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Language, Mind and Brain

Some Psychological and Neurological Constraints on Theories of Grammar

Ewa Dabrowska

Hardback i (Printed to Order)

Human languages reside in human brains, and it is undeniable that properties of the mind/brain place strong constraints on linguistic structure. Yet most linguists know little about the psychology of language and even less about its neural substrate. Language, Mind and Brain explores these constraints and shows how linguistics could benefit by incorporating insights from research on language acquisition, language processing, neurolinguistics and other disciplines concerned with human linguistic abilities. The first part of the book offers a useful introduction to the relevant issues for readers with little prior knowledge of these disciplines. In the second part, the cognitive underpinnings of language are discussed in more detail in three case studies chosen to illuminate complementary aspects of linguistic structure (the semantics of locative terms, morphological rules, the syntax of English questions). The final chapter is devoted to approaches to language which meet the requirements outlined earlier, with particular prominence given to cognitive and construction grammar.


  • A unique contribution to the debate on the relationship between language and other cognitive processes
  • Accessible text which introduces readers to a psychologically realistic theory of language
  • Includes a definitive introduction and case studies to illustrate key topics.


1. Introduction
2. Language Processing: Speed and Flexibility
3. Language Acquisition: Robustness
4. Language in the Brain
5. Language and Other Cognitive Processes
6. Biological Underpinnings
7. Words
8. On Rules and Regularity
9. Syntactic Constructions
10. The Cognitive Enterprise

About the Author

Ewa D


A wonderful book and real rarity: a scholarly treatise on language that is also accessible for even beginning level students. I know of no book that does a better job of exploring and even celebrating the many unique aspects of language, while at the same time highlighting its many deep connections with other domains of the human cognition.
- Professor Michael Tomasello, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
This work is distinguished by meticulous presentation and brilliant thinking.
- Germanistik (Redaktion)
This well-informed, comprehensive book takes a fresh look at long-standing issues within psycholinguistics. And it is so well-written that it often reads more like a novel than a textbook.
- Adele E. Goldberg, Professor of Linguistics, Princeton University