Difference Wiki

Linguistics vs. Applied Linguistics: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 20, 2024
Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure; Applied Linguistics uses linguistic theory in practical areas like teaching.

Key Differences

Linguistics is a broad field studying language structure, including syntax, semantics, and phonetics. Applied linguistics, conversely, focuses on practical applications of this knowledge, like language teaching, assessment, and translation.
In linguistics, research is often theoretical, exploring language fundamentals. In applied linguistics, the emphasis is on solving real-world problems, such as improving language education methods or developing better language assessment tools.
Linguistics encompasses numerous subfields like sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and historical linguistics, exploring various aspects of language. Applied linguistics integrates these insights to address specific societal needs, like language policy formulation or second language acquisition.
Linguistics graduates might pursue careers in research, language documentation, or academia. Applied linguistics professionals often work in education, language planning, or in areas where language intersects with technology, like natural language processing.
The goal of linguistics is to deepen understanding of language's nature and function. Applied linguistics aims to apply this understanding to solve practical problems, enhancing communication and understanding in multilingual and multicultural contexts.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Theoretical study of language structure and use
Practical application of linguistic theory

Key Areas

Syntax, semantics, phonetics, morphology
Language teaching, assessment, policy

Research Orientation

Theoretical, abstract
Practical, problem-solving

Professional Applications

Research, academia, language documentation
Language education, translation, language policy

Ultimate Objective

Understanding language's nature and function
Applying linguistic insights to real-world issues

Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Definitions


Language Analysis.
She specializes in linguistics, particularly syntax analysis.

Applied Linguistics

Language Use in Society.
Applied linguistics is integral to formulating language policies.


Study of Language.
Linguistics explores the structure and evolution of language.

Applied Linguistics

Application of Linguistic Theory.
Applied linguistics utilizes theories to enhance language learning.


Science of Communication.
Linguistics is crucial in understanding human communication.

Applied Linguistics

Language in Real-World Contexts.
She uses applied linguistics in speech therapy.


Language Structure Exploration.
His linguistics research focuses on phonetic variations.

Applied Linguistics

Language Problem Solving.
In applied linguistics, we focus on resolving communication barriers.


Language Function Examination.
Linguistics helps decipher how language influences thought.

Applied Linguistics

Practical Language Application.
Applied linguistics is used to develop new language teaching methodologies.


The study of the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics.


The scientific study of language.


The science of languages, or of the origin, signification, and application of words; glossology.


The scientific study of language


The humanistic study of language and literature


Is applied linguistics only about language teaching?

No, it also includes translation, policy-making, and more.

What is applied linguistics?

The application of linguistic theories to solve practical problems.

Can linguistics be used in technology?

Yes, particularly in fields like natural language processing.

How do linguistics and applied linguistics differ?

Linguistics is theoretical; applied linguistics is practical.

Does applied linguistics help with speech therapy?

Yes, it's used to develop effective therapy methods.

What is linguistics?

The scientific study of language structure and usage.

What careers are available in applied linguistics?

Language teaching, policy formulation, translation services.

How does linguistics contribute to AI development?

By providing insights into language processing.

What careers are available in linguistics?

Academic research, language documentation, and more.

Do linguists learn multiple languages?

Often, but their focus is on language structure, not fluency.

Are linguistics and applied linguistics interdependent?

Yes, applied linguistics relies on linguistic research.

Can applied linguistics help with social issues?

Yes, through language policy and multilingual education.

What skills are important in linguistics?

Analytical thinking, understanding of language theory, and research skills.

What’s a major challenge in linguistics?

Understanding the complexity and diversity of languages.

What skills are essential in applied linguistics?

Practical application of theory, problem-solving, and often teaching skills.

Can applied linguistics aid in cultural understanding?

Yes, it helps in understanding and navigating linguistic diversity in multicultural settings.

Is applied linguistics beneficial for language learners?

Yes, it improves teaching methods and materials.

Is computational linguistics part of linguistics or applied linguistics?

It's a branch of linguistics, often overlapping with applied linguistics in practical applications.

What is the future of applied linguistics?

Growing, especially in areas like language technology, global communication, and educational policy.

How does linguistics interact with psychology?

Through psycholinguistics, studying language processing and acquisition.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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