Rules of language
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Language is typically said to be governed by a group of unspoken rules: phonological, semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, prosodic, and idiosyncratic. These rules shape the way language is written, spoken, and interpreted.
Phonological rules describe the systematic relationship between sounds. They are responsible for determining what a symbol, or letter of the alphabet, sounds like. For example, the "gh" in the word "cough" creates an "f" sound in that particular word, whereas the same two letters remain silent in the word "although."
Semantics is the relationship between symbols and the things they refer to. Semantic rules are the agreed-upon definitions of words. These rules are specific to each language and to each group of symbols in the language.
The word "syntax" means the study of the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences in a language. Therefore, syntactic rules are those rules used in communication to describe how things are organized or ordered. The order of words is very important. Without rules to govern how sentences are structured there would be no communication. In other words, there would be no understanding because there would be no common, basic form for everyone to rely on.
Pragmatic rules are those rules used in social communication. They depend on the context of the situation. Pragmatics may include using languages for different purposes, changing language so that everyone within a group understands, or following important social rules. Pragmatics are important because they consider key cultural and social rules that govern relationships. Along with this, they also consider relationships already formed between people, as well as the type of language used in such situations.
The prosodic rules of communication tell what rhythm, volume, pitch, tempo, and stress is to be used during a conversation. It relates to the paralanguage of communication, which is the nonverbal component of verbal communication. By shaping these qualities, a speaker reflects his or her emotional state, and can add more meaning or feeling to a message. When a speaker is speaking at a slow pace, low pitch, and soft volume, he or she most likely is in a calm, relaxed state. By speaking at a fast pace, high volume and pitch, and with extreme stress on words, a speaker is probably expressing anger.
The idiosyncratic rules of communication tell what type of words and language are to be used when speaking with people. Different word choice is adjusted due to the relationships between the communicators, the context of the conversation, the content of the conversation, and the cultural differences between the communicators. Jargon is a specialized language between certain people or professionals, and it is one example of how different words and language are used between people. Doctors or lawyers use jargon relating to their professions when communicating with other professionals, but adjust their word choices when speaking with patients or clients so they do not confuse or create misunderstandings.