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Linguistics and Language

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Can there be such a thing as an impossible human language? A biologist could describe an impossible animal as one that goes against the physical laws of nature (entropy, for example, or gravity). Are there any such laws that constrain languages? In this book, Andrea Moro—a distinguished linguist and neuroscientist—investigates the possibility of impossible languages, searching, as he does so, for the indelible “fingerprint” of human language.

The Classics Explained

Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of language by explaining ten classic, often anthologized, texts.

In this book, Frank Guenther offers a comprehensive, unified account of the neural computations underlying speech production, with an emphasis on speech motor control rather than linguistic content. Guenther focuses on the brain mechanisms responsible for commanding the musculature of the vocal tract to produce articulations that result in an acoustic signal conveying a desired string of syllables.

Based on an introductory course on natural-language semantics, this book provides an introduction to type-logical grammar and the range of linguistic phenomena that can be handled in categorial grammar. It also contains a great deal of original work on categorial grammar and its application to natural-language semantics. The author chose the type-logical categorial grammar as his grammatical basis because of its broad syntactic coverage and its strong linkage of syntax and semantics.

An Essay on Metarepresentation

Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books."

Languages differ in the types of overt movement they display. For example, some languages (including English) require subjects to move to a preverbal position, while others (including Italian) allow subjects to remain postverbal. In its current form, Minimalism offers no real answer to the question of why these different types of movements are distributed among languages as they are.

A Study in Cognitive Science

To communicate, speakers need to make it clear what they are talking about. The act of referring, which anchors words to things, is a fundamental aspect of language. In this book, Kees van Deemter shows that computational models of reference offer attractive tools for capturing the complexity of referring.

The many philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists writing on metaphor over the past two decades have generally taken for granted that metaphor lies outside, if not in opposition to, received conceptions of semantics and grammar. Assuming that metaphor cannot be explained by or within semantics, they claim that metaphor has little, if anything, to teach us about semantic theory. In this book Josef Stern challenges these assumptions.

The Theta System

One of Tanya Reinhart’s major contributions to linguistic theory is the development of the Theta System (TS), a theory of the interface between the system of concepts and the linguistic computational system. Reinhart introduced her theory in a seminal paper, “The Theta System: Syntactic Realization of Verbal Concepts” (2000) and subsequently published other papers with further theoretical development. Although Reinhart continued to work on the Theta System, she had not completed a planned Linguistic Inquiry volume on the topic before her untimely death in 2007.

Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing

Language is a hallmark of the human species; the flexibility and unbounded expressivity of our linguistic abilities is unique in the biological world. In this book, Morten Christiansen and Nick Chater argue that to understand this astonishing phenomenon, we must consider how language is created: moment by moment, in the generation and understanding of individual utterances; year by year, as new language learners acquire language skills; and generation by generation, as languages change, split, and fuse through the processes of cultural evolution.

  • Page 3 of 31