Language:  systematic means of communication with others using sounds, syllables and words in expressing meaning, idea or thought.

Language Disorders:  abnormal acquisition, comprehension or use of spoken or written language.  It may involve any aspect of the form, content or use components of the linguistic system.

Receptive Language (language comprehension):  refers to the ability to derive meaning from incoming auditory visual messages.  Children with receptive language diffculties may exhibit the following:

  • following directions
  • answering questions
  • identifying objects and pictures
  • understanding the meaning of gestures

Expressive Language (language production):  involves the combination of linguistic symbols to form meaningful messages.  Children with expressive language diffculties may exhibit the following:

  • asking questions
  • naming objects and pictures
  • using gestures
  • putting words together to formulate sentences

Content:  what people talk about and what they understand of what other people say.

1.  Semantics:  involves the meaning of individual words and the rules that govern the combinations of word meanings to form meaningful phrases and sentences.  Impairment in semantics can take the form of the following:

  • reduced vocabulary
  • restricted semantic categories
  • word retrieval deficits
  • poor word association skills
  • difficulty with figurative (nonliteral) language forms such as idioms, metaphors and humor

Form:  units of sound (phonology), units of meaning that are words or inflections (morphology) and the ways in which units of meaning are combined with one another (syntax).

1.  Phonology:  study of the sound system of language.  The phonological system governs the ways in which sounds in a language can be combined to form words.  Children with phonologically based problems demonstrate difficulty in acquiring a phonological system, not necessarily in production of the sounds.

2.  Morphology:  involves the structure of words and the construction of individual word forms from the basic elements of meaning (i.e., morphemes).  Deficits in morphology are manifested as difficulties with the following:

  • inflectional markers such as plurals, past tense, auxiliary verbs possessives, to name a few

3.  Syntax:  involves the rules governing the order and combination of words in the construction of well-formed sentences.  Syntactic deficits are characterized by problems with the following:

  • simple and complex sentence types such as negatives, interrogatives, passives and word-order difficulties

Use:  reason for talking; the socially and cognitively determined selection of behaviors according to goals of the speaker and the context of the situation. 

1.  Pragmatics:  involves the rules of governing the use of language in a social context.  Pragmatic impairments can include the following:

  • reduced repertoire of communicative intentions
  • turn-taking difficulties in conversation
  • an inability to repair messages that are not understood by the listener
  • difficulty with narrative discourse such as storytelling





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