Chapter Title/Book Title
Speech (Building Blocks)
Essays in Developmental Psychology
Randall Summers, Charles Golden, Lisa Lashley, & Erica Ailes
Download Full Text
The building blocks of language begin with the smallest distinguishable unit, the phoneme, and grow in complexity to convey meaning within a specific social context. The study of meaning is known as semantics. According to Kellogg (2003), the goal of semantic theories is to explain how individuals form mental representations of words and thus derive meaning from them. The smallest distinguishable unit of speech is the phoneme. A phoneme is essentially a unique speech sound, or phonological segment, that can alter the meaning of a word. For instance, if you examine the words “pat” and “cat” you will notice that the difference in meaning for each word is determined by the initial phoneme. The brain must be able to process these subtle differences in spoken language very quickly, as the typical rate of speech production involves approximately 12 phonological segments per second (Fodor, 1983).
language acquisition, meaning, mental representations, phoneme, semantics, social context, speech
Lashley, L. K.,
Golden, C. J.
(2020). Speech (Building Blocks). Essays in Developmental Psychology.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cps_facbooks/741