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language and linguistics What is language?
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Language usually refers to the human system of units of sound (†phonemes) compounded into words, in turn combined through grammatical rules (syntactically) to form a mode of communication that may be realized in both speech and writing. †Saussure suggested that linguistics, the study of language in this narrow sense, was part of a wider field of investigation of signs and signification in general which he called †‘semi-ology’. A notable instance of the application of a semiological perspective is *Lévi-Strauss’s analysis of *mythology, though terms such as ‘grammar’ of myth, or of clothing, should be understood as analogies with language in the narrow sense, and do not mean that all human sign systems necessarily share common principles of organization.