Language and Linguistics

Differences language language and speech with detail

Differences between language language and speech

Language, language and speech are terms that tend to be used interchangeably, although their meanings are completely different and refer to different biological, social and cultural realities.

Language encompasses systems that go beyond the way humans communicate, but it also covers all communication systems created by mankind. For its part, language refers to the various linguistic systems or languages, in their different forms of presentation. Finally, speech refers to the specific and localized ways in which languages ​​are manifested.

The differences between language, language and speech, as we will see, indicate instances of communication that range from the most general to the most particular, and although the concepts tend to be confused, they mean specific things that are good to know.





Physical and biological process that allows communication.

Oral, written and gestural communication system of a community or social group.

Daily and concrete manifestation of a language.


Natural ability, it exists in various species, it has various manifestations, it is an innate ability.

Human manifestation, social, arbitrary and structured character.

Individual character, personal and particular manifestation, does not need rules.


Sender, receiver, code message, channel.

Alphabet, morphemes, phonemes, words, signs, gestures, symbols.

Voice, articulation, intonation, rhythm, lexicon.


Oral, written, corporal, proxemic, iconic, phonetic, poetic.

Living and dead languages, natural and artificial languages, languages ​​in recovery.

Assertive, compromising, directive, declarative, expressive.


Human language, whale language, mathematical language.

Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, German, etc.

Mexican, Argentine, Andalusian, Venezuelan, etc.



Language is a physical and biological process that allows communication between beings of the same species; it is a mechanism to process, preserve and transmit information, limited by the biological and social capacities of each species.

In a more general sense, language is any network of codes that allows the preservation and transmission of information.

Language characteristics

1-Natural ability

It is a natural ability thanks to the evolution of the brain and organs, which allow us to articulate words and express our ideas and thoughts. It is not a learned property but part of our natural baggage.

2-It’s not just human

It is a skill that is present in other animal species, although without the infinite complexity and diversity of human language.

3-Various manifestations

It can be oral, written, gestural or symbolic.

It can be simple, like that of some social insects and aquatic mammals, or extremely complex, like human language.

4-Innate ability

In the human species it is a universal characteristic, as it is present in all past and present societies and cultures. However, despite being an innate ability, if the language is not learned in early childhood, the learning process becomes difficult and in many cases people cannot learn to speak.


Elements of language are considered those that participate in the communicational event:

1-The sender

It is the one who issues or sends the message.

2-The receptor

He is the one who receives and decodes the message.

3-The message

It is the information or content that you are trying to share.

4-The code

It refers to the sign system, or the language used in the message.

The channel

Medium through which the message is sent (air, paper, waves, etc.).

Language types

Depending on the way in which communication is established, the language can be:


When ideas or thoughts are communicated through words using the voice.


When communication is established through writing.

3-Bodily or kinesic

It is when the body is used as an expression of thoughts.


It is when the distance between the bodies is used to send and receive messages. It is often used unconsciously.


When symbols, pictures, images, etc. are used to convey the message.


It is when sounds are used instead of words. An example could be the way dolphins communicate.

7-Poetic or aesthetic

When the language is poetic or aesthetic, the message is more important than the sender or the receiver; it is the language of poetry, narrative, and rhetoric, where style and form become equal to or more important than content.

Language examples

There are various forms of language: human language, the language of chimpanzees or dolphins, computer language, mathematical language, etc.



It is the oral, written and gestural communication system of a community or social group that occupies a specific geographical space. The linguist Ferdinand de Saussure defined language as the “social product” of language. Language is equivalent to the term language.

Language characteristics

1-Exclusive human communication

It is a social and historical manifestation of a natural ability, that of being able to communicate through words. It is unique to human beings.

2-Arbitrary character

Each linguistic group or community determines the meaning, meaning and structure of its language, without the need for a relationship between words and objects. That is why it is said that the language is arbitrary.

3-Structured character

It is a structured system with a set of rules, with a grammar, a syntax and a vocabulary shared by a group.

4-Social and collective character

It is a collective or social manifestation, typical of regional, national and transnational groups. It can be oral, written or gestural.

5-Dynamic character

Language is a dynamic structure open to influences, so it changes over time, and even over geographic space.

A language can have dialect forms: local and regional variations of the same language. An example would be the various ways of speaking Spanish in Spanish-speaking countries.


The elements of the language are the alphabet, morphemes, phonemes, words, accentuation and punctuation marks, gestures and symbols.

7-The alphabet

It is the ordered set of letters or spellings with which a language is written and read.

They can be consonant alphabets, with independent letters for consonants (such as the Hebrew or Arabic alphabet), phonetic, where sounds are represented by a letter (such as Latin or Cyrillic).

Syllabics, where the fundamental element is the syllable (such as Hindi, Nepalese or Marathi), syllabaries, systems where there are symbols that represent syllables (such as Japanese), or semanto-phonetics, which are symbols that represent both meanings and sounds ( like Chinese).


It is the minimum unit of a language capable of expressing a meaning, such as syllables.


It is the minimum unit of a human, vowel or consonant sound.


Unit of meaning that can be made up of one or more morphemes and phonemes, separated from others by pauses or punctuation marks.

11-Accentuation and punctuation marks

They are elements of written language used to facilitate reading and understanding of a text.


They are body movements, especially of the face and hands, whose meaning varies in different linguistic groups and cultures, and which help to transmit and understand the messages.


Gestural graphic representations whose sense and meaning is immediately understood by the members of a linguistic community or culture. An example would be the emoticons of social networks.

Language types

1-Living and dead languages

There are living languages ​​(those that are spoken today), and dead (disappeared languages, such as ancient Greek, Latin or Sumerian).

2-Natural and artificial languages

There are natural languages ​​that have evolved historically, such as Spanish, English or German; and artificial languages, such as Esperanto or fictional languages ​​(such as those created by Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange , JRR Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings , or in television series such as Star Trek or Game of Thrones ).

Special mention is the language of the deaf-mutes, or sign language, with which deaf people can communicate with each other. Each language has its own sign language.

3-Languages ​​in recovery

There are partially artificial natural languages ​​in which an attempt is made to recover the language by incorporating neologisms and adapting it to modern usage.

An example of these would be modern Hebrew, Sanskrit, American indigenous languages ​​and other languages ​​that are practically extinct or in danger of disappearing, which have been recovered and renewed as part of a state policy.

Language examples

Examples of languages ​​are: Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, English, Quechua, Arabic, etc.

It is estimated that there are over 7,000 languages ​​currently spoken in the world, although there are also many languages ​​in the process of extinction.

As for gestures, there are cultures that use gestures that have become typical, such as the action of bringing the fingers of the hand together of Italians (transferred to Argentina by immigrants).



Speech is the concrete and daily manifestation of a language, its individual expression (the way each individual expresses himself), in social or cultural groups, regionally located, or differentiated generationally.

According to the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, speech would be the act of will and intelligence of the individual to put into practice the language system, through a particular variation of the language.

Speech becomes the most personal expression of the use of a language: through speech it is possible to determine which region of the world the speaking subject belongs to, social class, educational level, age and context in which he is expressing himself (family environment or work, recreational or institutional).

Speech characteristics

1-Individual character

It constitutes the individual expression of language, the direct way in which human beings communicate. Although socially determined, speech is an individual exercise. Speech is part of the language, and its collective variation can modify the language.

2-Personal manifestation

It is determined by personal characteristics (age, social condition, education, relationship), cultural, geographical, historical.


Speech can be affected by the context or situation in which communication takes place; It can be colloquial (with family, among friends), formal (at work, in institutional situations), or literary (at recitals or conferences).

4-Particular character

A language can have different dialect variations, and a dialect can have as many idiolects as speakers (each individual’s particular way of speaking).

5-Identity character

Speech is a more intimate identity factor than language, since it identifies the speaker with the interests, values ​​and customs of more closed groups.

6-You don’t need to know the rules

Although it is governed by the rules of the language, a speaker does not need to know them to exercise speech. However, unfamiliarity with the vocabulary and rules of a language can limit a speaker’s proficiency.

7-Relies on context

Speech is often supported by gestural language and facial expressiveness.


1-The voice

It is the result of the combination of the vocal cords with the passage of air and its adaptation to different movements and combinations between the tongue and the teeth. The oral cavity and the nostrils also play a fundamental role in voice emissions.


It is the way in which an individual articulates and expresses words.


The way the individual accentuates and modulates words and phrases. It is a trait that supports the sense of what is communicated, by giving an emotional nuance.


The rhythm or cadence of speech varies, among other aspects, according to the sociocultural and historical-geographical situation of the speaker.


The lexicon is the vocabulary. It has to do with the linguistic competence of the speaker and his mastery.

Generally, it is an expression of the speaker’s socioeconomic, educational and cultural level, although the same individual may display different lexicons in different contexts and situations.

Speech types

According to its use and purpose, speech can be:


When the speaker makes a statement about something or someone: “The sky is blue.”


When the individual agrees to take an action, or to fulfill an agreement: “I promise you that I will do it tomorrow.”


When the speech act implies some kind of order or directive: “Finish the job at once.”


Those acts of speech that imply a decision, verdict or imposition: “We have decided that from now on the departure time is at 16:30”.


Acts through which the speakers express a reflection or an emotional state: “I feel happy.”

Speech examples

Examples of speech are the dialect variations of Spanish: Mexican, Argentine, Andalusian, Extremaduran, Venezuelan; regional or urban variations, such as the porteño (Buenos Aires), the bogotano or the madrileño.

Other examples of speech are prison slang, youth languages, surfers’ slang, and generally street language. Any talk or conversation is a clear example of a speech exercise.

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