Language, language and speech

The language is the system of oral or written signs we use to communicate within a group.

The language , meanwhile, is the ability of all human beings communicate through signs to express our thoughts.

Finally, speech is the oral manifestation of language.

Although language and language are often used as synonyms, the reality is that language is the system we use to communicate and is specified in speech, while language is the human faculty, which makes an individual fit to express himself.

DefinitionSystem of verbal, written and gestural signs that a group uses to communicate. Includes grammar rules.Ability to express thoughts and ideas through the use of verbal, written and gestural signs.Individual expression of the language.
CharacteristicsIt is the heritage of a community.

It is expressed through speech.

It is social.

It is made up of signs that are organized by rules and conventions.

It changes over time.

It is intangible.

It is arbitrary, since it corresponds to the agreements of each community.

It is a universal heritage.

It requires language and speech to be expressed.

It is an innate human ability.

It is intangible.

It is concrete.

It is subject to geographical, cultural, physical and other changes.

It manifests itself through the spoken or written word.

  • Mother tongue
  • Second language
  • Natural tongue
  • Constructed language
  • Living tongue
  • Dead language
  • Oral language.
  • Written language.
It is not categorized by type.
ExamplesSpanish, English, French, Italian language, etc.A letter, a voicemail, a scientific article, etc.A conversation, a speech.

What is the language?

By definition, language is the communication system used by a human group. It is made up of a set of linguistic signs that are manifested orally or in writing. It can also have a gestural system.

The language is synonymous with what we know as a language (Spanish, English, French, Italian, Mandarin, etc).

Each language has a system with its own rules, its own grammar and is publicly accessible. Therefore, it is the non-tangible heritage of a community.

The Spanish language, the French language or the Nahuatl language are some examples of the above.

Language characteristics

These are some of the most outstanding characteristics of the language:

  • It is social: the language is created, verified and transmitted in community.
  • It is organized through rules and conventions that regulate the use of the signs that make it up.
  • It undergoes changes: the language can be susceptible to variations, but these are only perceived with the passage of time.
  • It is intangible: it requires speech to manifest itself, it is part of an abstract reality, since it does not exist in a physical way.

Language types

The language attends to different classifications, depending on whether it is a mother tongue or a second language, natural or constructed, or whether it is a living or dead language.

Mother tongue and second language

The mother tongue is the one that is assimilated in the most immediate home or social group, often unconsciously. Although there are several criteria to define this term, in general it is considered that a mother tongue meets these characteristics:

  • It is the first language learned.
  • It is learned, generally, by transmission from the mother.
  • It is the language that the individual feels as his own, therefore he tends to use it to communicate complex ideas in intellectual or emotional terms, compared to other languages ​​acquired later.

For its part, the second language is learned through conscious study and is generally used as a second option, after the mother tongue.

Natural language and constructed language

The natural language is one that is established according to social practice over time, which is what determines the configuration of signs that make up the communication system. Its evolution may be influenced by other languages.

While the constructed language is a creation of one or more individuals, who deliberately establish the signs and norms that will govern said language, hence it is also called a planned language.

The Quenya and Sindarin , for example, were created by JRR Tolkien for the world of Arda, where pass most of his fiction, including The Lord of the Rings.

Live language and dead language

living language is one that is used consistently in a group or community large enough to ensure its evolution and transmission over time, regardless of whether it is native or dominant, natural or constructed.

Guaraní, an indigenous language used in Paraguay as a co-official language, as well as in parts of Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina, is an example of a living language.

On the other hand, a dead language no longer has speakers, which prevents it from maintaining its continuity. Latin is a dead language, since although there are documents in that language, and it is used in the Vatican, it does not have enough speakers to maintain its continuity.

What is language?

Language is the potential we have to use the oral and written signs of the language. That is, it is the human faculty that allows us to communicate. It is an innate and abstract ability, as it occurs on a mental plane.

Without language, there can be no language or speech.

Language characteristics

In general terms, language is a human capacity that responds to the need to communicate. These are some of its most outstanding characteristics:

  • It is materialized in the language and oral or written speech.
  • It can be verbal (speaking and writing) or non-verbal (symbols, images, gestures).
  • It is an innate ability.
  • It is rational, since it requires the use of reason to associate the signs that will form a word or sentence.
  • It is arbitrary, since the association of symbols and ideas responds to social conventions that, moreover, may vary according to the group. For example, the signs that make up the word “house” in the French language ( maison ) are not the same as those used in the Spanish language.
  • It is universal, since language is an inherent capacity of all human beings.

Language manifestations

Language can be manifested, fundamentally, in two ways: orally or in writing. Next, we explain each one to you.

Oral language

Oral language is the spoken expression of language through sounds (phonemes) that are organized according to previous conventions to create words and sentences.

In this case, the message is immediate, it has an ephemeral nature and does not necessarily require elaboration (it can be improvised).

Written language

Written language is the graphic representation of phonemes through letters or spellings.

In written language, communication can be deferred, since the message can transcend time and requires a minimum of elaboration to structure ideas.

See also Differences between oral and written communication.

What is speech?

Speech is the individual manifestation of language. That is, each speaking subject, although subject to the conventions established by the language, uses it in a particular way

In this sense, language requires speech to be concrete, but speech would not exist without language.

Speech elements

For oral speech to occur, it requires three elements:

  • Articulation : it is the materialization of the phonemes that make up a language.
  • Voice : the sound that results from the vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Rhythm: the cadence or speed of each speaking subject.

The absence of any of these elements would prevent a correct exercise of speech and, therefore, the ability to communicate would be seriously limited.

Speech characteristics

Speech, as a concretization of a language, has some characteristics that define it, especially if we consider it in contrast to language and language. Next, we explain some of its most relevant characteristics.

  • It allows the individual to communicate a message according to their own skills, knowledge and experiences.
  • Being an individual act, it is heterogeneous, because although it responds to the generalities of a language, it will be recreated according to each speaker.
  • It requires the norms of the language to be understandable, but the act of speaking itself is not regulated, since it is not a linguistic system as such, but makes use of one.
  • It is determined by several factors: chronological, geographical, socio-cultural and functional.

See also:

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