LINGUIST List 23.2970

Sat Jul 07 2012

Books: The Mental Corpus: Taylor

Editor for this issue: Danniella Hornby <>

Date: 06-Jul-2012
From: Helen Boyd <>
Subject: The Mental Corpus: Taylor
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Title: The Mental Corpus Subtitle: How Language is Represented in the Mind Published: 2012 Publisher: Oxford University Press

Book URL:

Author: John R. Taylor Hardback: ISBN: 9780199290802 Pages: 336 Price: U.K. £ 50

This book presents a radical reconceptualization of the nature of linguisticknowledge. John Taylor challenges the conventional notion that a languagecan be understood in terms of the interaction of syntax with a lexicon, thesecond listing the words and the first the rules for combining them. Heproposes instead that an individual's knowledge of a language can be thoughtof as a repository of memories of linguistic experience. Each encounter withthe language, he argues, leaves a trace in our minds. We record the forms ofutterances, the concepts and interpretations associated with them, and thecontexts in which they were heard or seen. Features of incoming language - aword, a phrase, a meaning, a voice quality, an interactional situation -resonate with items already stored. Similarities between stored items giverise to generalizations of varying degrees of certainty and precision, which inturn are able to sanction new and innovative expressions.

John Taylor writes with conviction, clarity, and wit, illustrating every stage ofhis argument with arresting examples. His account makes a profound andoriginal contribution to understanding the nature of language and theoperations of the mind and brain. His book will appeal in equal measure tolinguists, philosophers, and cognitive scientists.

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science                             Philosophy of Language
Written In: English (eng)

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