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Linguistics and Language

Linguistics and Language

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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.

Exploring the Evolution of Mind and Brain

Scholars have long been captivated by the parallels between birdsong and human speech and language. In this book, leading scholars draw on the latest research to explore what birdsong can tell us about the biology of human speech and language and the consequences for evolutionary biology.

Language and Evolution

We are born crying, but those cries signal the first stirring of language. Within a year or so, infants master the sound system of their language; a few years after that, they are engaging in conversations. This remarkable, species-specific ability to acquire any human language—“the language faculty”—raises important biological questions about language, including how it has evolved. This book by two distinguished scholars—a computer scientist and a linguist—addresses the enduring question of the evolution of language.

The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages

In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro describes an encounter between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the cognitive neurosciences. As a leading theoretical linguist in the generative tradition and also a neuroscientist, Moro is uniquely equipped to tell this story.

Essays on Language, Music, and Cognition in Honor of Ray Jackendoff

This volume offers new research in cognitive science by leading scholars, exploring different areas of cognition with an emphasis on language. The contributions—in such fields as linguistic theory, psycholinguistics, evolution, and consciousness—reflect the thriving interdisciplinary scholarship in cognitive science today. Ray Jackendoff’s pioneering cross-disciplinary work was instrumental in establishing the field, and Structures in the Mind, with contributions from Jackendoff’s colleagues and former students, is a testament to his lasting influence.

A Theory of Linguistic Computation and Storage

Language allows us to express and comprehend an unbounded number of thoughts. This fundamental and much-celebrated property is made possible by a division of labor between a large inventory of stored items (e.g., affixes, words, idioms) and a computational system that productively combines these stored units on the fly to create a potentially unlimited array of new expressions. A language learner must discover a language’s productive, reusable units and determine which computational processes can give rise to new expressions.

A Symptom or a Stage?

When children are late in hitting developmental milestones, parents worry. And no delay causes more parental anxiety than late talking, which is associated in many parents’ minds with such serious conditions as autism and severe intellectual disability. In fact, as children’s speech expert Stephen Camarata points out in this enlightening book, children are late in beginning to talk for a wide variety of reasons. For some children, late talking may be a symptom of other, more serious, problems; for many others, however, it may simply be a stage with no long-term complications.

How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language

Adults who want to learn a foreign language are often discouraged because they believe they cannot acquire a language as easily as children. Once they begin to learn a language, adults may be further discouraged when they find the methods used to teach children don’t seem to work for them. What is an adult language learner to do? In this book, Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz draw on insights from psychology and cognitive science to show that adults can master a foreign language if they bring to bear the skills and knowledge they have honed over a lifetime.

This book revives and reinterprets a persistent intuition running through much of the classical work: that the unitary appearance of Obligatory Control into complements conceals an underlying duality of structure and mechanism. Idan Landau argues that control complements divide into two types: In attitude contexts, control is established by logophoric anchoring, while non-attitude contexts it boils down to predication. The distinction is also syntactically represented: Logophoric complements are constructed as a second tier above predicative complements.

Language and Human Nature

Originally published in Italian in 2002, When the Word Becomes Flesh provides a compelling contribution to the understanding of language and its relation to human nature and social relationships. Adopting Aristotle’s definition of the human being as a linguistic and political animal, Paolo Virno frames the act of speech as a foundational philosophical issue—an act that in its purely performative essence ultimately determines our ability to pass from the state of possibility to one of actuality: that is, from the power to act to action itself.

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