Concept of Precedence

The concept of precedence describes something that came before something else, or something that has a higher priority than something else. In language, the ability to determine precedence among sounds is crucial for understanding speech. Listeners must be able to precisely identify which sounds came first from a speaker in order to determine what words were being spoken. Researchers studied the link between perception of precedence and understanding of language by testing participants’ ability to determine the order of two different tones with varying time differences.

Merging of Phonemes

All words in all languages are formed by the merging of phonemes, or the basic units of sound in a language. When phonemes merge together, their basic sounds may be altered to improve the flow and ease of speech, both within words and between subsequent words. The ways words are pronounced usually arise from specific rules regarding the ways phonemes are spoken and merged with each other.


In language, there are particular words and phrases used to refer to entities as a whole, as well as those used to refer to specific parts of those entities. Partonymy refers to the speech used to describe parts of a whole, such as using the words "hand" and "foot" when discussing the human body.

Inevitability of Phonemic Change

Languages consistently change and evolve over time, potentially developing into new languages distinct from the originals. Historical linguists are sure that languages evolve, but have found it difficult to formulate general principles regarding how a language’s unique sounds change over time. Besides the addition of new words to the vernacular, the most common way languages evolve is through subtle, though noticeable, changes to phonemes.

Phonemic System

Phonemic systems are found in all languages, acting as the foundation for all “higher order linguistic structures which make up the complete language system.” Users of a language hold in their minds a considerable amount of information regarding their phonemic systems, including the complete inventory of phonemic units, the rules governing the combination of phonemes, and the sounds and articulations associated with each phoneme.

Development of Phonemic System

To speak a language, one must understand the units that make up the sounds of speech, known as phonemes. The usage of phonemes and syllables in writing systems was a late development in the history of written language. The alphabetic system, which requires abstraction of phonemes, was the last facet of language to appear, making the segmentation of phonemes more difficult than the segmentation of syllables.

Expression of Inner States

Human beings have a fundamental need to express their inner states, including their beliefs, judgments, and feelings. The ability to understand the sentiments of other individuals is an "essential ingredient of human social life," as it allows people to form emotional connections based on their beliefs and feelings.

Misleading Language

The misinterpretation of language can be a result of many things, including confusing speech on the part of the speaker or a misunderstanding on the part of the listener. Any misinterpretation can cause the listener to develop a false awareness of a situation. Likewise, speakers may utilize certain words or phrases that are unclear or ambiguous, causing listeners to draw incorrect conclusions. Because of this, it is important to study how different words and forms of speech can alter the effectiveness of communication.


In linguistics, numerals are a class of words that are used to represent numbers (for example, the word “six”). Numerals can be seen as symbols of language that exhibit forms specific to the language to which they belong. However, like language in general, numeral systems as a whole carry many similarities between different languages, likely due to the innate faculties of the human mind. Cross-linguistics studies have shown that numerals and “the order of the elements in numeral phrases” display “a high level of generalizations and regularity” between multiple languages.

Poetic Meter

In poetry, the meter is a set of rules and conditions that govern the rhythm of the lines and verses in the poem. “The defining feature of metrical poetry is that it involves restrictions on line length,” to ensure that the poem flows smoothly from line to line. Researchers who study poetry attempt to present “a unified account of the meters used in the world’s poetic traditions” by observing “the various ways in which lines are measured and patterned in the world’s poetic traditions”.


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