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The book Psychology of Language From Data to Theory by Trevor Harley emphasizes

that although language might not be all that makes us human, it is hard to imagine being
human without it. Given the importance of language in our behavior, it is perhaps surprising
that until not so long ago, relatively scant attention was paid to it in undergraduate courses.
Often at best it was studied as part of a general course on cognitive psychology. That
situation has changed. Furthermore, the research field of psycholinguistics is blossoming, as
evinced by the growth in the number of papers on the subject, and indeed, in the number of
journals dedicated to it. According to Harley, with this growth and this level of interest, it is
perhaps surprising that there are still relatively few textbooks devoted to psycholinguistics.
In this book, he wishes to address this gap. There are a total of 14 chapters in Harley’s
book. In the first chapter, the subject of the psychology of language, its history and methods
are covered. In the second chapter, important background on language, telling you how we
can describe sounds and the structure of sentences is provided. In essence it is a primer on
phonology and syntax. Chapter 3 looks at the extent to which language depends on the
presence and operation of certain biological, cognitive, and social precursors in order to be
able to develop normally. It is about how language is related to biological and cognitive
processes. It also discusses whether animals use language, or whether they can be taught to
do so. It examines how language is founded in the brain, and how damage to the brain can
lead to distinct types of impairment in language. By examining the relation between
language and thought, the more general role of language is explained. Things that can be
learned from language acquisition in exceptional circumstances, including the effects of
linguistic deprivation are also discussed. Chapter 4 examines how children acquire language,
and how language develops throughout childhood. Chapter 5 examines how bilingual
children learn to use two languages. Chapter 6 addresses how we recognize words and how
we access their meanings. Although the emphasis is on visually presented word recognition,
many of the findings described in this chapter are applicable to recognizing spoken words as
well. Chapter 7 examines how we read and pronounce words, and looks at disorders of
reading (the dyslexias). It also looks at how we learn to read. Chapter 8 focuses on the
speech system and how we process speech and identify spoken words. Chapter 9 looks at
how we make use of word order information in understanding sentences. These are issues
to do with syntax and parsing. Chapter 10 examines how we represent the meaning of
words. Chapter 11 examines how we comprehend and represent beyond the sentence level;
these are the larger units of discourse or text. In particular, it tries to explain how we
integrate new information with old to create a coherent representation or how we store
what we have heard and read. Chapter 12 talks about the process in reverse and examines
language production and its disorders. In Chapter 13, the structure of the language system
as a whole, and the relation between the parts are given emphasis. Finally, Chapter 14
examines some possible new directions in psycholinguistics.

The book Psychology of Language by David W. Carroll aims to present the principles
of psycholinguistics in a manner that is accessible to undergraduates. According to Carroll,
although the field can be technical at times, when presented clearly, it can be very engaging
to students. It also aims to discuss fundamental psycholinguistic issues in a balanced way. In
this book, controversial issues from a variety of perspectives are presented, which invites
the reader to think through the competing claims. This book is the fifth edition and its
organization is similar to earlier editions. All in all, it is divided into five parts. Part 1, which
discusses general issues, contains three chapters. Chapter 1 describes the scope of
psycholinguistics along with a short history of the field. Chapter 2 discusses basic
grammatical concepts such as phonemes, distinctive features, and morphology. The chapter
also includes the grammatical features of American Sign Language, a topic that is discussed
throughout the book. The chapter closes with a preliminary discussion of some controversial
issues in linguistic theory, such as the psychological reality of grammar and whether
language is innate. Chapter 3 focuses on basic concepts of information processing and how
they may apply to language. The overriding goal of Part 1 is to introduce the notion of a
cognitive approach to language processes, an approach that emphasizes the
interrelationships among language, memory, and cognition. This approach is then applied to
various aspects of language processing. Part 2, which discusses language comprehension,
includes chapters on perception, the lexicon, sentence processing, and discourse
processing. Chapter 4 discusses speech perception and reading, including research on non-
alphabetic orthographies. Chapter 5 presents current knowledge on the organization of the
internal lexicon, and it examines how we access words during comprehension. Chapter 6
discusses sentence comprehension, including parsing, figurative language, and memory for
sentences. Chapter 7 emphasizes levels of discourse representation and how they function
individually as well as in concert with one another. Part 3, which discusses language
production and conversational interaction, contains one chapter on language production
and one on conversation. Chapter 8 discusses speech errors and various explanations for
them, as well as the process of implementing speech plans. Chapter 9 describes the tasks
involved in conversational interaction and discusses how interaction varies with different
conversational settings and participants. Part 4, which discusses language acquisition,
contains three chapters. Chapter 10 discusses infants’ use of gestures prior to language and
the child’s initial steps in language acquisition, including first words and the emerging ability
to form multiword utterances. Chapter 11 discusses language acquisition in the late
preschool and school years, with an emphasis on metalinguistic awareness and reading.
Chapter 11 also considers bilingualism and second-language acquisition in children. Chapter
12 examines and appraises different theories of language acquisition. Finally, Part 5, which
discusses language in perspective, includes Chapter 13 on biological foundations and
Chapter 14 on language, culture, and cognition, with particular emphasis on the Whorf
hypothesis. These last two chapters are somewhat broader in scope than most of the earlier
ones and help put basic psycholinguistic processes (comprehension, production, and
acquisition of language) into biological and cultural perspective.

Finally, the book Psycholinguistics: A Resource Book for Students by John Field aims
to make psycholinguistic theory accessible to the general student. In using the book, a
background in basic linguistics is an advantage but is not a necessity; no prior knowledge of
psychology is assumed. Terminology is introduced gradually and explained with care.
Background principles are embodied in concrete examples and many essential concepts are
presented in a 'hands-on' way, with readers invited to reflect on what happens in their own
language performance. The material featured here is drawn from the psychological branch
of the field. It sheds light on many everyday language processes that we all engage in but
tend to take for granted. What precisely goes on when we pick up a book and begin to read
it? Or when we listen to the radio? Or write a letter or speak to a friend? How do we store
words in our minds? How do we manage to build those words into ideas? and many more.
The topics have been arranged according to the relative difficulty of the ideas involved. They
are also to some extent progressive. For instance, you need the frameworks provided by
previous sections in to understand subsequent chapters involving models of writing,
reading, listening and speaking. The book is divided into 4 sections: A, B, C, and D. Section A
introduces basic concepts for each subject area in a non-technical way. It sets out the key
concepts for the area of study. The units of this section take the reader step-by-step
through the foundational terms and ideas, providing them with an initial overview for the
following sections. Important terms are highlighted in bold type and explained; and pointers
are given to issues that are explored in other sections. Section B adds to the reader’s
knowledge and extends the key ideas already introduced. Units in this section provide data
illustrating an area of interest within the main topic, and use it to expand the understanding
of the topic as a whole. Section C provides further data and issues for reflection, and leads
the reader into his or her own exploration of the field. The units in this section are more
open-ended and exploratory, and the reader will be encouraged to try out own ideas and to
think like a psycholinguist. Sections B and C then focus on more specific aspects of the topic.
They do so by asking the readers to analyze data, to engage in discovery tasks, to reflect on
the findings of researchers and to evaluate ideas. Very importantly, readers are also asked
to reflect upon their own experiences. Section C extends the learning experience by
proposing a number of experimental tasks, which readers can carry out for themselves, thus
putting to the test some of the effects, which have been described. Finally, Section D offers
the reader the chance to extend his or her knowledge with key readings in the area. These
are taken from the work of important writers in the field and have been chosen because
they are accessible to a reader who is new to the study of Psycholinguistics. Most are drawn
from books; a few are papers from psychology journals. The passages have been abridged,
but should give readers a flavor of how theory and research are presented in
psycholinguistics. At the end of the book, there are suggestions for further reading, which
may be useful to those who want to undertake an in-depth study of any of the twelve core
topics covered.

All three books essentially have the same format and organization. They start with
straightforward concepts that provide the framework for the reader then move on to
harder, more complex ones. All three books also try to explain ideas in the clearest and
simplest possible way as these books are aimed at intermediate and advanced-level
undergraduates, although new postgraduates might also find it useful. The books are
divided into sections, each section covering an important aspect of language. The book
Psychology of Language From Data to Theory by Trevor Harley starts off with an
introduction that describes what language is, and provides essential background for
describing language. It is then followed by the biological bases of language, the relationship
of language to other cognitive processes, and language development. The third section talks
about comprehension: how we understand sentences and discourse and how people
recognize words. The final section is about language production, and also about how
language interacts with memory. It also examines the grand design or architecture of the
language system. I noticed that in all three books, a number of pedagogical features are
included that will be helpful to readers. Chapters begin with a list of main points that the
reader should expect to learn. Interim summaries occur after each major section of the
chapter, so that readers may assess their learning before going on. Each chapter concludes
with a set of questions. Review Questions are directly related to the material in the chapter,
and readers should be able to answer them if they have read the chapter carefully. Thought
Questions are intended to stimulate thinking about the material in the chapter. Although
the answers to these questions cannot be found directly in the chapter—indeed, most have
no single ‘‘correct’’ answer—the material presented provides a basis for beginning to
examine these questions. The book Psychology of Language by David W. Carroll, on the
other hand, mainly talks about the most fascinating questions about human behavior that
deal with language. Are we born with a propensity for acquiring language, or is this a skill
that is nurtured by one’s environment? What causes slips of the tongue? How does brain
damage influence language functioning? Do individuals who speak different languages think
differently? These are some of the questions that author tried to answer in his book. To
pursue answers to these and many other questions, he cut across some of the traditional
boundaries of psychology. For instance, he mentioned that it is important to study children
as well as adults and examine language both in the laboratory and in natural settings. By
pulling all of these different strands together, the readers come to appreciate language as a
whole and the central role it plays in human affairs. Similar to the other two, Caroll has
presented controversial issues from a variety of perspectives and invited the reader to think
through the competing claims. Finally, the book Psycholinguistics: A Resource Book for
Students by John Field, like the aforementioned books aims to make psycholinguistic theory
accessible to the general student. Terminology is introduced gradually and explained with
care. Background principles are embodied in concrete examples and many essential
concepts are presented in a 'hands-on' way, with readers invited to reflect on what happens
in their own language performance. Twelve core topics are given emphasis and these are:
(1) introduction to Psycholinguistics (2) is language specific to humans? (3) language and the
brain (4) vocabulary storage (5) using vocabulary (6) language processing (7) writing
processes (8) reading processes (9) listening processes (10) speaking processes (11)
comprehension and (12) language deprivation and disability.


Carroll, D.W. (2008). The psychology of language. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Field, J. (2003). Psycholinguistics: A resource book for students. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Harley, T.A. (2001). The psychology of language from data to theory. Hove, East Sussex:
Psychology Press Ltd.