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Ray S. Jackendoff

Ray Jackendoff is Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of many books, including Foundations of Language.

Titles by This Author

Essays on Mental Structure

Ray Jackendoff's Language, Consciousness, Culture represents a breakthrough in developing an integrated theory of human cognition. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of cognitive scientists, including linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.


Over the past twenty-five years, Ray Jackendoff has investigated many complex issues in syntax, semantics, and the relation of language to other cognitive domains. He steps back in this new book to survey the broader theoretical landscape in linguistics, in an attempt to identify some of the sources of the widely perceived malaise with respect to much current theorizing.

This book explores the relationships between language, music, and the brain by pursuing four key themes and the crosstalk among them: song and dance as a bridge between music and language; multiple levels of structure from brain to behavior to culture; the semantics of internal and external worlds and the role of emotion; and the evolution and development of language. The book offers specially commissioned expositions of current research accessible both to experts across disciplines and to non-experts.

This work, which has become a classic in music theory since its publication in 1983, models music understanding from the perspective of cognitive science. The point of departure is a search for a grammar of music with the aid of generative linguistics. The theory, which is illustrated with numerous examples from Western classical music, relates the aural surface of a piece to the musical structure unconsciously inferred by the experienced listener.

Essays on Mental Representation

Over the past two decades, Ray Jackendoff has persistently tackled difficult issues in the theory of mind and related theories of cognitive processing. Chief among his contributions is a formal theory that elaborates the nature of language and its relationship to a broad set of other domains.

Semantic Structures is a large-scale study of conceptual structure and its lexical and syntactic expression in English that builds on the theory of Conceptual Semantics described in Ray Jackendoff's earlier books Semantics and Cognition and Consciousness and the Computational Mind.

In Consciousness and the Computational Mind, Ray Jackendoff probes one of the fundamental issues in cognitive psychology: How does our conscious experience come to be the way it is? In so doing, he develops an overview of the mental representations invoked by the language, visual, and musical faculties, and describes how they are used in perception, production, imagery, and thought.

This book emphasizes the role of semantics as a bridge between the theory of language and the theories of other cognitive capacities such as visual perception and motor control. It develops the position that the study of semantics of natural language is the study of the structure of thought, and that grammatical structure offers a much more important source of evidence for the theory of cognition than is often supposed by linguists, philosophers, psychologists, or computer scientists.

Like other recent work in the field of generative-transformational grammar, this book developed from a realization that many problems in linguistics involve semantics too deeply to be solved insightfully within the syntactic theory of Noam Chomsky's Aspect of the Theory of Syntax. Dr Jackendoff has attempted to take a broader view of semantics, studying the important contribution it makes to the syntactic patterns of English.

Titles by This Editor

This wide-ranging collection of essays is inspired by the memory of the cognitive psychologist John Macnamara, whose influential contributions to language and concept acquisition have provided the basis for numerous research programs. The areas covered by the essays include the foundations of language and thought, congnitive and linguistic development, and mathematical approaches to cognition.