This collection of articles and associated discussion papers focuses on a problem that has attracted increasing attention from linguists and psychologists throughout the world during the past several years. Reduced to essentials, the problem is that of discovering the character of the mental capacities that make it possible for human beings to attain knowledge of their language on the basis of fragmentary and haphazard early linguistic experience.
In the early 1960s, the bold project of the emerging field of cognition was to put the human mind under the scrutiny of rational inquiry, through the conjoined efforts of philosophy, linguistics, computer science, psychology, and neuroscience. Forty years later, cognitive science is a flourishing academic field. The contributions to this collection, written in honor of Jacques Mehler, a founder of the field of psycholinguistics, assess the progress of cognitive science. The questions addressed include: What have we learned or not learned about language, brain, and cognition?
Using sentence comprehension as a case study for all of cognitive science, David Townsend and Thomas Bever offer an integration of two major approaches, the symbolic-computational and the associative-connectionist. The symbolic-computational approach emphasizes the formal manipulation of symbols that underlies creative aspects of language behavior. The associative-connectionist approach captures the intuition that most behaviors consist of accumulated habits.
That children learn to speak so skillfully at a young age has long fascinated adults. Most children virtually master their native tongue even before learning to tie their shoelaces. The ability to acquire language has historically been regarded as a "gift"—a view given scientific foundation only in the present century by Noam Chomsky's theory of "universal grammar," which posits an innate knowledge of the principles that structure all languages.
When we speak, we mean more than we say. In this book Stephen C. Levinson explains some general processes that underlie presumptions in communication. This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades. Levinson outlines a theory of presumptive meanings, or preferred interpretations, governing the use of language, building on the idea of implicature developed by the philosopher H. P. Grice.
A machine for language? Certainly, say the neurophysiologists, busy studying the language specializations of the human brain and trying to identify their evolutionary antecedents. Linguists such as Noam Chomsky talk about machinelike "modules" in the brain for syntax, arguing that language is more an instinct (a complex behavior triggered by simple environmental stimuli) than an acquired skill like riding a bicycle.
The study of the relationship between natural language and spatial cognition has the potential to yield answers to vexing questions about the nature of the mind, language, and culture. The fifteen original contributions in Language and Space bring together the major lines of research and the most important theoretical viewpoints in the areas of psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience, providing a much needed synthesis across these diverse domains.Each chapter gives a clear up-to-date account of a particular research program.
Concepts: Core Readings traces the develoment of one of the most active areas of investigation in cognitive science. This comprehensive volume brings together the essential background readings from philosophy, psychology, and linguistics, while providing a broad sampling of contemporary research. The first part of the book centers around the fall of the Classical Theory of Concepts in the face of attacks by W. V. O. Quine, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor Rosch, and others, emphasizing the emergence and development of the Prototype Theory and the controversies it spurred.
This book highlights cutting-edge research relevant to the building of a computational model of reading comprehension, as in the processing and understanding of a natural language text or story. A distinguishing feature of the book is its emphasis on "real" understanding of "real" narrative texts rather than on syntactic parsing of single sentences taken out of context or on limited understanding of small, researcher-constructed stories.
The study of child language and, in particular, child syntax is a growing area of linguistic research, yet methodological issues often take a backseat to the findings and conclusions of specific studies in the field. This book is designed in part as a handbook to assist students and researchers in the choice and use of methods for investigating children's grammar. For example, a method (or combination of methods) can be chosen based on what is measured and who the target subject is.