Elucidate the four components of Language Development.

The four main components of language development are as follows:

  1. Phonology.
  2. Semantics.
  3. Grammar.
  4. Pragmatics.

Phonology:

According to Wikipedia, Phonology is the branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. From around birth to one year, the infant starts to make speech sounds. At around four months cooing turns into babbling such as baba-baba, papa-papa etc. Though the infants are able to speak less but they understand more. By the end of 2 years, infants know how to pronounce familiar words correctly.

Grammar:

Grammar consists of two parts morphology and syntax.

Morphology: Moving to the next level of language, we find the study of the smallest units of meaning, morphemes. Morphemes include base words, such as “hat,” “dog,” or “love,” as well as affixes, such as “un-,” “,” the plural “s” or “es,” and the past tense “ed.” Knowledge of the morphology of our language is critical to vocabulary development and reflects the smallest building blocks for comprehension.

Syntax: The study of how individual words and their most basic meaningful units are combined to create sentences is known as syntax. As words are grouped together when we communicate, we must follow the rules of grammar for our language, in other words, its syntax. it is the knowledge of syntax that allows us to recognize that the following two sentences, while containing different word order and levels of complexity, have the same meaning.

  • The baby hit the ball.
  • The ball was hit by the baby.

While it is correct syntax “I went to the store”, another correct syntax for same meaning is the sentence “To store went I” but it would not be acceptable English.

Semantics.

Not only does the grammatical structure of our language provide the needed clues for understanding, we also have a wealth of figurative language and rich description that adds color and nuance to our communication.

Semantics refers to the ways in which a language conveys meaning. It is our understanding of semantics that allows us to recognize that someone who is “green with envy” has not changed hue, or that “having cold feet” has less to do with the appendage at the end of our legs and more to do with our anxiety about a new experience.

Because semantics moves beyond the literal meaning of words and is cultudependent, this is among the most difficult aspects of language for individuals who are not native speakers and even those who speak the same language but come from different cultures and convey meaning using words in unique ways.

Anyone who has attempted to converse with a teenager in his own vernacular can appreciate the importance of sharing a semantic base for communicating clearly.

Pragmatics.

Pragmatics refers to the ways the members of the speech community achieve their goals using language. The way we speak to our parents is not the same as the way we interact with a sibling, for example. The language used in a formal speech may bear little resemblance to what we would hear at a lunch with five friends.

The conversational style of day-to-day interactions is quite different from the language used even, when reading a storybook to a toddler. Knowing the difference and when to use which style is the essence of pragmatics.

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