Speech delay, also known as alalia, refers to a delay in the development or use of the mechanisms that produce speech. Speech, as distinct from language, refers to the actual process of making sounds, using such organs and structures as the lungs, vocal cords, mouth, tongue, teeth, etc. Language delay refers to a delay in the development or use of the knowledge of language.
Because language and speech are two independent stages, they may be individually delayed. For example, a child may be delayed in speech (i.e., unable to produce intelligible speech sounds), but not delayed in language. In this case, the child would be attempting to produce an age appropriate amount of language, but that language would be difficult or impossible to understand. Conversely, since a child with a language delay typically has not yet had the opportunity to produce speech sounds, it is likely to have a delay in speech as well.