Speech Pathology: The Study of Linguistics

As a Speech Pathology student my very first subject was that of Linguistics.
I am very pleased that it was because this very important subject and area of research and study, forms the basis of speech and language function. It gave the student a firm and meaningful base to study and made sense of our course.
Linguistics is the study of natural language. It encompasses both the structural aspects of grammar and the study of meaning. It encompasses a number of subfields.
These are:

  • Phonology: The study of sound systems and abstract sound units
  • Phonetics: The study of the physical properties of speech sounds, non speech sounds and how they are produced and perceived
  • Morphology: The study of the formation, composition and internal structure of words and how they can be modified
  • Syntax: The rules that determine how words combine into phrases and sentences
  • Semantics: The study of the meaning of words and fixed word combinations
  • Pragmatics: the study of how speech is used in conversation and the role played by context and non linguistic knowledge and behaviour in the transmission of meaning

The study of Linguistics has grown significantly over the years. Associated fields of study and relevance include Psychology, Computer Sciences, Biology, Neuroscience, Sociology, Anthropology and Acoustics. Subsequently, specific fields of research and study now include:

  • Applied linguistics: The study of language in everyday usage including policy, planning and education
  • Developmental linguistics; The study of linguistics in the acquisition of early childhood language
  • Neurolinguistics: The study of the structures of the brain that are responsible for communication
  • Sociolinguistics: The study of variations in language and its relationships with social interactive factors

As a Speech Pathologist it is the area of Clinical linguistics that has specific relevance.
The clinical application of linguistic theory to appreciate and understand fully the speech or language disorder that is presenting. The language delayed or disordered child that needs assessment and therapeutic intervention, through to the head injured adult that has reduced comprehension, information processing and expressive language function.
Linguistics makes sense of the world of communication.

Mr Craig Gorman
Speech Pathologist
Melbourne Speech Clinics

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