Language and Thought

Language and Thought

Language and Thought

Language and Thought

Synopsis

This book fulfils the need for a clear overview of this area of cognitive psychology which encompasses both language and thought. Focusing on goal directed thinking and decision making, Nick Lund looks at the relationship between our grasp of language and our problem solving abilities.

Excerpt

This book, Language and Thought, is one of the Routledge Modular Psychology series that deals with cognitive psychology. There are many ways of describing cognitive psychology, but Solso (1998) defines it as 'the scientific study of the thinking mind' (p.2). Cognitive psychology therefore covers a wide variety of areas of research including perception, attention, memory, language and thought. Language and thought are central to all human activities since they are the medium of our mental and social lives. Language is used both to communicate with others and to monitor our internal thoughts, or, as Harley (2001, p.1) notes, 'in some form or another it so dominates our social and cognitive activity that it would be difficult to imagine what life would be without it'. Many people regard the ability to use language and rational thought as uniquely human qualities and believe it is these abilities that distinguish humans from other animals. For example Harley (2001, p.1) considers language to be 'an essential part of what it means to be human, and it is partly what sets us apart from other animals'. Similarly Garnham and Oakhill (1994, p.16) suggest 'the nature and complexity of our thought processes…appear to set people apart from other animals'. This book is therefore concerned with topics that lie at the heart of cognitive psychology and, possibly, humanity.

Human language is a complex skill that defies a simple definition. In addition it can take many forms and can be spoken, written or signed. One way to encompass the complexity of language is to identify a range of characteristics that describe its essential features. For example, Hockett (1960) described sixteen 'design characteristics' which he believed were essential for human language . . .

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