LINGUIST List 23.5003

Fri Nov 30 2012

Books: A History of Psycholinguistics: Levelt

Editor for this issue: Danniella Hornby <>

Date: 29-Nov-2012
From: Zach Borenstein <>
Subject: A History of Psycholinguistics: Levelt
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Title: A History of PsycholinguisticsSubtitle: The Pre-Chomskyan EraPublication Year: 2012Publisher: Oxford University Press

Book URL:

Author: Willem J.M. Levelt

Hardback: ISBN: 9780199653669 Pages: 648 Price: U.S. $ 115


How do we manage to speak and understand language? How do children acquirethese skills and how does the brain support them?These psycholinguistic issueshave been studied for more than two centuries.

Though many Psycholinguists tend to consider their history as beginning withthe Chomskyan "cognitive revolution" of the late 1950s/1960s, the history ofempirical 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 andpsychologists who created this discipline, looking at how they made theirimportant discoveries about the language regions in the brain, about thehigh-speed accessing of words in speaking and listening, on the child'sinvention of syntax, on the disruption of language in aphasic patients and somuch more. The book is both a history of ideas as well of the men and womenwhose intelligence, brilliant insights, fads, fallacies, cooperations, andrivalries created this discipline.

Psycholinguistics has four historical roots, which, by the end of the 19thcentury, had merged. By then, the discipline, usually called the psychology oflanguage, was established. The first root was comparative linguistics, whichraised the issue of the psychological origins of language. The second root wasthe study of language in the brain, with Franz Gall as the pioneer and theBroca and Wernicke discoveries as major landmarks. The third root was thediary approach to child development, which emerged from Rousseau's Emile. Thefourth root was the experimental laboratory approach to speech and languageprocessing, which originated from Franciscus Donders' mental chronometry.Wilhelm Wundt unified these four approaches in his monumental Die Sprache of1900. These four perspectives of psycholinguistics continued into the 20thcentury but in quite divergent frameworks. There was German consciousness andthought psychology, Swiss/French and Prague/Viennese structuralism, Russianand American behaviorism, and almost aggressive holism in aphasiology. As wellas reviewing all these perspectives, the book looks at the deep disruption ofthe field during the Third Reich and its optimistic, multidisciplinaryre-emergence during the 1950s with the mathematical theory of communication asa major impetus.

A tour de force from one of the seminal figures in the field, this book willbe essential reading for all linguists, psycholinguists, and psychologistswith an interest in language.

Linguistic Field(s): History of Linguistics Psycholinguistics

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:

-------------------------- Major Supporters --------------------------


Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Cambridge University Press

Cascadilla Press

Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)

De Gruyter Mouton

Edinburgh University Press

Elsevier Ltd

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Equinox Publishing Ltd

European Language Resources Association - ELRA

Georgetown University Press

Hodder Education

John Benjamins

Lincom GmbH

MIT Press

Morgan & Claypool Publishers

Multilingual Matters

Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH + Co. KG

Oxford University Press

Palgrave Macmillan

Peter Lang AG


Routledge (Taylor and Francis)


University of Toronto Press


---------------------- Other Supporting Publishers ----------------------

Association of Editors of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics

International Pragmatics Assoc.

Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke - LOT

SIL International

University of Nebraska Press

Utrecht institute of Linguistics

Page Updated: 30-Nov-2012