A History of Psycholinguistics: The Pre-Chomskyan Era

Paperback | March 4, 2014

byWillem Levelt

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How do we manage to speak and understand language? How do children acquire these skills and how does the brain support them? These psycholinguistic issues have been studied for more than two centuries. Though many Psycholinguists tend to consider their history as beginning with the Chomskyan "cognitive revolution" of the late 1950s/1960s, the history of empirical psycholinguistics actually goes back to the end of the 18th century. This is the first book to comprehensively treat this"pre-Chomskyan" history. It tells the fascinating history of the doctors, pedagogues, linguists and psychologists who created this discipline, looking at how they made their important discoveries about the language regions in the brain, about the high-speed accessing of words in speaking andlistening, on the child's invention of syntax, on the disruption of language in aphasic patients and so much more. The book is both a history of ideas as well of the men and women whose intelligence, brilliant insights, fads, fallacies, cooperations, and rivalries created this discipline. Psycholinguistics has four historical roots, which, by the end of the 19th century, had merged. By then, the discipline, usually called the psychology of language, was established. The first root was comparative linguistics, which raised the issue of the psychological origins of language. The secondroot was the study of language in the brain, with Franz Gall as the pioneer and the Broca and Wernicke discoveries as major landmarks. The third root was the diary approach to child development, which emerged from Rousseau's Emile. The fourth root was the experimental laboratory approach to speechand language processing, which originated from Franciscus Donders' mental chronometry. Wilhelm Wundt unified these four approaches in his monumental Die Sprache of 1900. These four perspectives of psycholinguistics continued into the 20th century but in quite divergent frameworks. There was Germanconsciousness and thought psychology, Swiss/French and Prague/Viennese structuralism, Russian and American behaviorism, and almost aggressive holism in aphasiology. As well as reviewing all these perspectives, the book looks at the deep disruption of the field during the Third Reich and itsoptimistic, multidisciplinary re-emergence during the 1950s with the mathematical theory of communication as a major impetus. A tour de force from one of the seminal figures in the field, this book will be essential reading for all linguists, psycholinguists, and psychologists with an interest in language.

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How do we manage to speak and understand language? How do children acquire these skills and how does the brain support them? These psycholinguistic issues have been studied for more than two centuries. Though many Psycholinguists tend to consider their history as beginning with the Chomskyan "cognitive revolution" of the late 1950s/196...

Willem Levelt is director emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, which he founded in 1980. He is also emeritus honorary professor of psycholinguistics at Nijmegen University. He has a PhD in psychology from Leiden University (1965), was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Universi...

other books by Willem Levelt

Speaking: From Intention to Articulation
Speaking: From Intention to Articulation

Paperback|Aug 26 1993

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:672 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.68 inPublished:March 4, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198712219

ISBN - 13:9780198712213

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Table of Contents

Orientation1. 1951Establishing the Discipline: 1770-19002. Inventing a Psychology of Language3. From Bumps to Diagrams: Tracing Language in the Brain4. Language Acquisition and the Diary Explosion5. Language in the Laboratory and Modeling Microgenesis6. Willem Wundt's Grand SynthesisTwentieth-Century Psycholinguistics Before the 'Cognitive Revolution'7. New Perspectives: Structuralism and the Psychology of Imageless Thought8. Verbal Behaviour9. Speech Acts and Functions10. Language Acquisition: Wealth of data, dearth of theory11. Language in the Brain: The lures of holism12. Empirical Studies of Speech and Language Usage13. A New Cross-Linguistic Perspective and Linguistic Relativity14. Psychology of Language During the Third ReichPsycholinguistics Re-Established15. Psycholinguistics Post-War, Pre-Chomsky

Editorial Reviews

"This lengthy 653-page book is impressive in its scope and thoroughness... Levelt is a fine researcher of original texts. He is extremely methodical in clearly citing references to original documents and is careful to thanks colleagues for pointing out sources to him. Levelt provides a largenumber of translated citations (except when they are 'too obnoxious to translate', p. 122) as well as original texts for every citation, included as footnotes. This allows the reader to form her own opinion about the original logic or theory of the cited author (as long as they are able to read thelanguage). This is also a practical time-saver, as many of the cited texts are somewhat difficult to access." --The Linguistic List, August 2013