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Our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning.


In a language, the smallest distinctive sound unit.


In a language, the smallest unit that carries meaning; may be a word or a part of a word (such as a prefix)


In a language, a system of rules that enables us to communicate with and understand others.


The set of rules by which we derive meaning from morphemes, words, and sentences in a given language; also, the study of meaning.


The rules for combing words into grammatically sensible sentences in a given language

Babbling Stage

Beginning at about 4 months, the stage of speech development in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language.

One-Word Stage

The stage in speech development, from about age 1 to 2 during which a child speaks mostly in single words.

Two-Word Stage

Beginning about age 2, the stage in speech development during which a child speaks mostly two-word statements.

Telegraphic Speech

Early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegram - "go car" - using mostly nouns and verbs and omitting auxiliary words.

Linguistic Determinism

Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think.

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