The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure

The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure

The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure

The New Psychology of Language: Cognitive and Functional Approaches to Language Structure

Synopsis

This book gathers the theories of leading cognitive and functional linguists in one place for cognitive scientists--particularly psychologists--long accustomed to the philosophical divide between themselves and formal linguists. For students & researcher

Excerpt

The attitude of psychologists toward linguistics has been problematic from the beginning. The titular founder of scientific psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, divided psychological phenomena into two types: those that could be measured and quantified in the laboratory (e.g., perceptual discriminations, behavioral reactions, etc.) and those that were culturally constituted and so best studied in their natural sociohistorical contexts. Wundt (1900-1909) called the study of these culturally constituted phenomena Völkerpsychologie, and he began his treatment of the subject with the most interesting of all cultural artifacts, language. Wundt's colleagues and immediate successors, however, were especially intrigued by the new laboratory methods, and so "The attitude favored by most of [psychology's] founding fathers was one of simple neglect. Other mental processes were given higher priority and language was left to the professional linguists" (Miller, 1990, p. 9). The situation did not improve in the 20th century as the behaviorists continued to ignore language--or else applied to it their special brand of nothing buttery (language is nothing but behavior; e.g., Skinner, 1957) to notoriously bad effect (Chomsky, 1959).

And so it was with Chomsky (1957, 1959) that the modern era began. As is well known, Chomskian linguistics was a central part of the Cognitive Revolution of the 1960s, and the fields of psycholinguistics, as first studied by George Miller and colleagues, and of developmental psycholinguistics, as first studied by Roger Brown and colleagues, were essentially founded on the Chomskian paradigm. But the honeymoon was over quickly as . . .

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