NPM : 10211210060
Class : 3C-1
Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the human brain functioned. Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, linguistics, and information theory to study how the brain processes language. There are a number of subdisciplines with non-invasive techniques for studying the neurological workings of the brain; for example, neurolinguistics has become a field in its own right.
One question in the realm of language comprehension is how people understand sentences as they read (also known as sentence processing). Experimental research has spawned a number of theories about the architecture and mechanisms of sentence comprehension. Typically these theories are concerned with what types of information contained in the sentence the reader can use to build meaning, and at what point in reading does that information become available to the reader. Issues such as "modular" versus "interactive" processing have been theoretical divides in the field.
A modular view of sentence processing assumes that the stages involved in reading a sentence function independently in separate modules. These modulates have limited interaction with one another. For example, one influential theory of sentence processing, the garden-path theory, states that syntactic analysis takes place first. Under this theory as the reader is reading a sentence, he or she creates the simplest structure possible in order to minimize effort and cognitive load. This is done without any input from semantic analysis or context-dependent information. Hence, in the sentence "The evidence examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable," by the time the reader gets to the word "examined" he or she has committed to a reading of the sentence in which the evidence is examining something because it is the simplest parse. This commitment is made despite the fact that it results in an implausible situation; we know that experience that evidence can rarely if ever examine something. Under this "syntax first" theory, semantic information is processed at a later stage. It is only later that the reader will recognize that her or she needs to revise the initial parse into one in which "the evidence" is being examined. In this example, readers typically recognize their misparse by the time they reach "by the lawyer" and must go back and re-parse the sentence. This reanalysis is costly and contributes to slower reading times.
In contrast to a modular account, an interactive theory of sentence processing, such as a constraint-based lexical approach assumes that all available information contained within a sentence can be processed at any time. Under an interactive account, for example, the semantics of a sentence (such as plausibility) can come into play early on in order to help determine the structure of a sentence. Hence, in the sentence above, the reader would be able to make use of plausibility information in order to assume that "the evidence" is being examined instead of doing the examining. There are data to support both modular and interactive accounts; which account is the correct one is still up for debate.
Psycholinguistics is an interdisciplinary field. Hence, it is studied by researchers from a variety of different backgrounds, such as psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, and speech and language pathology. Psycholinguists study many different topics, but these topics can generally be divided into answering the following questions: (1) how do children acquire language (language acquisition)?; (2) how do people process and comprehend language (language comprehension)?; (3) how do people produce language (language production)?; and (4) how do adults acquire a new language (second language acquisition)?
Subdivisions in psycholinguistics are also made based on the different components that make up human language.
- Phonetics and phonology
- Semantics deals with the meaning of words and sentences.
A researcher interested in language comprehension may study word recognition during reading to examine the processes involved in the extraction of orthographic, morphological, phonological, and semantic information from patterns in printed text. A researcher interested in language production might study how words are prepared to be spoken starting from the conceptual or semantic level. Developmental psycholinguistics study infants' and children's ability to learn and process language.
Contraductory of Language acquisition
There are essentially two schools of thought as to how children acquire or learn language, and there is still much debate as to which theory is the correct one. The first theory states that all language must be learned by the child. The second view states that the abstract system of language cannot be learned, but that humans possess an innate language faculty, or an access to what has been called universal grammar. The view that language must be learned was especially popular before 1960 and is well represented by the mentalistic theories of Jean Piaget and the empiricist Rudolf Carnap. Likewise, the school of psychology known as behaviorism (see Verbal Behavior (1957) by B.F. Skinner) puts forth the point of view that language is a behavior shaped by conditioned response, hence it is learned.
Psycholinguistics covers the cognitive processes that make it possible to generate a grammatical and meaningful sentence out of vocabulary and grammatical structures, as well as the processes that make it possible to understand utterances, words, text, etc. Developmental psycholinguistics studies children's ability to learn language.