What's the Difference Between Speech and Language?

what's the difference between speech and language?

Language is different from speech.

Language is a code made up of a group of rules that include:

·       What words mean

·       How to make new words (friend, friendly, unfriendly)

·       How to combine words together ("Peg walked to the new store." Not "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 got no results.)

When a person has difficulty understanding the language code, then there is a receptive problem. If a person does not know enough language rules to share thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely, then there is an expressive problem. One problem can exist without the other, but often they occur together in both children and adults.

The language code can be correct, but if the right body parts are not moved at the right time, then the message will not sound right. People who stutter, who have difficulty saying sounds clearly or correctly, or whose voices sound rough, hoarse or nasal all have speech problems.

In addition to speech and language problems, an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist can perform an evaluation of feeding and swallowing (dysphagia) and provide treatment if appropriate. Many medical specialists and other health care professionals may work together to evaluate and/or treat feeding and swallowing problems.

Adapted from ASHA 

Speech and Language Disorders
Information about select speech and language disorders from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Speech and Language Disorders in Schools
FAQ from ASHA regarding communication disorders in schools.

Communication Development from Kindergarten - 5th grade
Another page with ASHA about speech and language development in the elementary years.

Speech Referral Guidelines
This page is from ASHA and contains information about what might trigger a Speech-Language Evaluation.