Palermo, David S. Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
- Evolution and biological bases of language
- Sound system of language
- Syntax of language
- Meaning of language
- Language acquisition
- Additional Readings
An area of study which draws from linguistics and psychology and focuses upon the comprehension and production of language in its spoken, written, and signed forms. Although psychologists have long been interested in language, and the field of linguistics is an older science than psychology, historically scientists in the two fields have had little contact. The two fields were thrown together, however, by the publications of Noam Chomsky in the late 1950s. Chomsky's writing had the effect of making psychologists acutely aware of their lack of knowledge about the structure of language, and the futility of focusing theoretical and research attention upon the surface structure of language while arguing that linguistics is as much concerned with the mind as psychologists should be. Psychologists, in turn, made linguists more aware of the larger cognitive context into which language fits as well as a broader set of methodological approaches available to scientifically test hypotheses about language. As a result, psycholinguists, who have a background of training in both linguistics and psychology, have been attempting since the early 1960s to gain a better understanding of the abstract rules which underlie human language and how they are acquired, used to communicate meaningful messages, and influenced by the biological and psychological context in which they occur. Research has been directed to the evolutionary development of language, the biological bases of language, the nature of the sound system, the rules of syntax, the nature of meaning, and the process of language acquisition. See also: Linguistics
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