psycholinguistics, the study of psychological states and mental activity associated with the use of language. An important focus of psycholinguistics is the largely unconscious application of grammatical rules that enable people to produce and comprehend intelligible sentences. Psycholinguists investigate the relationship between language and thought, a perennial subject of debate being whether language is a function of thinking or thought a function of the use of language. However, most problems in psycholinguistics are more concrete, involving the study of linguistic performance and language acquisition, especially in children. The work of Noam Chomsky and other proponents of transformational grammar have had a marked influence on the field. Neurolinguists study the brain activity involved in language use, obtaining much of their data from people whose ability to use language has been impaired due to brain damage.

See D. Foss and D. Hakes, Psycholinguistics (1978); V. C. Tartter, Language Processes (1986); A. Radford, Syntactic Theory and the Acquisition of English Syntax (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2016, The Columbia University Press.

Psycholinguistics: Selected full-text books and articles

Psycholinguistic Research: Implications and Applications By Doris Aaronson; Robert W. Rieber Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1979
The Psychology of Language: From Data to Theory By Trevor A. Harley Psychology Press, 2001 (2nd edition)
Perspectives on Sentence Processing By Charles Clifton Jr.; Lyn Frazier; Keith Rayner Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Foreign Language Learning: Psycholinguistic Studies on Training and Retention By Alice F. Healy; Lyle E. Bourne Jr Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.