Chapter Summary

Chapter 8

This chapter has highlighted some important aspects of language and, in particular, how the cognitive sciences have sought to apply computational and informational approaches to help us to understand the complex processes that underlie language. Research adhering to this philosophy has shown an intricate relationship between language and thought. In particular, it shows that the way we think can influence the way we speak, and vice versa. Much research in the field has focused on the errors that we often make when producing or comprehending language. Based on this research, numerous cognitive models have been proposed which aim to account for the way in which we might process information that can lead to us making linguistic errors. A number of these models have attempted to map cognitive and biological processes onto language processes, such as word detection. It is clear that linguistic abilities, which we all carry out with ease every day, are extremely complex and multifaceted, which is reflected in the models highlighted above. Although this chapter (and typically the research field as well) has been separated out into language comprehension and language production, these two aspects of language are inextricably linked. It is clear that an overarching model of linguistic information processing must include the biological substrates of language and, until more advanced methods of investigation are available, a focus on language errors is crucial. This continuance in the development of testable models of language is vital in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms that afford us the ability to communicate with such effectiveness.