the branch of linguistics devoted to the study of the theoretical bases for describing language and methods of investigating linguistic phenomena. General linguistics also studies the connection between linguistics and other fields of learning, including dialectical materialism, logic, and psychology (language represents consciousness in action). In addition, it studies the connection between linguistics and historical materialism, inasmuch as the development of language is conditioned by the structure of society and social processes. General linguistics also studies the relationship between linguistics and semiotics (language is the most universal system of signs used by society), as well as the connection between linguistics and physiology and acoustics (language is materialized and embodied in the sounds of speech).
One feature of general linguistics is a dual approach to the study of language—a structural and social approach engendered by the very nature of language. From the standpoint of structural linguistics, general linguistics studies language as an integrated structure (consisting of interrelated and interacting phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactical, and other systems), with internal rules specific to each language.
The description of language as a structure may be either synchronic or, taking account of the dynamics of development, diachronic. The comparative study of different languages reveals their common features or differences on a typological or genetic level. The study of the content of language helps reveal the nature and processes of thinking and thereby relates structural linguistics to the social aspect of linguistics.
From the standpoint of sociolinguistics, general linguistics studies the social functions of language, the relationship between language and social processes (the dependence of the form of a language at any given period on social processes), and the reflection of these social processes in the social and territorial differentiation of language and in its structural and stylistic variation. The relation between language and society is particularly apparent in the intermediation between the types of social relationships and the different forms of language at different stages of social development (for example, the formation of national languages during the historical emergence of ethnic identity).
N. S. CHEMODANOV