Center for Speech and Language Disorders

Therapy That Makes A Difference

820 North Orleans Street Suite 217
Chicago, IL 60654

630-652-0200 310-D South Main Street
Lombard, IL 60148

Helping Individuals Reach Their Full Potential

Language vs. Speech

What is Language? What is Speech? (From the American Speech-Language Hearing Association)

Language is different from speech.

Language is made up of socially shared rules that include the following:

• What words mean (e.g., "star" can refer to a bright object in the night sky or a celebrity)
• How to make new words (e.g., friend, friendly, unfriendly)
• How to put words together (e.g., "Peg walked to the new store" rather than "Peg walk store new")
• What word combinations are best in what situations ("Would you mind moving your foot?" could quickly change to "Get off my foot, please!" if the first request did not produce results)

Speech is the verbal means of communicating. Speech consists of the following:

• Articulation: How speech sounds are made (e.g., children must learn how to produce the "r" sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
• Voice : Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (e.g., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice).
• Fluency: The rhythm of speech (e.g., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language) or using language appropriately in social situations (pragmatic language), then he or she has a language disorder.  A receptive and expressive language disorder means we may not have a good understanding of the meaning of words and how and when to use them. Because of this, we have trouble following directions and speaking in long sentences. Language disorders can affect people from early childhood to late adulthood and stem from a number of etiologies including cognitive delays, learning disabilities, ASD, aphasia, or exist on their own.

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder. A speech disorder can make us hard to understand. If the lips, tongue, and mouth are not moved at the right time, then what we say will not sound right. People who stutteror whose voices sound hoarse or nasal have speech problems as well.