In order to understand the importance of language, we have to know the difference between two commonly confused terms — speech and language.
What’s the difference?
Speech is the verbal means of communicating. It’s how spoken language is conveyed. Speech includes the following:
a) Articulation — how speech sounds are produced by the articulators (lips, teeth, tongue, palate, velum). For example, a child must be able to produce an /m/ sound to say “me.”
b) Voice — use of the vocal folds and exhalation to produce sound. The voice is characterized by pitch, loudness, and resonance (oral- or nasal-).
c) Fluency — how smoothly the sounds, syllables, words, and phrases are joined together in spoken language.
Language is a system of socially shared rules that are understood (i.e. Language Comprehension or Receptive Language) and expressed (i.e. Expressive Language and Written Language) that includes the following:
a) Form — how words are put together that make sense (syntax or grammar); also how new words are formed (morphology)
b) Content — what words mean (semantics)
c) Use — how the language is used to convey meaning in specific contexts (pragmatics)
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