Difference between Pragmatics, Syntax, Morphology, and Phonology

Key Difference: Pragmatics, Syntax, Morphology and Phonology are different sub-fields or branches of linguistics. Pragmatics deals with the study of language by considering the context in which it is used. Syntax is the study of the structural aspect of language by dealing with phrase and sentence formation.  Morphology is the study of minimal units of meaning which includes morphemes and word formation process. Phonology deals with the study of sound patterns of language.

Pragmatics deals with the study of language by considering the context in which it is used. It is not concerned with the way language is structured. Speech is looked as a social act which is ruled or governed by many social conventions.

It can be simply referred to as the study of speaker meaning or can be considered as the contextual meaning. The meanings are interpreted from recognising the apparent meaning. Thus, it includes both aspects - the way speaker communicates the message and the way the listener interpretes the message. Pragmatics is simply the study of use of language in context.

Syntax is the study of the structural aspect of language by dealing with phrase and sentence formation.  It basically deals with seeing ways through which words combine to form grammatical sentences.

Structure of sentences is governed by rules of syntax. One must remember that it is not about meaning of the sentences. Meaning-less sentences can also be grammatically correct.

Morphology is the study of minimal units of meaning which includes morphemes and word formation process. It deals with the study of forms and also deals with the ways in which words possess a relationship with some other words of the same language.

It includes the grammatical processes of inflection and derivation. Derivational morphemes typically indicate semantic relations within the word. On the other hand, Inflectional morphemes typically indicate syntactic or semantics relations between words in a sentence.

Phonology deals with the study of sound patterns of language. It also includes the distribution and pronunciation. It can be considered as the study of distinctive words in a language. It deals with the concept of a phoneme which is a distinctive or contrastive sound in a language.

Phonology is about the functional aspects of speech.  It involves the actual sound of words which is constructed from the Phoneme. Phoneme is basically the smallest unit of pronunciation. Phonology also shares its attributes with other branches of linguistics like Pragmatics, Semantics, Syntax, Morphology and Phonetics. It becomes a basis of further research in subject areas like morphology and semantics. It involves the study of both phonemes and prosody (stress, rhythm and intonation) as subsystems of spoken language.

 Pragmatics deals with the study of language by considering the context in which it is used. Syntax is the study of formation of grammatical sentences with words. Morphology can be described as a branch of grammar which looks into the ways in which words are formed from morphemes. Phonology is the study of sound systems of languages and it is also related with the general and universal properties exhibited by these systems.

Comparison between Pragmatics, Syntax, Morphology and Phonology:

 

Pragmatics

Syntax

Morphology

Phonology

Definition

Pragmatics deals with the study of language by considering the context in which it is used.

Syntax is the study of the structural aspect of language by dealing with phrase and sentence formation.

Morphology is the study of minimal units of meaning which includes morphemes and word formation process.

Phonology deals with the study of sound patterns of language.  It also includes the distribution and pronunciation.

 

Word Origin

Via Latin pragmaticus from the Greek πραγματικός (pragmatikos), meanings - "fit for action",which comes from πρᾶγμα (pragma), "deed, act" and from πράσσω (prassō), "to pass over, to practise, to achieve".

From the Greek word syntaxis, which means arrangement.

From Greek words morph- meaning 'shape, form', and -ology which means 'the study of something'.

From Greek φωνή, phōnḗ, "voice, sound," and the suffix -logy (which is from Greek λόγος, lógos, "word, speech, subject of discussion".

Main focus

How language is used for the purpose of communication.

Rules governing the way words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and sentences.

Morpheme:minimal meaningful language unit.  Unlike Phoneme, morphemes have unique meanings.

Distinctive sounds within a language,

 

Nature of sound systems across the languages.

 

Phoneme -  the smallest unit of sound that has meaning within a language.

 

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