Psycholinguistics LIN 4701


Spring 2018

Description and Goals

The ability to use language is considered unique to humans. In many ways, our ability for language is surprisingly robust – it can survive even when other cognitive abilities fail, and develop in children even with poor language input. However, it can also be quite fragile – even a small stroke (in the wrong place) can severely impair language function, and several developmental disorders negatively affect language ability. Language is a very important aspect of our daily lives. It is the primary way in which we are able to communicate very complex, multi-dimensional ideas and make them fit into a string of sounds that unfold over time. How do we accomplish this feat? How do we convey our thoughts in this way? How are we able to take a string of sounds and getting meaning from them? How did we develop this ability? What happens in people who fail to acquire this ability, or lose it due to injury? Psycholinguistics concerns itself with all of these questions and more. At the end of this course you should be able to critically read popular media reporting of language research as well as feel confident reading about and discussing many issues that are relevant in child development, second language learning, linguistics, and psychology.

This course is intended as an introduction to the field of psycholinguistics, as such it will cover the following topics:

    • Introduction to basic linguistic principles and psychological mechanisms
    • Speech perception (processing language sounds)
    • The lexicon (processing words)
    • Sentence and discourse processing (putting words together)
    • Language production, dialogue and conversation
    • Child language acquisition, Bilingualism and second language acquisition
    • Biological foundation of language (language and the brain)
    • Language, culture and cognition


 Link to Syllabus