Daily Archives: May 19, 2017

What is a Language Disorder?

Greetings everyone!  I am back for week three of Better Hearing and Speech Month (2017).  I would like to share with you guys basic information on “What is a Language Disorder?  Let’s take a look below!

A language disorder can be defined as the abnormal acquisition, comprehension or use of spoken or written language.  This includes all receptive and expressive language skills.  The disorder may involve any aspect of the form, content or use components of the linguistic system.

Classification of Language Disorders

A disorder can involve both the comprehension and production of language.  Language comprehension (receptive language) refers to the ability to derive meaning from incoming auditory or visual messages.  Language production (expressive language) involves the combination of linguistic symbols to form meaningful messages.  Language disorders are general classified according to the major components of the linguistic system:

Semantics involves the meaning of individual words and the rules that govern the combinations of word meanings to form meaningful phrases and sentences.  Impairments in this subsystem can take the form of reduced vocabulary, restricted semantic categories, word retrieval deficits, poor word association skills and difficulty with figurative (nonliteral) language forms such as idioms, metaphors and humor.

Morphology involves the structure of words and the construction of individual word forms from the basic elements of meaning (i.e., morphemes).  Deficits in this component are manifested as difficulties with inflectional markers such as plurals, past tense, auxiliary verbs, possessives and so on.

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 simple and complex sentence types such as negatives, interrogatives, passives and relative clauses as well as occasional word-order difficulties.

Pragmatics involves the rules governing the use of language in social context.  Pragmatic impairments can include a reduced repertoire of communicative intentions, turn-taking difficulties in conversation, an inability to repair messages that are not understood by the listener and difficulty with narrative discourse such as storytelling.

Phonology involves the particular sounds (i.e., phonemes) that comprise the sound system of a language and the rules that govern permissible sound combinations.  Children with phonologically based problems demonstrate difficulty in acquiring a phonological system, not necessarily in production of the sounds.  These children do not simply possess an incomplete system of speech sounds; rather, their errors have logical and coherent principles underlying their use.

I hope I have helped someone develop a better understanding of a language disorder.  If you suspect that your child has a language impairment, please consult with a Speech-language pathologist as soon as possible.  I thank you for taking the time to read the information that has been presented.  Week four’s topic of discussion will be “What is a Fluency Disorder?”


Roth, Froma P. and Worthington, Colleen K.  Treatment Resource Manual for Speech-Language Pathology 2nd Edition.  Albany:  Singular Thomson Learning, 2001.  Print.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,