The question therefore is what sets the human language apart from another How is human language defined Moreover, with so many diverse languages known in the world (associated with country, race and culture), can human language actually be characterized as a whole to represent the vast array of languages used by all sorts of people The answer to this, of course, is yes and the unifying elements that weave all these languages into a universal method for communication are the properties of human language that are common to all. These will be detailed in the succeeding section.
The other aspect of human language that this paper intends to explore is how people understand the spoken language or speech. It is widely known that humans begin to learn to speak during the early childhood years. As such, what are the processes and elements involved in learning and understanding speech Are these the same for everybody To answer these questions, an overview of speech comprehension shall be provided in the following sections of this article.
Speech development generally occurs during the first two years of a child's growth. At the first stage, the infant produces his/her first sounds in the form of cries, vocal grunts and cooing. These are said to be phonetically indicative of the ug, ng or ungh sounds. Studies have shown that the consonant sounds are developed earliest, in particular the consonant h (Goodenough & Tyler, 1959). The infant then progresses to the stage wherein he/she utters single syllables repeatedly such as "da-da-da" or "ngee-ngee-ngee". At first, these utterances are used by the infant to amuse itself. Later on or during the third stage, these utterances already become useful for social interaction with the parents or whoever is considered as the care giver. At the fourth stage, which occurs during the second half of the first year, the infant learns to combine these mono-syllables to two or more different syllables to form a more complex word. Thus to give an example., the "da-da-da" becomes "daddle-daddle-daddle". This is the last period before true speech is actually produced. The infant then proceeds to learn how to select specific sound-combinations out of the wide variety of utterances that it has produced and to apply these sound-combinations to particular situations in which he has heard others use them (Goodenough & Tyler, 1959).
Understanding spoken language connotes a processing level by which meaning is derived from the combination of words and sounds that form sentence structures. Before this happens, however, several other operations occur that eventually lead to meaning attribution. One of these operations is called Semantic Processing which concerns working out what words and sentences mean (Harley, 2001). Syntactic operation, on the other hand, pertains to the recognition of how words are organized within a sentence (i.e., their relationships, how they are transformed by inflections or affixes, etc.) so that the order of the words becomes meaningful. The phonological process, which is the third set of operations, involves the transformation of the message into sounds uttered as speech through the use of the articulatory mechanisms - the tongue,