Psychology of Language:
The Psychology of Language 3 edition by Trevor Harley
Psychology of Language is an empirical fielda lot of experiments are being performed,
and therefore the truth is constantly a moving target… what are the open ended questions
that we have and how to we conduct different research to answer these questions. Many of
the questions here do not have a specific answer.
• 2 midterms and 1 cumulative final.
Optional Paper 1:
You go to the primary source of linguistics, you chose a paper and you read it and then you
think of the study that would be conducted after.
Optional Paper 2:
Pick a book, read the book and prepare a review of the book.
The exams are going to be on anything that has been exposed to in class. Listening to
lectures, readings, anything is fair game however heuristically speaking, there are only so
many questions ones that the book and she covered in class. Read articles before class.
Ideal thing to do, because then you will have some deeper knowledge, keep up with the
Lecture 1: January 11, 2012
Language is a quality that is unique to man. People differ in their gut instincts whether they
want to believe that language is distinct to humans as opposed to just different with respect
to humans. However even if there might be some type of language between other animals
only humans can fully speak. Only humans have the complex syntax to not only talk about
items in the present but also the talk about things in the past and the future.
What is language?
It is a multifaceted kind of thing. It is a systematic but dynamic means of communicating
by the use of sounds or conventional signals. We have these arbitrary symbols that map
onto ideas of the world. It can also be seen as a cognitive aspect. We can think of it as a
purely abstract representation and processes. We can also think of how are these abstract
processes processed by the brain. We can also interpret language in terms of its
communication functions. We are trying to exchange ideas…
We can use language in a truthful or untruthful way (i.e. manipulate people).
Another way to think about language is that it is a joint activity like dance. Communicative
interactions that differ depending on the nature of the interaction.
What are the different features of human language?
We consider linguistics…
• Symbols convey meaning: conventional meaning of a particular linguistic system. • Arbitrary: The symbols we are dealing with are arbitrary. There are some words in
the language where the word itself will sound like the action this is known as
aunomonapia (bang, drip, ring…).
• It is structured: there are syntactic regularities, structures. There are acceptable and
unacceptable ways to communicate. There are certain members of the linguistic that
determines what is grammatically accepted while others will be unaccepted. There
are certain rules within a language. There are many different ways that rules are
• Language is also multi layered representation: linguistic representations vary: we
can think about a tulip in terms of orthography,