The difference between a linguist and a philologist.

The closely related humanities disciplines generate internal disputes over identity. So, how a linguist differs from a philologist, even they themselves often cannot explain: some professionals insist on the synonymization of these concepts, others - on a clear differentiation of specialties. Let's try to understand these contradictions.

  1. Comparison
  2. Table

According to the modern explanatory dictionary of Efremova, a philologist is a specialist in the field of philology or a student studying at the philological faculty of a university... Linguist (see ibid.) - a specialist in the field of linguistics, linguist. First of all, we have to look for differences between these humanitarian disciplines.

Difficulties in this already difficult task are created by the Russian education system, which is inclined to change standards or to do without them altogether. Thus, the philological faculties of some universities graduate both linguists and philologists, others - only linguists, and still others - only philologists. At Moscow State University. Lomonosov's direction "Linguistics" is present both at the philological faculty and at the faculty of foreign languages ​​and regional studies. The specialties received by graduates will be completely different. In addition, traditionally in Russia, the students of the respective departments are future teachers of the Russian language and literature, and their activities have little in common with the professions we are considering.


Until the middle of the 19th century in Russia, the field of knowledge, covering language and literature, was called literature. With the development of theory and the growth of the amount of information, an internal division into linguistics and literary studies occurred: the first studies language as a system, the second - culture, expressed in language and literary creativity. These two branches of science are united under the auspices of philology.

Traditionally in Russia, philology is identified with literary criticism, but in fact this concept is broader than the study of the texts of works of fiction. A specialist in this field of knowledge usually has a complete understanding of the history and theory of literature, linguistics (at least one language), poetics and other scientific disciplines. Philology itself is not a scientific discipline, but unites many of them, therefore there is an opinion that not every philologist is a linguist, but every linguist is a philologist.

Linguists are traditionally considered as translators, dividing only according to the language they study. However, translation activity is a small part of the practical linguistics of foreign languages.

Linguistics (or linguistics) deals with the direct study of language from the point of view of its theory and practice. Specialists in various fields are considering the structure of the language, the models of its development, and the comparison of languages ​​and language groups. Lexicology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics - sections of general linguistics; private linguistics examines the structure of one language or group.

When the context implies the identification of philology with literary criticism, we can say that the main task of a specialist is the interpretation, interpretation, and explanation of the text of a work of art. Here, the boundaries between history, cultural studies, art history, sociology, philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, psychology are practically blurred, the methods and results of linguistic research are used, but the text is considered in close connection with the corresponding cultural layer.

In this case, the main difference between a linguist and a philologist is that for the first language is the object of study, and for the second it is an instrument. Linguistics explores the world of the conscious, relying on its own methodology, literary criticism - the world of the unconscious, relying on intuition. Considering one work, the linguist will study the form (speech style, sentence structure, qualitative composition of vocabulary), and the philologist-literary critic will study the content (images, characters of heroes, plot, author's attitude, historical and social prerequisites, artistic means).

A philologist, if he is not a linguist, but specializes in other fields, must attach an evaluative character to his scientific work. A literary critic cannot and should not abstract from his own perception, while a linguist can have a personal opinion, but cannot evaluate the object of research - it is neutral.

The foreign education system does not suffer from the differentiation of such closely related branches of knowledge. In most cases, a linguist is a specialist in the theory of language and applied applications, a philologist is a researcher of works of art who specializes in the literature of one country, historical period, or a particular author. His activity practically does not correlate with linguistics, with the exception of attention to specific means of expression.

And more. The Runet study demonstrates the difference between a linguist and a philologist: jokes are made about the latter. Which are also objects of attention of philological sciences.


Linguist Philologist
A specialist in the study of a language or a group of languages ​​A specialist in any of the philological sciences, including a linguist; is often identified with a literary critic
Language is an object of studyLanguage is an instrument of research
Considers a text from a formal point of viewConsiders the content of the text, together with the history of its creation and socio-psychological prerequisites
Research is not evaluativeBe sure to evaluate the object based on his own perception