Language, Mind and Brain

cover art
272 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781589010475 (1589010477)

October 2004
LC: 2004016797
Sales Rights: Only for sale in U.S. and Canada


Table of Contents

Author's Website

Language, Mind and Brain
Some Psychological and Neurological Constraints on Theories of Grammar
Ewa Dabrowska

Language, Mind and Brain is a delightfully readable, yet erudite exploration of how the human mind processes and orders sounds and words into meaning. It explores how properties of the human mind/brain constrain linguistic structure and how linguistics can benefit by combining traditional linguistic methodologies with insights from research on language acquisition, processing, and impairment. The first part of the book offers a useful introduction to the relevant issues for readers with little prior knowledge of these disciplines; part two addresses such key issues as the status of rules, the relationship between grammar and the lexicon, and the relationship between innate structure and acquired knowledge. Fascinating for anyone interested in the intricacies of how language is acquired and how the brain sorts sounds into communication.

Ewa Dabrowska is a senior lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.

"This well-informed, comprehensive book takes a fresh look at long-standing issues within psycholinguistics. And it is so well-written that it often reads more like a novel than a textbook."—Adele E. Goldberg, professor of linguistics, Princeton University

"A wonderful book and real rarity: a scholarly treatise on language that is also accessible for even beginning-level students. I know of no book that does a better job of exploring and even celebrating the many unique aspects of language, while at the same time highlighting its many deep connections with other domains of human cognition."—Michael Tomasello, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction

Part I: The Basic Specifications

Chapter 2: Language Processing: Speed and Flexibility
1. The Complexity of the Task
2. Speed
3. Processing Shortcuts
4. Implications for Linguistic Theory

Chapter 3: Language Acquisition: Robustness
1. Individual Differences
2. The Role of Input
3. Language Development in Blind Children
4. The Robustness of Language

Chapter 4: Language in the Brain
1. The Localisation Issue
2. Preservation of Grammatical Knowledge in Brosca's Aphasia
3. The Co-occurrence of Lexical and Grammatical Deficits
4. The Resilience of Language

Chapter 5: Language and Other Cognitive Processes
1. A Genetically Specified Language Module?
2. Human Adaptations to Language
3. Language Adaptations to Humans
4. Universal Grammar Again
5. Conclusion

Part II: The Building Blocks of Language

Chapter 7: Words
1. The Semantics of Locative Terms
2. The Acquisition of Locative Terms
3. Innate Structure, yes—but of What Kind?
4. Lexical Learning in a Constrained Connectionist Network
5. Conclusion

Chapter 8: On Rules and Regularity
1. Words and Rules
2. The Connectionist Bombshell
3. The Linguists Strike Back
4. The Dual-Mechanism Model
5. The German Plural: A Minority Default?
6. An Inflectional System Without a Default: The Polish Genitive
7. The Final Test Case: The Polish Dative
8. Interim Conclusions
9. Challenges for Connectionism

Chapter 9: Syntactic Constructions
1. Ties between Lexical and Grammatical Knowledge
2. Multi-word Units in Acquisition
3. A Case Study: Questions

Chapter 10: The Cognitive Enterprise
1. Towards a Psychologically Realistic Grammar
2. A Crash Course in Cognitive Grammar
3. Language Production in a CG Framework
4. A Cognitive View of Language Acquisition
5. More on Regularity
6. Future Directions