Language comprehension and production

Clifton, C. J., Meyer, A. S., Wurm, L. H., & Treiman, R. (2013). Language comprehension and production. In A. F. Healy, & R. W. Proctor (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology, Volume 4, Experimental Psychology. 2nd Edition (pp. 523-547). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
In this chapter, we survey the processes of recognizing and producing words and of understanding and creating sentences. Theory and research on these topics have been shaped by debates about how various sources of information are integrated in these processes, and about the role of language structure, as analyzed in the discipline of linguistics. In this chapter, we describe current views of fluent language users' comprehension of spoken and written language and their production of spoken language. We review what we consider to be the most important findings and theories in psycholinguistics, returning again and again to the questions of modularity and the importance of linguistic knowledge. Although we acknowledge the importance of social factors in language use, our focus is on core processes such as parsing and word retrieval that are not necessarily affected by such factors. We do not have space to say much about the important fields of developmental psycholinguistics, which deals with the acquisition of language by children, or applied psycholinguistics, which encompasses such topics as language disorders and language teaching. Although we recognize that there is burgeoning interest in the measurement of brain activity during language processing and how language is represented in the brain, space permits only occasional pointers to work in neuropsychology and the cognitive neuroscience of language. For treatment of these topics, and others, the interested reader could begin with two recent handbooks of psycholinguistics (Gaskell, 2007; Traxler & Gemsbacher, 2006) and a handbook of cognitive neuroscience (Gazzaniga, 2004).
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