The study of language: contemporary debates Like many of the disciplines whose subject matter is closely concerned with human beings, linguistics has had to struggle for its place in the academy. Its denition as ‘the scientic study of language’ would seem to be designed partly with this in mind, and traditional linguistics identies its remit as the provision of a ‘grammatical model’ of a language, which is an attempt to represent systematically and overtly what the native speaker of that language intuitively knows. Linguistics is routinely acknowledged to overlap with many other disciplines, including psychology, philosophy, anthropology and sociology, and its concerns have included the identication and description of different languages around the world, the history of changes in language through time, the relationship of the sub-systems of language to each other (sounds, units of meaning, vocabulary, syntax) and so on. To some extent, linguistics has needed to distinguish its own eld of study from other, cognate areas, and two of the key contributors to the discipline [Saussure and Chomsky] have been important in this respect. They are gures with whose work social scientists are likely to be familiar, [. . .] because they are concerned with the nature of the real and with stratied accounts of language.