Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives

By George A. Miller | Go to book overview

2 PSYCHOLOGY AND THE THEORY OF LANGUAGE

Samuel Jay Keyser

A friend of mine likes to start the first lecture of his introductory course in linguistics by demonstrating a talking doll. When you pull a string in its back, the doll says things like, "Hello. My name is Sandy," or "I want to play. Don't you?" Whenever you pull the string, the doll begins a new sentence; it never starts in the middle, even if you only pull the string out part way. There is no strict sequence of sentences. Their number is very small, perhaps ten or so, and the order in which they are heard is random.

Suppose we ask the question: How is the doll able to talk? From the brief description just given, it would not be easy to answer this question. Several possible answers might come to mind and it is very possible that the one crucial clue to help us choose between answers will never occur.

The talking doll problem is very much like the talking human problem. Linguists and psychologists try to figure out how people talk. They must do so without looking inside. For one thing, if they could look inside the human brain safely, it is not clear what they could learn by looking. Instead, researchers listen to what people do when they speak and try to make intelligent guesses about the inside organization on the basis of what happens on the outside.

My friend considers the talking doll to be a practical demonstration that determining how people speak is impossible since the problem cannot be solved even for a doll.

Yet linguists and psychologists think that there might be a solution to the problem of what people do when they speak and

-13-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Communication, Language, and Meaning: Psychological Perspectives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 304

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.