The Major Components of the English Language

Even though there are difference that might exist between languages, there is something common about all languages and that is they all operate within a set of forms. English, like many other languages is composed of phonology, morphology, and syntax components.

Phonology is concerned with sounds which are systematically structured. This component might be considered as one of the important components in any language since it is considered as the initial cornerstone of any civilization. In most societies, it is well known that speech is a common form of human communication (We must assume a period of many thousands of years when speech was the only form of language, before the development of writing at the dawn of recorded history) (R.H . Robins, General Linguistics: An introductory Survey).

Phonology is basically divided into two major features, segmental features which consist of vowels and consonants; they also consist of supra-segmental aspects such as stress, rhythm, intonation, and pause. The English consonants are 24; however the number does not represent the English alphabet, as they are produced orally. It should also be noted that all existing languages have an infinite number of phones which are universal. However, unlike phonemes which are relative to individual languages, each language has its own groups of sounds. Therefore, a phoneme can be considered as a contrastive unit since it distinguishes meanings when exchanged with other phonemes. For example, in English, the /p/ and /b/ are contrastive phonemes; though, for English language learners of Arabic background, these letters are non-contrastive.

On the other hand, morphology is about the structure, language and sentence formation. As we noticed that sounds are considered one of the basic essentials of language. Sounds are combined together to condense morphemes. A morpheme is basically known as a unit in a language that consists the meaning. Therefore, there are two types of morphemes, free morphemes, and bound morphemes. For example, the word dog is considered as a free morpheme; in other words, a word that can stand by itself. However, the word dogs consists of two morphemes: a free morpheme (dog) and a bound morpheme (s). (Another general point to be made about morphemes is that, although they are the parts out of which words are composed, they do not have to be of any particular length. Some relatively long words, such as catamaran and knickerbocker, may consist of just one morpheme; on the other hand, a single-syllable word, such as tenths, may contain as many as three morphemes (ten,-th,-s) ). (An Introduction to English Morphology: Words and Their Structure, Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy).

As for Syntax is about the structure of the language. It includes the logical or the grammatical components of sentences, instead of what they mean. For example, one important aspect which influences language structure is the order of words in a sentence. In poetry for instance, you can say “I cannot come” to convey that you are not able to join. However, if you want to emphasize this denial even stronger, you could say “Come I cannot” which makes the sentence a lot stronger and more emphasis on the inability to come.

One the other hand, semantics is more about the meaning of words and sentences. Semantics, as such, are concerned with how various words form to deliver a certain meaning within a sentence. For instance, there are many synonyms for the word “young” and that includes colt, piglet, baby, puppy or even a kitten. Each one of them describes a different language semantics and is used in various contexts. As such, semantics is quite important in language.


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