Language production in psycholinguistics Speech and language problems

Language Production

The ability to speak is a distinctive and enigmatic characteristic of the human species. Despite this, since the analysis of the principles that govern speech constitutes an essential component of linguistic activity, the production of language has been a little-known process. In this article we will describe you Language production in psycholinguistics.

 The reason is the difficulty of using experimental methods. Thus, the researcher addresses a process that is only observable in the last phase. It cannot control variables of influence in the input (ideas, beliefs, etc.), nor restrict types of response to the subject, without limiting the validity of its conclusions. In any case, there is an output (the chain of sounds that make up speech) that is observable and measurable.

Characterization of the three types of process that intervene in the production of language

Psychological / cognitive: (horizontal mental faculties)

During speech activity, subjects must select the content of their messages from representations activated in their memory, that is, attentional, motivational, and mnestic processes of a general and non-specific nature of the domain. At the same time, the selection of a representation as the content of a linguistic message implies performing certain mental operations on the representation.


When subjects communicate through language, they use combinations of linguistic signs that can be interpreted by their interlocutors, that is, they construct meaningful and grammatically acceptable sentences and not random series of words.

Communicative / instrumental

Speech is also an instrumental activity since the subjects emit the linguistic forms that they consider most effective at each moment of social interaction or communicative process, with social repercussions, which is influenced by pragmatic factors such as communicative objectives and intentions of the speaker, the social context where it occurs, the interlocutors’ knowledge about himself, etc.

Phases or generic stages of language production. Characterization of each one. Levelt’s model

Levelt proposes a cognitive model of the production process. According to him, three phases or processing components are distinguished
  1. Planning or conceptualization phase: subjects select the communicative content of their message. These are activities of an intentional nature, although not necessarily conscious. The result is the development of an information package called a prelinguistic message. This phase occurs in the conceptualizer.
  2. Linguistic coding or formulation phase: the prelinguistic message is translated into a linguistic format. It involves the use of language and grammar. It requires the progressive specification of the structural units (phrases, words, etc.) that will intervene in the locution until configuring the phonetic plan or representation of the ordered series of linguistic units that make up the sentence. The result of this phase is the phonetic plan or internal speech.
  3. Peripheral processes or articulation: not necessary for internal language. The linguistic representations that make up the phonetic plan are translated into a code or motor plan that sets in motion the sequence of movements of the muscular structures involved in the production of language. The motor performance of these acts is called speech production.

Difference between language production and speech production

The production of speech refers to the execution of the motor plan or sequence of movements of the muscular structures involved in the articulation of sounds, while the production of language implies the production of speech, plus the conceptualization and formulation phases.

Speech and language problems: what is the difference between them?

Let’s talk a little about the differences between the two:

Speech is a motor act, the air leaves the lungs, passes through the larynx, passes through the vocal cords, and the mouth articulation emits the words. There are pathologies that specifically affect speech.

Language, on the other hand, is not talking, it is when we know that things have a name and a meaning and, when we put the two together, they become a word. A set of semantic unit of a text. In other words structured by grammar forms a linguistic system.

Language has several domains, including:

phonology, which are the sounds that make up the word;

– the morphology where the semantic unit of a text. In other words respect each language;

– the syntax where semantic unit of a text. In other words are articulated together and form sentences;

– the semantics and pragmatics that concern meaning, the social use of language, speaking the right content for that moment.

In speech disorders we can mention apraxia of speech in childhood, which is a neurological motor disorder in which the brain is unable to correctly plan the movements necessary to produce semantic unit of a text. In other words.

In terms of language alterations, we have TDL (Language Development Disorder), where the child cannot understand, having an innate difficulty in learning and producing language, and it will take time to speak and understand.

Another example of language alteration is in autism. In this case, there is difficulty in language and consequently in speech, due to a comorbidity (association of at least two pathologies in the same patient). In these cases, we can have a percentage of cases that, in addition to language, have associated speech apraxia.

An individual who has already acquired language and for some reason loses the ability to speak may have his language intact, as this system is already built. However, the child is learning, and this learning takes place in use. We cannot learn just by listening, we have to produce in order to learn, so the child with speech difficulties will have a consequent level of language difficulty, until he is able to make better use of this speech.

When we talk about speech and language we are talking about disorders of what comes out, but if the problem is auditory or the input of stimuli is not adequate, it will be an input problem.

The development of language implies the full acquisition of the linguistic system that allows us to be inserted in the social environment, the possibility of assuming our identity, in addition to the development of the cognitive aspects already described above.

Among all the complex issues that involve this process, the “simple” delay in language acquisition makes it difficult to mature and experiment with the language necessary for the formal acquisition of reading/writing. Your linguistic immaturity will be reflected in reduced vocabulary and limited knowledge of the world. This fact will have repercussions on the interpretation of texts and the elaboration of written stories.

Failures in phonological acquisition and development, such as problems in the production of speech sounds or their discrimination, may reflect on reading and/or writing. They can lead the child, for example, to change, omit or transpose phonemes or graphemes. The child would take time to acquire the autonomy of the reading and writing processes or they could culminate in even greater problems.

The semantic-pragmatic changes are associated with the rigidity of thoughts and little flexibility in reasoning, the difficulty in attributing meaning beyond the literal, associating semantic unit of a text. In other words with their meaning and understanding spoken language. In this way, learning is not generalized and ends up compromised.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to top button