The Study of Language by George Yule | 5th Edition

The Study of Language has proven itself to be the student and instructor choice for first courses in language and linguistics because of its accessible approach to, what is often, a complicated subject. In every edition, readers have praised the book for being easy to follow, simple to understand, and fun to read, with its quirky anecdotes and examples of languages from around the world. Now in its fifth edition, it is further strengthened by the addition of new student ‘tasks’ (guiding readers to connect theory to real-world scenarios), including examples from even more foreign languages, and updating the text to reflect the most current linguistic theory. We will also be offering an enriched learning experience with our new enhanced eBook . . . → Read More: The Study of Language by George Yule | 5th Edition

Sapir, Whorf, and the hypothesis that wasn’t

written by Aneta Pavlenko, Temple University


One of the linchpins of human information-processing are the frames of expectation we apply to the constant flow of information. These frames allow us to impose meaning on the things we see, hear, or read and to position ourselves with regard to ideas and arguments. In the case of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (SWH), these frames require us to adopt one of the three recognizable positions: for (which may brand us as radicals), against (a marker of a skeptic or a rational thinker), or in-between (a sign of a temperate scholar willing to consider the pros and cons of everything). The adoption of conventional frames of expectation saves us a lot of valuable time . . . → Read More: Sapir, Whorf, and the hypothesis that wasn’t

A note on Register, or Level of Language, in Spanish

By Ronald Batchelor

A most dominant factor in the use of language is register, or variety or level of language determined by the communicative situation in which the speaker/writer finds herself/ himself. In other words, the level of language we resort to depends, to a very large extent, on whether we are speaking with friends, which would attract a colloquial style, writing a letter, delivering a lecture involving a standard style, or writing a book frequently entailing a formal, elevated style of expression. Levels of language may therefore differ over a range from informal to formal, and are determined by four factors: sex, age, professional or social status, and intimacy. All these features affect, in varying degrees, the way we use language . . . → Read More: A note on Register, or Level of Language, in Spanish

A note on the Concept of Gender in French

written by Ronald Batchelor

To the English-speaking beginner, the notion of masculine and feminine gender for French nouns comes as a surprise. Perhaps it should not be so. For in most European languages of Indo-European origin, and this includes Arabic, Pashto, Hindi, among many others, but excludes Basque, Finnish, Hungarian or Turkish, gender distinction forms an integral part of grammatical discourse. But let’s play the devil’s advocate.  For such a beginner, the concept of gender assigned to inanimate objects appears extraordinary, lacking all logic and convincing definition. So much for the logic of “Ce qui n’est pas logique n’est pas français.” It seems to make more sense that gender should find no place when applied to inanimate objects, as in English. One . . . → Read More: A note on the Concept of Gender in French

Communication Disorders in an Age of Impact

Giving Voice

by Louise Cummings

Nottingham Trent University, UK

As academic researchers, linguists are increasingly being asked to demonstrate the impact of their work on the lives of individuals and on the growth of national economies. There is one field within linguistics where impact is more readily demonstrated than in any other. This is the study of the many ways in which language and communication can break down or fail to develop normally in children and adults with communication disorders. These disorders are the focus of a recently published handbook, the Cambridge Handbook of Communication Disorders, which brings together 30 chapters on all aspects of the classification, assessment and treatment of communication disorders. The chapters in this volume will speak for themselves. My purpose in . . . → Read More: Communication Disorders in an Age of Impact

Taking the pulse of eye-movement research: Special issue of Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Published on behalf of Aline Godfroid, Paula Winke and Susan Gass

Understanding how languages are learned involves investigating the cognitive processes that underlie acquisition. Many methodologies have been used over the years to comprehend these processes, but one of recent prominence is eye-movement recording, colloquially referred to as eye-tracking. Eye-tracking consists of the registration, in real time, of what an individual looks at and for how long. Thus, eye-trackers provide information about the duration and location of an individual’s eye movements on a computer screen as he or she reads text or listens to audio. Because eye-tracking is still a relatively novel technique in research on adult second language learning, we put together a thematic issue on this topic. The special issue . . . → Read More: Taking the pulse of eye-movement research: Special issue of Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

The Phonological Mind

By Iris Berent
Northeastern University, Boston

Humans weave phonological patterns instinctively. We contrast dogs and gods, favour blogs to lbogs; we begin forming patterns at birth; and like songbirds, we do so spontaneously, even in the absence of an adult model. In fact, we impose phonological design not only on our natural linguistic communication but also on invented cultural technologies—reading and writing. Why are humans compelled to generate phonological patterns? And why do different phonological systems—signed and spoken—share aspects of their design?

In The Phonological Mind, I outline a novel answer to these questions. The answer encompasses two claims. The first is that phonology is an algebraic system—it comprises powerful rules, akin to syntactic generalizations. For example, speakers whose language bans identical consonants (e.g., . . . → Read More: The Phonological Mind

The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 6. Gumbo: The thought–language–hand link, social interactive growth points, the timeline of Mead’s Loop, and bionic language.

David McNeill, University of Chicago

To end this series, I address four questions regarding Mead’s Loop: 1) what evidence is there for the thought-language-hand link that in theory it established; 2) how did it change face-to-face social interaction; 3) when did it emerge; and 4) how far can it be duplicated artificially?  The questions, disparate as they are, are connected through the concept of the growth point, which is the linchpin of each.

The “IW case” reveals the thought–language–hand link   

Natural selection of a thought-language-hand link, chiefly in Broca’s Area but also with links to the other “language areas” indicated in Part 3[HYPERLINK TO 3], was . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 5: The dynamic dimension, modes of consciousness.

David McNeill, University of Chicago

The dual semiosis of global-synthetic gesture, merging with analytic-combinatoric speech, synchronizing at points where they are co-expressive – namely, gesture–speech unity – led to other dynamic properties: the imagery–language dialectic, and three others, “psychological predicates,” “communicative dynamism,” and that GPs self-unpack by “calling” constructions to do it.

Collectively these properties comprise “the sentence” viewed dynamically.  Dynamic properties arose organically out of Mead’s Loop. They would not have been separately selected. They are among the “new actions” mentioned in Part 4, are themselves linked and are inseparable from context. The context, dynamic in itself, penetrates GPs and leads ineluctably to dynamic properties.

We will also see that Wundt’s two consciousnesses of the sentence, . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 4:  Mead’s Loop (2). Wider consequences.

David McNeill, University of Chicago

As it evolved Mead’s Loop created “new actions,” as mentioned previously.  New actions are one of the “wider consequences” of Mead’s Loop. Action itself was a target of natural selection, and the new actions emerged organically. They did not need a separate evolution. A second consequence is metaphoricity. A third is the emblem, a culturally established gesture with metaphoricity at the core. A fourth is how children acquire language – twice, the first of which goes through the equivalent of extinction.  A fifth (many more can be identified) is what phenomenologist philosophy calls “being” – “inhabiting” gesture and speech, rather than only displaying them as elements of communication.

1. New actions and . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity