SociolinguisticsSociolinguistics is a macro-linguistic discipline as it deals with language’s interplay with broad social factors, that is, the effect that group membership and different perceptions of populations has on language and its evolution. However, there are still micro-linguistic aspects to this discipline. Sociological factors are great agents of language change, and language changes on a micro-linguistic level. For example, a marginalized population may adopt a phonological innovation that can become a sign of membership to the group. The group can be seen as a macro-linguistic factor, but the change itself happens on a micro-linguistic level, as it involves smaller and abstract elements of language.
Historical linguistics is all about following the way languages change. Although this is generally examined on broader terms over large periods of time, that is, how is German different from English, and how did different historical changes create the modern reflexes of old patterns and sounds in relation to their common Germanic ancestor. Much like sociolinguistics, however, the changes themselves, in fact, happened (and still happen) on a micro-linguistic level. Language changes in tiny steps. Perhaps a vowel is fronted just a bit in one population in one generation, and just a bit more in another. In a few generations, a new pattern may emerge. The same can go for syntactic factors, or semantic factors. All of these aspects of language change, and they tend to change slowly and the smaller, abstract units of language are involved. When all of these changes are added up, the sum can very well result in a large change, and the bigger picture will reveal itself to researchers on a macro level.
Computational linguistics involves the use of computers and programming to examine language. Computational linguists are generally interested in the bigger picture, but, just as in Historical linguistics and Sociolinguistics, elements on the micro level are also at play. Computational linguistics dissects language into its smallest parts and re-assembles it in the virtual realm so that researchers can better study how it functions. Without breaking language down to the micro-level, computational linguistics would not be able to build an analogous system in a computer program, and they would not be able to study the broader, macro aspects of the language.
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