Psychology: From the Standpoint of a Behaviorist

By John B. Watson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE GENESIS AND RETENTION OF EXPLICIT AND IMPLICIT LANGUAGE HABITS

Introduction. --In many of the preceding chapters we have made reference to explicit and implicit language habits. It remains now to examine these functions separately and with some care. Until language activity has been studied and connected up with the other functions we have by no means given a full account of how the human animal performs its various tasks. man is a social being and almost from birth language activity becomes a part of his every adjustment even though that adjustment be made to other than a social situation. Our previous study of instinct, emotion and habit cannot be considered coplete until we have given language its due place among those activities. The subject of explicit and implicit language processes and of other implicit but non-language processes connected with thinking is so vast and can be approached from so many angles and points of view that we can give only an extremely meagre account of its main features.

The Anatomical Basis of Language. --Throughout the text we have spoken of laryngeal processes as though they were reponsible for all language organization. This manner of speaking was chosen for brevity's sake. We hasten to add now that the anatomical basis of language habits involves, of course, the whole body but specifically the neuro-muscular system in the head, neck and chest segments. A little consideration will show that the following parts coöperate in every spoken word: the diaphragm, lungs and muscles of the thorax; the extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the larynx; the muscles of the pharynx, nose and palate; the checks, tongue and lips. The larynx as such when considered merely as a mechanism for controlling the vocal cords is the least important part of the system. It is quite important, of course, as a means of speaking aloud, but relatively unimportant from the standpoint of the functioning of the indi-

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