Questions tagged [psycholinguistics]

Questions that are about the neurobiological and psychological factors that affect the acquisition, comprehension and utilisation of the language in human beings.

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24
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do languages not share a root for “butterfly”?

In the article The Elusive Butterfly. Iconicity in Language (2001), William O. Beeman draws attention to the fact that most languages do not share a root for their word for butterfly. In other words, ...
20
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3answers
1k views

Are there any fundamental differences in personal pronoun acquisition across languages?

I am interest in reversal errors in personal pronoun acquisition. My knowledge comes mostly from studies done with English-speaking children, and I was wondering if there is any languages where this ...
19
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5answers
849 views

Language acquisition without interactive contact with fluent speakers

Children raised in a multilingual environment learn all the languages that they are exposed to with no effort. Does the same thing happen if a child has only indirect contact with a language? For ...
19
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2answers
647 views

Are similar languages easier for children to acquire than dissimilar ones?

When a child is first learning a language in a bilingual environment, is it easier or harder to properly acquire the two distinct languages if they are more similar? For example, is it easier for a ...
18
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1answer
2k views

How does alcohol affect the ability to speak a second language?

From my own experience, drinking alcohol has both positive and negative effects to the ability of speaking a second language. On the one hand, it facilitates the process, mainly because one gets more ...
16
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4answers
835 views

Why do rhotics pattern together?

Looking at the IPA, many different types of sounds are given symbols based of of the Latin R,r: approximants, trills, taps/flaps; both coronal and uvular segments. Sometimes, these sounds are ...
16
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4answers
564 views

Can one's native medium of language be written, rather than spoken or signed?

(This is probably a poorly-formed question, but I'm really just trying to find out if there's any research in this area.) Most children pick up a spoken or signed language at an early age, and this ...
15
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1answer
876 views

Does capitalization of nouns aid reading comprehension?

German is the only widely used language prescribing capitalization of nouns in the written language. I speak English and German fluently myself, but I can read German texts significantly faster than ...
14
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6answers
12k views

Evidence for age cutoff in foreign accent acquistion

Steven Pinker in "The Language Instinct" claims that there is strong psychological evidence for the existence of a sharp age cutoff for the ability to acquire a flawless foreign accent (I may dig up ...
13
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5answers
4k views

Are there languages with no first person?

Fiction is rife with characters who always speak in third person. Often, such characters are portrayed as having a native language or culture that lacks the concept of a first person, and hence they ...
13
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5answers
6k views

What language, if any, do deaf people think in?

If a person is partially deaf, I think they would be able to acquire the language, and actually I've seen partially deaf people speak in addition to the use of a sign language. I suppose this means ...
13
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5answers
4k views

What are some examples of recent studies investigating strong linguistic determinism?

One of the most controversial ideas put forth in linguistics is the idea of linguistic determinism. Also known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, it states that people who speak different languages would ...
13
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1answer
277 views

Selective fluency - is it a thing?

I speak 4 languages, and I have the least exposure to my native language, since I have never lived in the region where it's spoken. My only exposure to it is speaking to my parents, and some TV. I ...
12
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3answers
35k views

What's the 'official' term for when a word is at the tip of your tongue?

If I remember correctly from the half year I studied linguistics, there is a sort of official name for the situation or state your brain (or your speech center) is in when a word is at the tip of your ...
11
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4answers
15k views

When you think one word, but write another, similar sounding word?

If you are writing or typing and you are thinking of one word, but then type another word made of the same phonemes, what is that called and what are the linguistic and /or psychological phenomena ...
10
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3answers
356 views

How do linguists deal with losing normal intuition?

Sometimes when I see an example sentence in a linguistics textbook which is supposed to be incorrect or unparseable, I get annoyed because the sentence seems just fine to me. Garden paths aren't the ...
10
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5answers
690 views

In multilingual dialogues, which factors determine the language the speaker chooses for a given word or phrase?

As is the case in many households, my wife and I are both fluent in two languages to the degree that we speak to each other without a conscious thought as to which language we are using. We often ...
10
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1answer
11k views

Why do some people speak/whisper the words they are reading?

Not sure if this is the right stack exchange site but here goes.. Couple of people at my workplace seem to whisper or quietly speak the material they read. They do this routinely, and they speak more ...
10
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1answer
182 views

Why is [la] widely used as a substitution for singing? Is it a worldwide phenomenon?

When people sing without knowing or using the text, they often sing as lalalala...
9
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6answers
12k views

Is it possible to change your mother-tongue by thinking in another language?

Once I heard from someone that your mother tongue is the language you talk in your thoughts. I've asked many people to verify the correctness of this proposition and to me, inductively this seems to ...
9
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3answers
524 views

Is the body language and hand movements manifested by a person as they speak part of that person's idiolect?

By this, I mean do a person's body language and hand gestures as they speak manifest in a consistent and observable way? I'm a person who speaks with my hands very much; if I'm not moving my hands ...
9
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2answers
367 views

Does the phrase “thinking in a language” have empirical meaning?

In discussions of language learning, multilingualism, and related topics, I hear references to "thinking in a language." Two questions on this stack exchange list have referenced this, namely "What ...
8
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2answers
607 views

What are the motivations for which direction syntactic trees are built in (top down or bottom up)?

When I learned x-bar theory, there seemed to be an implicit assumption that trees were built top-down, from IP or CP to the VP and its complement, etc. However, as I am learning more about Minimalism (...
8
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1answer
11k views

Hearing your name in a noisy crowd: what is this called and how might it work?

I can't really formulate it any more lucid than as it is in the title, so.... I'm reading a phonetics text now, but I haven't yet got to the chapter on 'speech perception' so maybe I'll come across at ...
8
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1answer
276 views

Does capitalizing nouns improve readability?

In German, one capitalizes the nouns in a sentence. In the video Life in Germany - Ep. 42: English vs. German, an American claims that capitalizing the nouns makes it easier to understand a sentence. ...
8
votes
1answer
236 views

How can I embed language proficiency assessment within an unrelated experiment design?

I'm in the process of designing a self-paced-reading & a grammaticality-judgment-task experiment, which should be performed by second language learners. It is crucial to the study is how the ...
7
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3answers
1k views

Do animals have foreign languages?

Humans living in different parts of the world develop different languages; humans living in the same area speak the same language in order to be able to communicate with each other. We know that other ...
7
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5answers
11k views

Why is it “easier” to understand a foreign language when reading than to speak it?

I know that the two mentioned abilities are different. I always find it quite straightforward to understand a foreign language when reading. provided I have a good knowledge of its grammar and a large ...
7
votes
2answers
807 views

Methods for meaning extraction

Let someone wants to know what some word (concrete as "chair" or abstract as "happiness") mean. What methods, experimental techniques are there for extracting word's meaning? I found next ways: Study ...
7
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1answer
239 views

Why does ambient conversation in the same language confuse me when I recite, but in another language not?

I pray in Hebrew. Many of my prayers have fixed wordings; as such, sometimes (alas) I wind up reciting them without wholly concentrating on what I'm saying. When I'm doing so, I find that concurrent ...
6
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4answers
785 views

When and how do children learn to distinguish languages?

At what age range are children expected to be able to distinguish languages? Are there any factors that aid children in learning this skill?
6
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2answers
635 views

Is our mental lexicon structured like a tag-cloud system or hierarchical?

Thinking about this discussion on meta i was reasoning about simple self-experiments you can do in psycholinguistics, where you don't need great background knowledge in Cognitive Psychology or ...
6
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2answers
4k views

Limits on center-embedding in English

Consider the following extremely melodramatic story fragment (the sentences in the story, and its melodramatic character, set up context and motivation for the brain to parse an otherwise hard-to-...
6
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3answers
300 views

A distance on words

I am not an expert in linguistics at all; more of a physicist instead. So I don't know if there are any defined distances on words D(W1, W2) that really represents how the human memory works; for ...
5
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3answers
10k views

Sapir-Whorf vs. Chomsky

Can somebody let me know if this is a reasonable explanation for how the two theories are similar and different? This is not for homework, I'm just try to understand the difference, and my textbook ...
5
votes
3answers
919 views

Do bilinguals and multilingual native speakers make language mistakes?

Suppose a person speaks several languages, occasionally making mistakes in grammar(s), using untypical patterns, clichés and/or calques. Can such a level of language competence be defined as ...
5
votes
2answers
120 views

What factors determine the numeral coming to numbers such as -1, 0, 0.5, 100% in a language which has and only has contrast in singular and plural?

I have searched by corpus and found variant results for the same number above. People also hesitate with these numbers and make different sortation. Is there any research about any psycolinguistical ...
5
votes
1answer
216 views

Does one's ability to describe an object with words reflect his or her ability to identify the object visually?

Does one's ability to describe an object with words affect his or her ability to identify that object visually? As a follow-up, does one's ability to describe an object with words affect his or her ...
5
votes
2answers
339 views

What's the “state of the art” for methodology in syntactic/semantic experiments

I'm looking for good recent books or articles on experimental methodology in syntax or semantics. Ideally they'd be geared towards working formal linguists who don't know much about psycholinguistics ...
5
votes
1answer
486 views

Body parts and metaphor

Across languages, body parts are used as part of a metaphor, whether it is in an idiom or in a phrasal construction. Do any know of any survey like academic paper that investigates the whys and hows ...
5
votes
1answer
173 views

Do humans differ from other animals by being able to push and pop memory?

The Chomsky hierarchy of types 0,1,2,3 grammars correspond, as he showed, to the abstract automata classified in accordance with their use of memory. The type 2 grammars, the context free phrase ...
5
votes
1answer
213 views

To which extent are people’s perceptions of their own pronunciation influenced by the language’s orthography?

In my experience, literate native speakers of a language tend to assume that the language’s orthography is significantly more phonetic than it actually is or, with other words, tend to think that ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is 'It' anaphoric or cataphoric, and what is its antecedent/postcedent?

Question 1a: What does 'It' refer to in the following sentence: It was clearly in the mood to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions. The context for the above sentence is provided in ...
5
votes
0answers
114 views

Research on development of language of modality in children 8-12?

Let me quickly introduce myself to provide a context for my questions. My PhD research focuses on ways that we can teach primary school children (9-12) ways of handling complex, contradictory and ...
5
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0answers
89 views

Is there a term for a mental prototype changing?

Years ago, if I heard the word bird I thought about a sparrow since I live in western Pennsylvania and there are sparrows everywhere. But now, if I hear the word bird I picture a blue, two-dimensional ...
4
votes
5answers
482 views

Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

tl;dr Linguists like to claim that the mapping from sounds to word meanings is mostly arbitrary. Can you point out research that supports this claim? Specificllay I am looking for hard evidience in ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How do we perceive and read words and sentences? Does the order of the inner letters play no significant role?

Try to read this texts, start with the most difficult one, if you cant read, skip to the next easier one: all letters mixed I onlucd't ieebvel ttah I udloc talyulac rsddetanun hwat I swa radgeni....
4
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4answers
513 views

Does learning ancestral languages enrich a daughter language?

[Grammarphobia.com:] The study, published in 1973, offered this breakdown of sources [of English vocabulary]: Latin: 28.34%;  French: 28.3%;   Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and Dutch: 25%; ...
4
votes
1answer
851 views

Does language influence thinking skills or cognition

I have an intuition, and Hypothesis, that the native language we speak is responsible for our cognition and thinking skills. e.g. Hebrew speaking people would have poor spatial ability compared to ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

Is there a term for a made-up synonym or analogy to describe a forgotten word?

(I'm not a linguist, just generally interested in languages, so forgive me if I lack the appropriate vocabulary.) There are some examples here, but the general gist is that someone forgets a word (in ...