What are Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics?
Linguistics is the study of language in all its aspects. Linguists are interested in the structure and history of languages; the meaning underlying instances of language use (semantics); how languages are related; how children learn language; what goes on when people are speaking; how people understand, mentally represent and generate language; what features are shared by all languages; why languages differ; how language is used in literature, the media and by various social groups; what happens to language abilities when the brain is damaged by stroke or injury; whether computers will ever be able to understand language; how we can model human language use.
In British English, Philology is often used to mean the historical study of language. Philologists study the development of individual languages but also want to know how languages evolve, whether there are rules of language change, how far change is determined by social and historical circumstances, etc. Comparative philology has developed methods which allow us to group languages in families, to reconstruct their prehistory and to determine the features of the parent language of each family, even if this is not attested.
Phonetics is the study of speech. The subject covers all aspects of speech production, transmission, and reception, including: how people control their organs of speech in order to say what they want to say, the way in which the speech organs move and are coordinated with each other, analysis of the sound waves transmitted from speaker to listener, hearing and speech perception. The methods used include psychological experiments, brain scanning, physiological techniques and computer modelling as well as more impressionistic studies, such as phonetic transcription.