source:- http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/global-studies-and-languages/21g-034-media-education-and-the-marketplace-fall-2005/Language is essentially social and is probably not definable in terms of any individual psychological system. Language is a part of the culture of human communities that is shaped over historical time.The best way to understand phonemes, phonological patterns (and words too) is that they are social products created by a human community. A speaker community is a `complex adaptive system’ that creates over time a partially structured set of sound patterns for coordinating activity.
Individual speakers are exposed to many of these patterns and imitate them as best they can. . a speaker has no choice but to induce his own idiosyncratic auditory version of linguistic conventions, a lexicon, phrases, idioms, constructions, etc. Typically the speaker does not have clear intuitions about any of the actual linguistic units. Of course, those of us who are literate have a vivid orthographic model for a language based on the alphabet, a recently engineered technology. Ordinary speakers have no alphabet. While a language does have some roughly alphabet-like properties, alphabets provide a completely inadequate representation of language.But alphabetical writing is a technology which achieved roughly its modern form about 3000 years ago.One major consequence of the development of literacy in the middle east was the growth of the institution of schooling for teaching literacy to children.Alphabetical writing is certainly very useful, but letters are artifacts. It is difficult to learn to interpret letter sequences as syllables and syllables as letter sequences, so we start teaching children as young as possible.
Traditional View: Language as a mental code
The standard idea about language for at least the past century is that it consists of discrete sound units composed into discrete words which are, in turn, composed into sentences.