolinguists also examine different dialects, accents, and levels of dictionin light of social distinctions among people. Although accent refers strictly to pronunciation, in practice a dialect can usually be identified by the accent of its speakers as well as by distinctive words, usages, idiomatic expressions, and grammatical features. Dialectsreflect and may reinforce class, ethnic, or regional differences among speakers of the same language. Individuals sometimes deliberately change their dialect as a means of improving their social status. Speakers of any dialect or any language may modulate their vocabulary and level of diction according to social context, speaking differently in church, for example, than on the playground; social activities that tend to shape the language of those engaging in it are sometimes called registers.