The 3 units of language: Phonemes, syllables and morphemes
These rules determine how words may be combined into sentences. Syntax is the part of the grammar that has to do with the arrangement of words to form phrases and sentences. Languages differ in their syntactic structures. In English, word order is important to convey meaning. The syntax of English Language gives a different meaning to these two sentences – “The Dog bit the Man” and “The Man bit the Dog”. In attempting to understand the syntactic structure it is necessary to establish the different form of classes or parts of speech for that language.
Units of Language –
A phone is a speech sound. A phoneme is the smallest sound unit in a language that distinguishes meaning. The sounds comprising phonemes are perceived as belonging together as a category of sounds. Language differs in their groupings of phones into phonemes. Every language has different set of phonemes which adds to the difficulty in learning new language. Every language has Phonemic rules that specify which combinations of sounds can qualify as words.
Phonemes are not the units of speech perception because people never hear them, one at a time. What we hear is 2 or 3 phonemes combined into a SYLLABLE. Hence syllable is the smallest unit of speech perception.
It is a smallest unit of speech perception that has a meaning. Thus morphemes are the language units that consist of phonemes and convey meaning. Morpheme may consist of words or part of words, for example, light, house, red, and book are morphemes.