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Jacqueline Woolley, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

Fall 2004

PSY 341K • Language and Thought-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42595 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
GAR 109

Course Description

At the intersection of the notions of language and thought are questions that have long captured the attention of cognitive scientists, linguists, anthropologists, and philosophers. Do we think in words? Does the structure of our native language reflect the way we think, or influence the way we think? Does the way people think vary from one linguistic culture to the next? What does our mind do when we process linguistic input? What is the origin of human language, and the origin of the cognitive apparatus that is required for language? Why and how does language change? How do people acquire language? Are there biological limits on language acquisition? Do we learn concepts and words together or independently? Can a person be normal linguistically yet cognitively deficient-or vice versa? What can linguistic deficits tell us about the way the mind/brain works? What do new technologies reveal about the representation of language in the brain, and how the brain is structured for language use? What is "correct" language use, and can it be legislated? In this course we will address these and related questions through readings, discussions, and papers. As the course is cross-listed in LIN, PSY, and CGS, our approach will primarily reflect the methods and intellectual purview of these disciplines, not the perspectives of sociology, anthropology, or philosophy.  

Grading Policy

Discussion notes on readings 30%
Reaction papers 20%
Exam 1 30%
Exam 2 15%
Attendance, participation, ad hoc assignments 5%


Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct (paperback)
Dedre Gentner & Susan Goldin-Meadow (Eds.), Language in Mind (paperback)
Packet of photocopied readings
Online readings


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