Course Handout - Psycholinguistics Glossary

Copyright Notice: This material was written and published in Wales by Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). It forms part of a multifile e-learning resource, and subject only to acknowledging Derek J. Smith's rights under international copyright law to be identified as author may be freely downloaded and printed off in single complete copies solely for the purposes of private study and/or review. Commercial exploitation rights are reserved. The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so. Copyright © 2010, High Tower Consultants Limited.

 

First published online 13:30 GMT 3rd November 2003, Copyright Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). This version [HT.11 - reinstate lost links] dated 18:00 8th December 2010]

 

Although it is reasonably self-contained, this glossary is best read as extending and supporting our e-papers on "Speech Errors, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology" and "Dyslexia and the Cognitive Science of Reading and Writing"

 

1 - The Glossary

Accommodation: [See firstly speech production stages.] A class of speech error in which syntactic and morphological processing is correctly carried out on an emerging word sequence already containing an earlier error. This curious, but not uncommon, phenomenon is usually taken as strong evidence for the modularity of the underlying processing stages, because it indicates that late modules are not checking the accuracy of what early modules are passing to them, but are just acting on it. [In fact, they are typically unable to check it because the whole point of having "gone modular" in the first place is that processing should not be duplicated from one stage to the next.]

Accusative: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun or pronoun when used as the object of a transitive verb

Activation Threshold: [See firstly lexicon (psycholinguistic definition).] Hypothetically, the amount of neural excitation needed to activate a particular entry in a particular word store. Examples: Both Dell's (1986) spreading activation theory and Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller's (1993) dual route cascaded model of reading out loud subscribe to the activation threshold concept.

Active: One of the two main types of voice. "A term used in the grammatical analysis of voice, referring to a sentence, clause, or verb form where, from a semantic point of view, the grammatical subject is typically the actor, in relation to the verb, e.g. The boy wrote a letter" (Crystal, 2003, p8). [Contrast passive.]

Adjectival: Short for adjectival phrase.

Adjectival Phrase: A phrase serving as an adjective. Example: "The bedroom was full of toys" (source).

Adjective: A category of word which often denotes the state of a noun [e.g. "sad", "happy"], which typically has an associated adverb ["sadly", "happily"] and associated comparatives and superlatives [e.g. "sadder-saddest", "happier-happiest"], can often be negativised ["unhappy"], and can generate an abstract noun by adding the suffix "-ness" ["sadness", "happiness"] (after Radford, 2003 online).

Adposition: An adposition is "a member of a closed set of items that occur before or after a complement [.....] and form a single structure with the complement to express its grammatical and semantic relation to another unit within a clause" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). If the adposition comes before its complement, then it is known as a preposition, if after it, it is known as a postposition. 

Adverb: "..... a heterogenous group of items whose most frequent function is to specify the mode of action of the verb" (Crystal, 2003, p13). Examples: "sadly", "happily", "firstly", and most other words ending "-ly".

Adverbial: Short for adverbial phrase.

Adverbial Phrase: An "element of clause structure", whose syntactic role is to modify the verb element in terms of manner, place, or time (after Crystal, 2003).  Example: "At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them".

Agent: This term "typically denotes a person who deliberately causes some state of affairs to come about" (source). Therefore, "in active constructions in English, the agent is usually the grammatical subject" (Crystal, 2003, p16).

Agency: "The ability to alter at will one's perceptual inputs" either (a) by overt movement, or (b) by shift of attention (Russell, 1996, p3), without which there can be no object permanence nor theory of mind.

Allograph: A small set of optional sub-variants of one of the letters available within a given orthography. The mid-point on the three-way hierarchy of organisation of orthographic resources, below the level of the single conceptual letter - i.e. the grapheme - but above the level of the many physical variants of that letter - the graphs. Example: The grapheme /s/ can officially exist as the allographs s S s S s S s S in the Times New Roman font alone, and when handwritten will probably never occur twice the same way! 

Allophone: A small set of optional sub-variants of one of the sounds available within a given phonology. The mid-point on the three-way hierarchy of organisation of phonological resources, below the level of the single conceptual sound - i.e. the phoneme - but above the level of the many physical variants of that sound - the phones. Example: The phoneme /s/ can officially exist as the allophones /s/ and /z/. [CAUTION: The phone-allophone-phoneme distinction regularly attracts deep theoretical discussion - see, for example, Linguist List, 12th December 1999.]

Ambiguous Sentence: A sentence which, by accident or design, is difficult to parse syntactically, and which therefore supports no fixed and final semantic or pragmatic interpretation. Within this category, we often encounter sentences which appear to parse successfully until the last few words, whereupon an earlier error becomes apparent. These are known as "garden path" sentences (because they "lead you up the garden path") [for examples, see journalese]. Another common cause of ambiguity arises from difficulties with pronoun resolution, and another from the deliberate use of double entendres by comedians.

American Prisoner Argument: John Searle's (1969) illustration of the difference between an illocutionary act, a locutionary act, and perlocutionary effect. He asks you to imagine (a) that you are an American soldier taken prisoner by Italian forces during the Second World War, (b) that there are German special forces operating in American uniform in the locality, whom the Italians - their allies at the time - have been told not to detain, (c) that you will therefore be released if only you can persuade your captors that you are in fact German, (d) that you know no German besides a line from a poem which you learned parrot fashion while at school, and (e) that your Italian captors know so little German themselves that they will probably not notice your shortcomings. You therefore resolve to give it a try, and come out with your bit of poetry: Kennst du das Land wo die Zitronen blühen. Searle then summarises the pragmatics of this encounter. The illocutionary act is the decision to behave linguistically in a certain way to produce a certain effect, namely to persuade the Italians to believe you are a German spy in American uniform, and accordingly let you go free. The locutionary act is the uttering of the words themselves, and although the sentence as uttered does not "say" or "mean" "I am a German soldier", that is its effect nonetheless. The perlocutionary effect would be for the ploy to succeed or not, as the case might be (Searle leaves us up in the air on this point). 

Anaphora: [Greek anaphora = to carry back/down/again.] Originally, a figure of speech involving reference back to an antecedent using "the repetition of the same word or phrase in several successive clauses" (OED). Example: "This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars," etc., 17 times in all (Shakespeare, Richard II) [full text]. To students of literature, therefore, the topic of anaphora begins as a simple matter of style, but soon becomes a matter of high semantics because repetitions which are strictly speaking unnecessary start to acquire additional emphasis. Your ear soon starts to become increasingly interested in what all these thisses are talking about, until the 17th - "this England" - finally puts you out of your misery. The key point is that all the this-phrases were "co-referential", that is to say, they were different ways of talking about the same subject. The need to support literary criticism with constant analysis of semantic reference gradually led to the term anaphora being adopted within linguistics as a special case of deixis, the science of pointing. Here it acquired the connotation "mentioned or implied in previous discourse" (Hedberg, 2004 online), but lost the original sense of repetition. More recently, indeed, the term is usually seen as a straight synonym for the processes of pronoun resolution. [See also backwards anaphora.]

Antecedent: [See firstly anaphora.] In a discourse of perhaps many sentences, any noun subsequently referred to by a pronoun or a reflexive. [See now binding theory.] 

Argument: Will usually be seen in its everyday sense. If it has a specific theoretical meaning at all, it will probably be as a verb argument

Article: "..... a subclass of determiners which displays a primary role in differentiating the uses of nouns, e.g. the/a in English" (Crystal, 2003, p33).

Attributive Adjective: An adjective used in the usual way to qualify its noun. Example: "The big man". [This usage contrasts with that of the predicative adjective.] 

Auditory Input Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Ellis and Young's (1988) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known heard words and common phrases. Functionally and conceptually, the auditory input lexicon is one of the mind's four main "surface form" word storage modules [the others being the speech output lexicon, the visual input lexicon, and the graphemic output lexicon]. Its main role within the broader spread of cognition as a whole is to help the processes of auditory perception segment the stream of speech sounds falling on our ears into recognisable units. But beware, because different theorists adopt marginally different names for the same concept. The auditory input lexicon is exactly the same as the "sound image centre" seen in Kussmaul (1878), the Klangbild seen in Freud (1891), the "auditory input logogen system" seen in Ellis (1982), and the "phonological input lexicon" seen in Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992).

Austin, John Langshaw (1911-1960): [selected Internet biography] John Austin was the philosopher whose theory of speech acts (Austin, 1962) introduced the concepts of performative utterance and illocutionary act into linguistics.

Auxiliary Verb: See verb (auxiliary).

Backchannel: Used as an adjective (e.g. "backchannel traffic"), this term describes communication from audience to speaker, specifically designed to give feedback on the speaker's success (or otherwise) at getting their message across in terms of appropriacy of content and pace of delivery. Used as a noun (e.g. "the backchannel"), it describes the physical pathways used during this type of communication. [See the fuller discussion in our e-paper on "The Relevance of Shannonian Communication Theory to Biological Communication".]

Background Knowledge: A catch-all term for everything you know about a topic of narrative or discourse. Background knowledge is important because it accounts for context effects and inference in language processing.

Backwards Anaphora: [See firstly anaphora.] Variant of pronoun usage in which the noun follows (rather than precedes) its pronoun. Example: "The woman who is to marry him will visit Ralph tomorrow" (Carden, 1982, p361). [Avoid. Anaphora is naturally backwards, referring as it does to an antecedent. Backwards anaphora, as in the example just given, therefore points forwards, and such unnecessary complications we can do without.]

Berelson, Bernard, R. (1912-1979): Linguistic philosopher, famous for formalising the practice of content analysis as a research method in linguistics (Berelson, 1952).

Binding: [See firstly government and binding theory.] The hypothetical relationship between a noun concept in the mind's semantic network memory [glossary], selected to be the subject or object of a given clause, and all the words and supporting nonverbal deictics used in that clause, subsequent clauses, or generally elsewhere in the discourse as a whole.

Binding Theory: See government and binding theory

Box-and-Arrow Model: As used in the various branches of cognitive science, box-and-arrow models are diagrammatically expressed theoretical statements of information flow and processing modularity, either (a) of a cognitive process in general, or (b) of some subsector of communication in particular [see a fuller history]. They are thus an attempt to bring to psycholinguistics the not inconsiderable benefits of modelling as an aid to scientific theorising. There are, however, many technicalities of modelling best practice which fail to be incorporated into psychological models, sometimes because the theory itself is too vaguely specified to be so precisely modelled, and sometimes because the theoreticians lack this or that finer point of modelling skill. [For a detailed list of these finer points, see Sections 6 and 7 of our e-tutorial on "How to Draw Cognitive Diagrams".] 

Bracketing: See labelled bracketing.

Bubble Lexicon: Term coined by Liu (2003/2003 online) to describe a lexico-semantic network structure capable of representing (as most such networks do not) nuance and context effects.

Case: The usual method of inflection for nouns, and reflecting "such contrasts as nominative, accusative, etc." (Crystal, 2003, p63). 

Case Marking Morphology: [See firstly case and morphology.] Morphological changes arising solely from the need to convey case. Common in Latin and the Slavic languages, present but rudimentary in German, and rare in French and English, where it is only still seen in the nominative-accusative-genitive pronouns he/him/his and she/her/hers. [For a clinical instance of case marking morphology failing, see McCarthy and Warrington (1985).]

Chomsky, Avram Noam (1928-): [Wikipedia biography] Linguistic philosopher, famous for more or less single-handedly inventing transformational grammar (and the two primary elements thereof, deep structure and surface structure). Also for having drawn attention to the problems of deixis with his theories of government and binding. Also for popularising phrase structure grammar.

Clause (Grammatical): A clause is the shortest subunit of a sentence to come complete with a verb [unlike a phrase, which lacks a verb]. It is "a grammatical unit that includes, at minimum, a predicate and an explicit or implied subject and expresses a proposition" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). [Now see clause (phonemic), relative clause, and subordinate clause.]

Clause (Phonemic): It is also possible to identify a clause by sound factors alone - see the Key Concept entry at the beginning of Section 2 in our e-paper on "Speech Errors, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology".

Closed Class Words: "One of two postulated major word-classes in language, the other being open. A closed class is one whose membership is fixed or limited. New items are not regularly added [.....] Pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles, etc., are all closed class [.....] items." (Crystal, 2003, p77.)

Coarticulation: The fusing and corrupting of sounds whenever speech is produced at speed. Usually taken as evidence that the processes of articulation are not in direct contact with the processes of planning and sequencing which have gone before. [For a gentle introduction to this rather technical topic, click here.]

Cognitive Deficit: There is a half page introductory inset on this topic in Section 4.4 of our e-paper on "Dyslexia".  

Cohesion: The general usage of this term within linguistics and psycholinguistics is as a measure of the continuity of a multi-segment sentence or paragraph across the segment boundaries. It is the quality of discourse construction which makes a discourse "hang together" (Hellman, 1992/2004 online). Cohesion is improved by the use of devices such as repetitions, synonyms, and co-reference, and is one of the characteristics of children's language which may suffer in semantic-pragmatic disorder [see, for example, Adams and Bishop (1989/2004 online)].

Comparative: See adjective.

Complement: A complement "is a constituent of a clause, such as a noun phrase or adjective phrase, that is used to predicate a description of the subject or object of the clause" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). Often involves the use of the copular "is" or similar complementiser.

Complementiser: A word, like the copular "is", which serves to render the following word or phrase a grammatical complement. Examples: "seem(s)", "if", "whether".

Computational Linguistics: The study of linguistics for the purposes of simulating natural language processing on a computer.

Conjunction: A conjunction is a word which links two related clauses. Examples: "and", "but", "while", "because".

Connectives: A class of words, typically conjunctions but sometimes adverbs, which links two related clauses. Examples: conjunctions = as above; adverbs = "therefore", "however", "nevertheless". 

Connectivity: [See firstly segmentation.] A measure of how well successive segments of a discourse fit together to build an overall narrative. Example: See Hellman's (1992/2004 online) story of additional linking material being added during the translation of Swift's Gulliver's Travels into Swedish, because the translator felt that it improved the connectivity of the original.

Constative: [See firstly pragmatics.] One of the two basic types of speech act (the other being performatives). Austin's (1962) notion of a class of speech act which make statements of various sorts about the propositional truths stored within the mind's semantic network, by which token they may be judged as "true" or "false".

Construction: The framework resulting from the application of the rules of grammar to a phrase, clause, or sentence

Content Analysis: "A research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication" (Berelson, 1952, p18). [Compare conversational analysis and discourse analysis.]

Content Words: (See firstly function words.) These are the semantically important parts of a sentence, that is to say, the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. They are often described as an "open class" of words because new ones are constantly being invented and there seems to be no limit to how many of them there can be. Taken together, they "slot into" the underlying sentence structure to give it its propositional precision. Thus the sentences "Tommy fondly feeds the black cat" and "Tommy hesitantly feeds the black cat" are structurally identical but make totally different propositions, especially as to the nature and size of the black cat.

Context: The word "context" is used within psycholinguistics more or less in its everyday sense, that is to say, to indicate the general circumstances prevailing at a given time. However it then acquires a particular technical importance because it recognises the role played by background knowledge in influencing the judgements and identifications being made by the perceptual and motor pathways further down the processing hierarchy, and that, of course, includes the judgements and identifications being made in phrasing linguistic output and interpreting linguistic input. Hence a source of context effects in general, and the cause of half a century of problems for the science of machine translation in particular. The role of shared context in children's acquisition of mental verbs has been discussed by Montgomery (2002).

Context Effect: An improvement in perceptual speed or accuracy due to the prevailing state of the cognitive system. This may show itself as an ability to guess at poorly heard or unclearly written words, when they would otherwise be to a greater or lesser extent indecipherable. Example: The incomplete word in the following: "We're not out of the w..ds yet". Where an input (i.e. perceptual) pathway is facilitated in this way, it is known as a "top down", or "expectancy", effect. A context effect may be deliberately induced (by a speech and language therapist, for example) by some sort of semantic cueing, in an attempt to facilitate the naming process.

Contrafactive: See mental verbs (non-factive).

Contrastive: An important form of usage of a mental verb in order to signal "that the speaker has unambiguously distinguished a mental state from an observable reality (Montgomery, 2002, p360). Example: "I thought my socks were in the drawer, but they weren't" (Ibid.).

Conversational Analysis: The qualitative and quantitative analysis of a transcripted conversation (and similar, therefore, to discourse analysis, but allowing for more than one person to be immediately involved). A valuable research tool in a wide number of areas, from linguistics [example] and speech pathology [example; Adams and Bishop (1989/2004 online)] to comparative anthropology [example]. [Compare content analysis and discourse analysis.]

Cooperative Principle: See Grice.

Copular "Is": Use of is/was/will be/etc. (i.e. all the tenses, persons, and moods of the verb "to be", or similar complementisers such as "to seem") to introduce the complement in sentences of the form "the man is big". A linguistic refinement which is frequently lost in the telegraphic speech [glossary] characteristic of cases of agrammatism [glossary].

Co-Reference: For practitioners of discourse analysis, co-reference is a rhetorical device for improving cohesion within discourse. As such, it may on occasions resort to classical anaphora. In Chomskyan linguistics, co-reference is used with binding theory to describe the state of affairs in which two words or phrases share a semantic referent. The simplest example of this is in the use of pronouns and nouns to co-refer to the same entity/ies. Pronoun-noun co-reference requires the process of pronoun resolution to decode.

Cybernetics: The science of control [see separate dedicated handout].

Dative: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun or pronoun when associated with a "movement towards" prepositionExample: "To whom" is, we believe, the last remaining instance of the dative in English. 

Deep Structure: [See firstly transformational grammar.] Noam Chomsky's proposal for a primitive sentence code, functionally later than, but not too far removed from, the ideation which is prompting the utterance in question in the first place. Once it has been coded, the deep structure is then progressively turned into a surface structure ready for final motor production. The mechanisms which support this staged transformation are the rules and transformations of transformational grammar. Example: The deep structure [[o'clock][be][what]] might end up as the surface structure "what's the time?".

Deictic: The adjectival form of deixis; hence words of that particular function.

Deictic Anchorage: [See firstly deixis.] Rommetveit's (1968) term for "the role the sentence might play in an ongoing conversation" (Fillmore, 1971/1997, p8), that is to say, what elements from the mind's semantic network it is momentarily talking about (hence anchored to), and what it wants to happen to them. 

Deixis: [Greek deiktikos = able to show.] Deixis (adjectival form "deictic") refers to any use of language to point in some way at a referent. However, as that referent might have been mentioned many words beforehand, or even established without specific mention, it follows that the success of a given deictic intent will often depend upon context. Fillmore dates the formal study of deixis as "deictics" to Frei (1944), and as "indexicals" to Bar-Hillel (1954). Put in formal linguistic terms, deixis is "the phenomenon that elements in a language may have a reference which is dependent on the immediate context of their utterance. EXAMPLE: personal pronouns (I, you, he, etc.), demonstratives (this, that, etc.), spatial expressions like here and there, temporal expressions like yesterday and now, and tense (past, present) are deictic expressions" (source). It follows that there are as many subtypes of deixis as there are types of adverbial phrase, so see the separate entries for discourse deixis, person deixis, place deixis, social deixis, and time deixis. Example: Fillmore (1971/1997) gives a wonderful example of a sentence lacking all subtypes of deixis - imagine how useless it would be to find a shipwrecked sailor's message washed up on a beach one day, which read: "Meet me here at noon tomorrow with a stick about this long" (p60)!

Dell, Gary S.: [biography]. Psycholinguist and connectionist modeller, responsible for the spreading activation theory (Dell, 1986).

Dependent Clause: See subordinate clause.

De Saussure, Ferdinand (1857-1913): Swiss linguist, known by some as the "father of modern linguistics"[selected Internet biography].

Determiner: "..... a class of items whose main role is to co-occur with nouns to express a wide range of semantic contrasts, such as quantity or number. The articles, when they occur in a language, are the main subset of determiners (e.g. the/a in English); other words which can have a determiner function in English include each/every, this/that, some/any ....." (Crystal, 2003, p134). Usually shown in labelled bracketing systems of notation as [det xxx].

Direct Object: See object (direct).

Discourse: "Extended verbal expression in speech or writing" (TheFreeDictionary.com). Communication "beyond the sentence", and accordingly also beyond the ability of traditional linguistic methods (such as grammatical analysis) to comment on (Tannen, 2004 online), and requiring instead some form of discourse analysis. A sustained verbal communication in which a series of separate propositions build upon each other to deliver a more complex higher-order proposition or narrative theme. [See now rhetorical structure theory.]

Discourse Analysis: The systematic analysis of a spoken or written discourse, and thus an important source of objective research data for the study of higher-order cognition. The academic study of discourse structure was popularised by workers such as Charles Fillmore, and requires firstly the segmentation of the message in question. [Compare content analysis and conversational analysis.]

Discourse Comprehension: The cognitive processes - whatever they turn out to be - of understanding discourse. The processes of activating and, if necessary, extending one's background knowledge, during communication, and of directing one's behaviour accordingly. For a more detailed introduction to this issue, we recommend Hellman, (1992/2004 online). 

Discourse Deixis: One of the five types of deixis identified by Fillmore (1971/1997). Specifically, anything which helps us shift attention within, or impose an organising structure upon, a conversation, narrative, or text. "The choice of lexical or grammatical elements which indicate or otherwise refer to some portion or aspect of the ongoing discourse" (Fillmore, 1971/1997, p103). Examples: "the former", "this", "in the last paragraph we saw".

Discourse Marker: [See firstly discourse analysis.] "A Discourse Marker (DM) is a word or phrase that functions primarily as a structuring unit of spoken language. To the listener, a DM signals the speaker's intention to mark a boundary in discourse. DMs are active contributions to the discourse and signal such activities as change in speaker, taking or holding control of the floor, relinquishing control of the floor, or the beginning of a new topic." (source.) Examples: Such words as "anyway", "so", "okay", "I mean", "let's see", and "well".

Discourse Structure: [See firstly discourse analysis.] "All aspects of the internal organisational structure of a discourse [including] segmentation, relations between segments (informational and intentional), anaphoric relations, modal subordination, discourse topic, thematic progression, etc." (source).

Dual Route Cascaded Model: Version of dual route theory by Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993). 

Dual Route Theory: [See firstly transcoding models.] The theoretical assertion by dyslexia theorists that there are two optional routes through the cognitive system when reading out loud, namely the lexical route and the nonlexical route. [See the fuller discussion in Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993).]

Dyspraxia: See this entry in our Neuropsychology Glossary.

Ellipsis: "The omission of one or more words in a sentence, which would be needed to complete the grammatical construction or fully to express the sense" (OED). Alternatively, sentences "where, for reasons of economy, emphasis, or style, a part of the structure has been omitted, which is recoverable from a scrutiny of the context" (Crystal, 2003, p159). Examples: See Hellman (1992/2004 online). 

Explicature: [See firstly implicature.] "The propositions that are explicitly communicated" (Crystal, 2003, p228). 

Expositive: A class of speech act suggested by Austin (1962). Specifically, a subclass of the performatives, whose nature is one of communication and reasoned exchange. The acts of explaining, describing, etc.

Factive: See mental verbs (factive).

Feedback: In general terms, information designed to give knowledge of results, but more specifically one of the basic concepts of the science of cybernetics. In fact, two types of feedback need to be identified, namely negative and positive. Negative feedback is where corrective action is taken to reduce, or "damp", the amount of an error. This is the sort of feedback which gives us the classic "closed loop" control system, the feedback we are already familiar with in biology under the name "homeostasis" (Cannon, 1927). Examples: The thermostat (non biological and biological) and the alpha-gamma spinal reflex [glossary]. Positive Feedback, by contrast, is where the correction is made in the same direction as that of the original displacement. Each pass around the feedback cycle thus magnifies the displacement instead of diminishing it. This means that we can no longer refer to the displacement as an "error", because not only do we want it to be there for some reason, but we also want it to be bigger than it already is. Positive feedback is only needed in control systems if the amplification of a signal is needed.

Figures of Speech: Rhetorical devices. Ways of using language for poetic or enhanced effect in narrative or discourse, first analysed by Aristotle ("Rhetoric", ca. 350BC [details]), and including such instances as hyperbole, irony, metaphor, simile, etc. Expressions "deviating from the normal arrangement or use of words" (EOD). Dr. Gideon Burton, of Brigham Young University, has the full list, with examples, online, if interested - click here.

Fillmore, Charles J: [biography] Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and specialist in the study (a) of deixis (his 1971 "Santa Cruz lectures" on this subject are in Fillmore, 1997), and (b) of frame semantics.

Floor: Used within psycholinguistics in the sense of "to take the floor" - see turn-taking.

Frame: "A term used in some models of grammatical description to refer to the structural context within which a class of items can be used. For example, the frame She saw - box provides an environment for the use of determiners (the, a, my, etc.)" (Crystal, 2003, p188). We may see this term at work in Shattuck-Hufnagel's slot-and-filler model of speech production. [See now tree.]

Frame Analysis: Erving Goffman's (1974) method of discourse analysis (from the book of the same name), in which the term frame is used in the sense of a memory schema, that is to say, as a unit of supranodal conceptual order.

Frame Semantics: A variation on semantic network theory devised by Fillmore (1976, et seq.), in which conceptual structures known as "semantic frames" are created alongside the individual nodes of the network, and act to impose a superordinate order upon them. A variant of a memory schema, in other words, very much in the Schank and Abelson (1975) tradition. Example: The concept of the everyday commercial transaction between a buyer and a seller, which helps to make sense of the individual nodes for "to buy", "to sell", "money", "value", "trade", etc. 

Framework: Will usually be seen in its everyday sense. If it has a specific theoretical meaning at all, it will probably be as a synonym for frame.

Function Words: These are the syntactically important parts of a sentence, that is to say, the prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns. Unlike content words, they are often described as a "closed class" of words because there are comparatively few of them to start with and new ones are only rarely added. Taken together, they provide a precise syntactic framework to express a given type of idea in a particular way. Thus the sentences "Tommy will eat and die" and "Tommy will eat or die" are structurally identical but make totally different propositions, especially as to the nature of what is being eaten.

Functor: Same as function word.

"Garden Path" Sentence: See ambiguous sentence.

Garrett, Merrill F.: [homepage] University of Arizona psycholinguist, responsible for the "Garrett model" of speech production (Garrett, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1990). [See separate dedicated handout.]

Generative Grammar: Any grammar which focuses on the progressive development of the surface structure of a sentence, but especially Chomsky's phrase structure grammar. [See now generative phonology.]

Generative Phonology: The branch of generative grammar which studies the production of sounds in terms of the progressive application of rules, and thus attempts to record the sometimes surprising differences between phonemes and the phones by which they are transmitted. Example: The observation that /n/ actually comes out as /m/ when it occurs before /b/ or /p/, hence "input" is said as "imput".

Genitive: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun or pronoun when used as a possessive. Example: The English his/hers/its pronouns are the genitive variants of the nominatives he/she/it

Gist: "The substance or pith of a matter, the essence or main part" (OED). [See now the entries for Bartlett (1932) and memory for gist in our Memory Glossary.] 

Goffman, Erving (1922-1982): [biography] Sociologist, responsible for the frame analysis approach to sentence analysis (Goffman, 1957). 

Government: [See firstly government and binding theory] The ability of a noun concept in the mind's semantic network memory [glossary], selected at deep structure level to be the subject or object of a given clause, to direct the fine detail processes of generative grammar which follow. The logical prerequisite for binding.

Government and Binding Theory: Noam Chomsky's theory of the relationship between words and their referents (Chomsky, 1981), and particularly of "the syntactic restrictions on the distribution of referentially dependent items and their antecedents" (Arnold, 2004 online). It thus concerns such matters as the placing and form of pronouns (they, them, etc.), reflexives (myself, himself, etc.), and the nature of the mental relationship - the binding - to the noun in question. For as friendly a tour of this often highly obstruse area as you are likely to get, we recommend Schneider's (2004 online) "Introduction to GB".

Grammar: "[Grammar is] the science which treats of the principles of language; the study of forms of speech, and their relations to one another; the art concerned with the right use and application of the rules of a language, in speaking or writing" (Google Free Dictionary, 2003 online). In practice, grammar has two sub-sciences, namely the studies of syntax and morphology, and may be regarded as a collection of phrase structure rules capable of generating a sentence (Monaghan, 1999/2003 online).

Graph: See this entry in our Writing Systems Glossary

Grapheme: See this entry in our Writing Systems Glossary. [Contrast lexeme, morpheme, phoneme, and sememe.]

Grapheme-Phoneme Conversion: [See firstly grapheme-phoneme correspondence.] Hypothetical mental process for allocating phonemes to graphemes by learned rule. Examples: When reading "i" as /i/ or /I/ depending on the presence of a terminal "e" ("bit">/bit/ but "bite">/bIt/), or when sounding out unknown words or nonwords. [See the detailed discussion in Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993).]

Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence: The defining property of an alphabetic orthography, as opposed to either a logographic orthography or a syllabary. The property of allocating individual sounds or sound clusters to individual letters or letter strings.

Graphemic Output Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Ellis and Young's (1988) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known written words and common phrases. Functionally and conceptually, the graphemic output lexicon is one of the mind's four main "surface form" word storage modules [the others being the auditory input lexicon, the visual input lexicon, and the speech output lexicon]. Its main role within the broader spread of cognition is to help the processes of writing turn ideas into grammatically appropriate word strings. But beware, because different theorists adopt marginally different names for the same concept. The graphemic output lexicon is exactly the same as the "written word motor centre" seen in Kussmaul (1878), the Schriftbild seen in Freud (1891), the "graphemic output logogen system" seen in Ellis (1982), and the "orthographic output lexicon" seen in Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992).

Grice, Herbert P. (1913-1988): [selected Internet biography] Herbert Grice was the Oxford philosopher whose 1957 monograph on "Meaning" did much to shape the modern science of pragmatics, helping to focus theoretical attention on the utterance and the processes of implicature. Grice noted that successful communication requires cooperation between speaker and listener. He called this the "cooperative principle", and subdivided it, in turn into a number of general rules, now known as Grice's maxims.

Gricean Inference: [See firstly Grice's maxims and inference in general.] "Our robust abilities to reason about other agents' actions, choices, and motivations" (Stone, 2003/2004 online). Alternatively, the ability to anticipate whether an utterance will be understood as intended (Ibid.), and therefore the basis (a) of phrasing it for maximum effect in the first place, and (b) of monitoring its success or otherwise thereafter.

Grice's Maxims: [See firstly Grice, Herbert P.] The standard ways in which Grice's cooperative principle expresses itself in conversation. Usually presented under four subheadings, namely (1) Maxims of Quantity, to the effect that you should speak neither more nor less than is necessary for maximal understanding, (2) Maxims of Quality, to the effect that you should speak neither more nor less than you have evidence to support, (3) Maxims of Relevance, to the effect that you should not wander from the topic of discussion, and (4) Maxims of Manner, exhorting you to avoid obscurity and ambiguity of expression, be suitably brief, and generally orderly [see full list]. [See now Gricean inference.]

Head: The single most important word in a phrase

Homophone: Two (or more) real (ie. "lexical") words which, though written differently, sound the same. Examples: to/two/too; whine/wine. [But see also pseudohomophone and lexical decision test.]

Ideation: A catch-all term for the higher mental processes (whatever they are) which create ideas (whatever they are). In the specific context of speech production, ideation is as good a name as any for what goes on at the top of the speech production processing hierarchy. 

Illocutionary Act: [See firstly pragmatics and speech act.] Austin's notion of speech being used in a deliberately calculated way. "When we are performing a locutionary act," he explains, "we use speech; but in what way precisely are we using it on this occasion?" (Austin, 1962, p99). For example, with an utterance such as "leave the bill to me" [our example], there may have remained some doubt in the mind of the listener "whether we were advising, or merely suggesting, or actually ordering, whether we were strictly promising or only announcing a vague intention, and so forth" (Austin, 1962, p99). Illocution is thus a combination of "both the intentional and conventional aspects" of a given utterance (Searle, 1969, p45). [See now perlocutionary effect.]

Illocutionary Force: [See firstly illocutionary act.] The relative success of an illocutionary act in linking the locutionary act and the perlocutionary effect on a given occasion. How a particular utterance worked, given what was meant (whether as a suggestion or an order, perhaps). Its particular thrust, on the occasion in question.

Imperative: One of the three basic verb moods (the others being indicative and subjunctive). "Verb forms or sentence/clause types typically used in the expression of commands, e.g. Go away!" (Crystal, 2003, p227).

Implicature: "The drawing of a conclusion from known or assumed facts or statements; [.....] reasoning from something known or assumed to something else which follows from it" (OED). Grice's term for the final total interpretation of an utterance, given (a) everything the listener knows both about language (e.g. the cooperative principle and Grice's maxims), and (b) the context of speaker and world in general. [Compare explicature.]

Indexical: Charles Peirce's term for elements of a discourse which point in some way at a referent [the study area we now know as deictics, before that alternative name was popularised by Fillmore (1971/1997)]. Peirce's term was adopted by Bar-Hillel (1954), who saw indexicals as part of the broader problem of context. The referential decoding of some sentences, he points out, will be the same for everyone (e.g. "Ice floats on water"), whilst others will require knowledge of the place and time of production to decode properly (e.g. "It's raining"). It follows that coping with indexicals is one of the barriers to the development of effective machine translation systems.

Indicative: One of the three basic verb moods (the others being imperative and subjunctive). "Verb forms or sentence/clause types used in the expression of statements and questions, e.g. "The horse is walking" (Crystal, 2003, p231).

Indirect Object: See object (indirect).

Inference: In its everyday usage, inference is "the drawing of a conclusion from known or assumed facts or statements" (OED). Within cognitive science generally, it is "a conclusion that a person can draw from certain observed or supposed facts" (Watson and Glaser, 1991, p6), and within pragmatics in particular, it is the principal enabling mechanism of both Grice's cooperative principle and Sperber and Wilson's relevance theory. [Compare ostension.]

Inflection: The use of particular affixes to "signal grammatical relationships, such as plural, past tense, and possession [but not to] change the grammatical class of the stems to which they are attached" (Crystal, 2003, p233). 

Initiation: This everyday word is often used in psycholinguistics to describe the point at which a given willed act is released for speech production. It is thus the process whereby an act of praxis (willed behaviour) is put into motion, which makes it, in turn, the process most likely to have failed in some way in a dyspraxia

Input Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon (psycholinguistic definition).] A lexicon serving one of the perceptual pathways. These will normally be the visual input lexicon (for textual input) and the auditory input lexicon (for spoken input), although one should suspect there might be others at work in persons capable of reading Braille (a "tactile" input lexicon, perhaps). [Compare output lexicon.] 

Instrumental: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun when used in an adverbial phrase in the "with, by, or using" subsense of manner. Example: In the sentence "The major killed Fred with the dagger", the dagger is the instrumental noun, but, in English, remains in the uninflected form. In Slavic languages, however, the instrumental case-ending is applied, as in Czech "-im", "-em", etc.

Intransitive Verb: See verb (intransitive).

Jackendoff, Ray: [homepage] Professor of Linguistics at Brandeis University, responsible for helping to extend the boundaries of the study of semantics to include the full range of higher cognitive processes. See, for example "Consciousness and the Computational Mind" (Jackendoff, 1990).

"Journalese": English as written by journalists. A form of "telegraphic" language used in newspapers and the like, which is particularly distinctive when used for short headlines for long and complicated stories, because many ambiguous sentences result, as per the examples now listed .....

"German peas plan to blow up Palace" (ITV Teletext, 14th November 2003; ambiguous - in fact, we have a three-word subject, and "plan" is not the main verb; not truly a garden path sentence, though, because you pause as soon as you get to "plan", this not being something peas usually do)

"Spleen cells hope for diabetes cure" ( ITV Teletext, 14th November 2003; ambiguous subject - in fact, we have a three-word subject, and "hope" is not the main verb; again not truly a garden path sentence because you pause as soon as you get to "hope")

"Isolated bus shelters to get lights" (ITV Teletext, 14th November 2003; ambiguous subject - in fact, we have a three-word subject, and "shelters" is not the main verb)

"Child cough attacks linked to roads" (ITV Teletext, 3rd December 2003; ambiguous subject - in fact, we have a three-word subject with a missing "are", and "attacks" is not the main verb)

"Aids drug brain claims disputed" (BBC Teletext, 17th November 2003; garden path - in fact we have a four-word subject, and "claims" is not the main verb)

"Feeding square's pigeons illegal" (BBC Teletext, 17th November 2003; difficult - omitted copular "is" before final word)

"Pair fast hanging over a river" (BBC Teletext, 20th November 2003; difficult - "fast" is the main verb not an adjective) 

"Minister against India jobs block" (BBC Teletext, 2nd February 2003; omitted copular "is" and a four-word complement)

"It's important research into the cause of cancer receives funding" (ITV Teletext, 1st November 2004; false copular is followed by a very late transitive verb - good garden path example)

Labelled Bracketing: Systems of notation for recording a sentence structure on a single line rather than in a tree. This is achieved by representing all nodes and branches in a nested bracket arrangement of some sort. Examples:

[s[np[det the [n dog]][vp [v eats]]]

<S><np><DT>the</DT><NN>dog</NN></np><vp><VBZ>eats</VBZ></vp></s>

[[people]N[ran]V]S

where the outer [s.....] or [..........................]S indicates the outer level sentence structure, and N and V indicate noun and verb as in tree notation. Notation 2 is similar to the structure of the HTML used in building up this webpage, with each <instruction> being cancelled eventually by a matching </instruction>. [See also Penn TREEBANK.] [One of the reason these linear notations have become popular is that they are significantly easier than trees to program from in natural language processing computer applications. 

Lemma: [Greek = "something taken for granted" (O.E.D.); Latin = "the theme or title of a composition" (Cassell's Latin Dictionary).] A word which has evolved to have a number of highly distinct meanings within highly diverse sciences. (1) As coined by 16th century mathematicians (and still used as such within modern formal logic), the word stayed close to its Greek derivation as "a proposition assumed or demonstrated which is subordinate to some other" (O.E.D.). (2) As then developed by 17th century literary scholars it relied more on the Latin usage, and became "the argument or subject of a literary composition, prefixed as a heading or title" (O.E.D.). It thus describes any sort of "contents page" indexing material intended to indicate the nature of the ensuing chapters in a book. (3) This usage then influenced modern linguistics, where the word has come to signify the "headword" (or "citation form") of an entry in a glossary [the example given by the WordReference.com Dictionary - check it out - is that "the lemma go consists of go together with goes, going, went, and gone"]. (4) For botanists, meanwhile, it became the outermost of two bracts.  (5) We deal here primarily with the word's use in psycholinguistics, where it refers "to the syntactic and semantic properties of a word", but NOT that word's "phonetic shape", which is believed to be represented separately (Crystal, 2003, p263). This usage of the term was pioneered by Kempen and Huijbers (1983), and popularised by Levelt (1989). It describes the nature of the nodal entries in the speech output lexicon. The point is that the output lexicon contains primarily syntactic information - semantic information is stored higher up, and phonological encoding has yet to take place. [Example: In putting together the sentence "he went", it would be necessary for the abstract and pre-verbal sememe <move away from; third person; past tense> to activate the entire lemma {go (goes, going, went, gone)}, even though the sentence as finally constructed is going to use the syntactic variant "went".] A word's lemma is therefore a major intermediate stage in the lexicalisation of an idea. Harley and Bown (1998) suggest such attributes as gender would also be coded at this point. There has been some recent debate as to whether lemmas and lexemes are the same thing or not (see, for example, Roelofs, Meyer, and Levelt, 1998/2003 online). 

Levelt, Willem J.M. (): [university homepage] Dutch psycholinguist, responsible for the "Levelt model" of speech production (Levelt, 1989), and currently Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen.

Lexeme: "A lexeme is the minimal unit of language which has a semantic interpretation and embodies a distinct cultural concept" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). Alternatively, it is "a part of the sentence with no internal syntactic structure" (Hyperdictionary, 2003 online). Lexemes are therefore the stuff dictionaries are made of, although the formal definition strictly includes all the morphemes in a language even though most of these would not normally warrant a dictionary definition in their own right. [Contrast grapheme, morpheme, phoneme, and sememe.]

Lexical Decision Test: [This definition presumes familiarity with four-lexicon transcoding models such as that by Ellis and Young (1988), and uses the psycholinguistic definition of lexicon.] The lexical decision test is a simple test of the integrity of the auditory or visual language input pathways. The test is commonly included in psycholinguistic test batteries, and measures a subject's ability to state whether a probe word is a real word or not [that is to say, to decide whether it is lexical or not]. Example: "Is plood a real word, or not?" Successful judgements indicate an intact input lexicon (auditory or visual as appropriate), and failures indicate a defective one. 

Lexicalisation: The overall process of converting a thought into expressive language (spoken or inner). There are many theories about how lexicalisation takes place, in terms of its internal stages. [But see lexicalise, to, which conveys a subtly different meaning.]

Lexicalise, To: To guess at the nearest regular word when presented with a nonword. Example: reading "pool" when faced with the nonword "plood". This form of error is commonly taken as indicating failure in the non-lexical processing routes - real words can be processed successfully in this way, but non-words, for which no prior lexical entry can exist, will fail the normal lexical matching process.  [But see lexicalisation, which conveys a subtly different meaning.]

Lexical Route: [See firstly transcoding model.] According to dual-route theory, one of the two optional information flow pathways through the cognitive system when engaged in the behaviour of reading out loud (the other being the nonlexical route). The lexical pathway develops out of a learner's experience with a language's textual input, and handles the whole known words (unlike the nonlexical route which handles unknown words). [See the fuller discussion in Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993).]

Lexicon (Linguistic Definition): Within linguistics, the lexicon is "the knowledge that a native speaker has about a language" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). Alternatively, "the total number of meaningful units (such as words and affixes) of a language" (Hyperdictionary, 2003 online). This includes information about the form and meaning of words and phrases, and their appropriate usage. [But compare lexicon (psycholinguistic definition), where the concept is more restricted in scope because form and meaning have been deliberately separated.]

Lexicon (Psycholinguistic Definition): Within psycholinguistics, the term lexicon refers to a discrete surface-form (that is to say, non-semantic) word store. This separates it from, but requires that it be linked to, a separate semantic memory containing the corresponding word meanings (or "referents"). Words are seen as "units" in lexicons containing many such units. To use a word from this mental dictionary, you simply have to "look it up" somehow, just as you would with a real dictionary. This means activating that particular word unit beyond its hypothetical activation threshold, whilst at the same time ensuring that no other word unit is allowed to approach its threshold. Four discrete lexicons may be seen in 19th century psycholinguistic diagrams by Kussmaul (1878), Charcot (1883), and Freud (1891), and these four lexicons are now standard equipment on modern transcoding models such as Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992). [But compare lexicon (linguistic definition), where the concept is broader in scope.] 

Listenership: The listener's role in maintaining a conversation or discourse, often subtly, using backchannel signals of one sort or another. 

Local Tree: The first level (or "depth one") expansion of the root of a sentence structure tree.

Locative: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun when associated with a preposition which indicates location. Example: In the sentence "The major killed Fred in the library", the library is the locative noun in an adverbial of place, but, in English, remains in the uninflected form. In Slavic languages, however, the locative case-ending is applied, as in Czech škola ("school") > na škole ("at school"). 

Locutionary Act: The physical act of delivering an utterance. [Now see illocutionary act and perlocutionary effect.] 

Logogen: [Greek logos = "word" + genus = "birth".] Morton's (1979) term for a memory store capable of generating whole known words or phrases in response to a semantically coded input. More or less synonymous with the modern psycholinguistic notion of output lexicon. 

Logographic Stage: The first of the three stages of reading development. Specifically, the one at which words come to be recognised by sight as wholes. It is the ability promoted by "look and say" or "flashcard" methods of teaching reading, and implies the development of the sort of visual input lexicon - or sight vocabulary. Normal children achieve this stage at around 5 - 6 years of age. Errors at this stage are typically visually based, often as a result of a common characteristic (for example, "lorry" being misread for "yellow" because of the shared "y"). However, logographic reading becomes increasingly inefficient as the total number of words in the vocabulary grows, and it soon becomes advantageous to learn the grapheme-phoneme correspondences as well, thus ushering in the phonological stage.

Machine Translation (MT): The use of computers for automated translation purposes. [We have included a full and progressive history of this subject in our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence" - see Section 4.1 of Part 4 and Section 1.9 of Part 5.] 

Manner: In syntactic analysis, any word or phrase indicating how something took place. Hence one of the three main types of adverbial phrase. [Compare place and time.]

Maxims of Manner: See Grice's maxims.

Maxims of Quality: See Grice's maxims.

Maxims of Quantity: See Grice's maxims.

Maxims of Relevance: See Grice's maxims.

Mental Verbs: A relatively small class of verbs describing the basic metacognitive states and operations of the mind, whose study is central both to modern cognitive philosophy and many branches of paediatric and adult clinical psychology. [For examples, see the separate entries for mental verbs (factive) and mental verbs (non-factive). See then mental verbs, acquisition of.]

Mental Verbs, Acquisition Of: [See firstly mental verbs.] Montgomery (2002) reviews how processes of ostension need to be complemented by a Wittgensteinian emphasis on the importance of context in determining a person's reference structures, if mental verbs are to acquire their proper meaning during language development. Such verbs appear in normal development at around four years of age (see Geisser, 2004 online, for details of supporting studies here).

Mental Verbs (Factive): "A term used in the classification of verbs, referring to a verb which takes a complement clause, and where the speaker presupposes the truth of the proposition expressed in that clause. For example, know, agree, realise, etc. are 'factive verbs' (or 'factives'): in She knows that the cat is in the garden, the speaker presupposes that the cat is in the garden" (Crystal, 2003, p175; italics original). Such verbs appear in normal development from around two years of age, beginning with "to know" and "to think". As classified by Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1970), the factives are one of the two main types of mental verbs (the other being mental verbs (non-factive)).

Mental Verbs (Non-Factive): [Sometimes "contrafactive".] [See firstly mental verbs (factive).] As classified by Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1970), the non-factives are one of the two main types of mental verbs (the other being mental verbs (factive)). They are mental verbs describing indefinite states of mind such as "to suspect", "to doubt", "to wish", "to pretend", and "to imagine".

Metacognition: [For metacognition as a factor in attitude change, see the parallel entry in our Rational Argument Glossary.] In its broadest sense, "metacognition" is the act of turning the focus of one's mental faculties onto those mental faculties themselves. It is thus "thinking about thinking", or "knowing about knowing", as when we say "I am certain of my facts", or "It's taking me longer to remember things nowadays". The term was popularised by Flavell (1979), and the whole process is central to the satisfactory development (a) of mental verbs (where cognitive deficits are the explanation of choice for the clinical phenomena making up mindblindness), and (b) of linguistic competence (where cognitive deficits resulting in poor metalinguistic awareness are heavily implicated in developmental dyslexia). 

Metalinguistic Awareness: Metalinguistic awareness is the ability to use words to describe and comment upon other words. Thus, if you know only that the word "sun" refers to the sun, and that the word "bun" is a type of cake, then you have linguistic but not metalinguistic awareness. If, on the other hand, you know also that "they rhyme", then you have commented upon the words themselves (rather than their referents), and you have begun to develop metalinguistic awareness as well; similarly, if you know that "carpet" can be divided into "car" and "pet", or that final "-s", "-ed", "-ing", or "-ish" are syntactically significant morphemes. Metalinguistic skills are important, because they have long been recognised as correlating with reading ability [for more on this, see Section 5.1 of our e-paper on "Dyslexia"].

Mindblindness: This is Baron-Cohen's (1995) generic description for problems in the processing of the self in a social world.

Model: "A model is an alternate, and usually simplified, representation of something. [Modelling] is the means we use to ignore what we cannot understand and to consider what we do understand. The use of models allows us to simulate unfamiliar problems by replacing the unfamiliar with the familiar." (Steidel and Henderson, 1983, p345.) Note, however, that a model "need not resemble the real object pictorially [provided] it works in the same way in certain essential respects" (Craik, 1943). [See now box-and-arrow model.]

Mood: "A set of syntactic and semantic contrasts signalled by alternative paradigms of the verb, e.g. indicative [.....], subjunctive, imperative" (Crystal, 2003, p299).

Morpheme: "A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). [Contrast grapheme, lexeme, phoneme, and sememe.]

Morphology: "Morphology is the study of the internal structure of words [and] can be thought of as a system of adjustments in the shapes of words that contribute to adjustments in the way speakers intend their utterances to be interpreted" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

MT: See machine translation.

Myth: See Campsall (2004 online) on this; also the entry in our Rational Argument Glossary.

Narrative: "A recapitulation of past experience in which language is used to structure a sequence of (real or fictitious) events" (Crystal, 2003, p307). [See now narrative structure.]

Narrative Structure: The structure of a narrative according to a particular scheme of analysis. An important class of memory schema. Example: See Thorndike (1977) on the hierarchy of components in story telling and story memory.

Natural Language Processing (NLP): A catch-all name for language simulation software. [Compare computational linguistics.] 

Negative Feedback: See feedback.

NLP: See natural language processing. (Avoid using this abbreviation, it has a number of competing uses.)

Nominative: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun or pronoun when used as the subject of a clause.  

Non-Factive: [Sometimes contrafactive.] See mental verbs (non-factive).

Nonlexical Route: [See firstly transcoding model.] According to dual-route theory, one of the two optional information flow pathways through the cognitive system when engaged in the behaviour of reading out loud (the other being the lexical route). The nonlexical pathway develops out of a learner's experience with exceptions to a language's normal textual input, and handles the unknown words (unlike the lexical route which handles whole known words). [See the fuller discussion in Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993).]

Noun: "A category of word which typically denotes an entity (person/place/thing)" (Galasso, 2003 online). The usual sign of a noun is that it can successfully be put into the plural.

Noun Phrase (NP): A phrase capable of acting as a noun. Example: "The man with the white hat boarded the train".

Noun Referent: Same thing as referent.

NP: See noun phrase.

Object (Direct): The direct object of verb is the "patient" of a typically transitive verb which can become subject by passivation (after Lingualinks, 2003 online). Thus "I kicked the dog" (where the dog is the direct object of the verb "kick") can be passivised to "The dog was kicked by me" (where the dog has become the grammatical subject of the clause, but remains the semantic object of the verb in that clause).

Object (Indirect): The indirect object of a verb is "a grammatical relation that is one means of expressing the semantic role of goal and other similar roles" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

Open Class Words: "One of two postulated major word-classes in language, the other being closed. An open class is one whose membership is in principle indefinite or unlimited. New items are continually being added, as new ideas, inventions, etc., emerge. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are open-class items, whereas conjunctions, pronouns, etc., are closed." (Crystal, 2003, p326) 

Orthographic Input Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart's (1992) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known read words and common phrases, and therefore synonymous with visual input lexicon.

Orthographic Output Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart's (1992) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known written words and common phrases, and therefore synonymous with graphemic output lexicon.

Orthographic Stage: The third of the three stages of reading development. Specifically, the one at which the child has acquired the full repertoire of processes and processing routes to cope with all the irregularities of the written language. It is also characterised by increasingly efficient movement of the eyes across the page as the transitional probabilities between letters are learned and information is gradually processed in adult-sized chunks. Snowling and Frith (1981, p87) describe this as learning "the letter-by-letter structure of words", and normal children achieve this stage at around 8 - 10 years of age.

Orthography: See this entry in our Writing Systems Glossary

Ostension: "The action of showing; exhibition, display; manifestation" (OED). Obsolete term resurrected by Sperber and Wilson (e.g. 1995) to convey the concept of the provision of evidence of one's thoughts during communication, which activity they regard as an essential partner to the processes of inference. [See now relevance theory and the discussion of mental verb acquisition in Montgomery (2002).

Output Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon (psycholinguistic definition).] A lexicon serving one of the motor language pathways. These will normally be the graphemic output lexicon (for writing and typing) and the speech output lexicon (for spoken output). [Compare input lexicon.] 

Parse, To: To analyse a sentence structure down into its constituent grammatical parts, and then to summarise said structure using one of the available graphical techniques, typically a bracketing or a tree.

Parsing: From parse, to.

Parts of Speech: The standard dictionary classification of words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. 

Passive: One of the two main types of voice. "A term used in the grammatical analysis of voice, referring to a sentence, clause, or verb form where the grammatical subject is typically the recipient or 'goal' of the action denoted by the verb, e.g. The letter was written by a doctor" (Crystal, 2003, p339). [Contrast active.]

Peirce, Charles S. (1839-1914): [selected Internet biography] Logician, mathematician, and early communication theorist, responsible amongst other things for the study of indexicals.

Penn TREEBANK: [See firstly labelled bracketing.] A system of syntactic notation which combines bracketing and indenting. Derives from a project undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania during the 1990s, which accumulated and parsed a data corpus of 4.5 million words of text [source]. For further details, see the Project Homepage.

Performative: Same thing as performative utterance.

Performative Utterance: [Or "performative", for short.] [See firstly pragmatics.] Austin's (1962) notion of a class of speech acts which are not there to give expression to known fact, but which are in effect behavioural acts in their own right. Example: In uttering the sentence "I name this ship Owain Glyndwr", the act is in the present performance; the sentence does not refer to a recorded propositional truth concerning a past event, but is an event in itself. [Compare constative.]

Perlocutionary Effect: [See firstly pragmatics.] The actual, rather than the intended, result of a speech act

Person: "A category used in grammatical description to indicate the number and nature of the participants in a situation" (Crystal, 2003, p344). See also Campsall (2004 online) on this.

Person Deixis: One of the five types of deixis identified by Fillmore (1971/1997). Specifically, anything which defines the participants within a conversation, narrative, or text.

Phone: [See firstly segment.] "The smallest perceptible discrete unit [of sound] is referred to as a phone." (Crystal, 2003, p408). [Compare phoneme.]

Phoneme: "A phoneme is the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). [Compare phone, and contrast grapheme, lexeme, morpheme, and sememe.]

Phonetics: The scientific study of the sound systems used in human communication from a generally anatomical and physical point of view (and thus covering the articulatory and phonatory systems). [Contrast phonology.] 

Phonological Stage: The second of the three stages of reading development. Specifically, the one at which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are being learned, and is the ability promoted by "phonics" methods of teaching reading. What is important is that unfamiliar words can now be "sounded out", enabling them to be recognised as if they had been heard rather than seen. This implies the development of the sort of alternative processing routes described in modern transcoding models. Normal children achieve this stage at around 6 - 7 years of age.

Phonology: The scientific study of the sound systems used in human communication from a generally linguistic point of view (and thus making regular reference to the lexical and conceptual systems). "The patterns into which [sounds] fall" (Coates, 1987, p30). [Contrast phonetics.] 

Phrase: A phrase consists of several words, but is not grammatically complete enough to constitute a clause. Alternatively, it is "a syntactic structure that consists of more than one word but lacks the subject-predicate organisation of a clause" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

Phrase Structure Grammar: "A type of grammar discussed by Noam Chomsky in his book Syntactic Structures (1957) as an illustration of a generative device. Phrase-structure grammars contain rules (PS-rules) which are capable [of] generating strings of linguistic elements." (Crystal, 2003, p353).

Phrase Structure Rules: [See firstly phrase structure grammar.] Many of the rules of language which make up a grammar are concerned with the position words may take within a phrase, and the conditions under which this positioning may alter. These rules are known as "PS rules"

Place: In syntactic analysis, any word or phrase indicating where something took place. Hence one of the three main types of adverbial phrase. [Compare manner and time.]

Place Deixis: One of the five types of deixis identified by Fillmore (1971/1997). Specifically, anything which defines location or location change within a conversation, narrative, or text. Examples: "The most obvious place-deictic terms in English are the adverbs 'here' and 'there' and the demonstratives 'this' and 'that'" (Fillmore, 1971/1997, p62).

Positive Feedback: See feedback.

Possessive Pronoun: A subclass of pronouns, indicating possession. Examples: "My/Mine", "Your/Yours".

Pragmatics: Pragmatics is the science of communicational motivation, that is to say, "of the aspects of meaning and language use that are dependent on the speaker, the addressee, and other features of the context of utterance" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). The study of pragmatics grew out of the works of John Austin, Herbert Grice, and John Searle, and looks in particular at the effect that immediate motive, context, and custom have on discourse

Praxis: Serial motor praxis - or praxis, for short - means the initiation of sequential voluntary (i.e. willed) movement. This can be for any purpose, including locomotion or communication, as long as it is willed. Reflex movements or instinctive vocalisations are not praxis, even though they end up using the same motor pathways and muscles. Praxis and pragmatics actually share the same linguistic root, namely the Greek word prassein = "to do", via its derivations praxis ("doing") and pragma ("deed"). Defects of praxis are known as "dyspraxias".

Predicate (1 - Noun): A predicate is  "the portion of a clause, excluding the subject, that expresses something about the subject. [For example:] 'The book is on the table'." (Lingualinks, 2003 online; italics original). Alternatively, it is "what is affirmed (or denied) of the subject" (source). [See also predication, copular "is", and the difference between attributive adjectives and predicative adjectives.] [There is another example in the entry on argument.]

Predicate (2 - Verb): To predicate is (amongst other things) "to affirm (a statement or the like) on some given grounds; hence [.....] to found or base (anything) on or upon stated facts or conditions" (OED; italics original). Hence the modern usage "predicated upon" as indicating the earlier items in an argument or causal line [glossary].

Predication: [See firstly predicate (1 - noun).] The joining of two ideas by the copular "is" to make a proposition. The idea is explained in detail in James Mill's "Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind" (Mill, 1829, 1869a), of which the following is an extract .....

“The purposes of language are two. We have occasion to mark sensations or ideas singly; and we have occasion to mark them in trains; in other words, we have need of contrivances to mark not only sensations and ideas; but also the order of them.  The contrivances which are necessary to mark this order are the main cause of the complexity of language. [….. One problem is that] communication requires names of different degrees of comprehensiveness; names of individuals, names of classes [….. so that] there is perpetual need of the substitution of one name for another. When I have used the names, James and John, Thomas and William, […..] I may proceed to speak of them in general, as included in a class. When this happens, I have occasion for the name of the class, and to substitute the name of the class, for the names of the individuals. [I therefore] invent a mark, which, placed between my marks, John and man, fixes the idea I mean to convey, that man is another mark to that idea which John is a mark [and] for this purpose, we use in English, the mark ‘is’ [and] say John ‘is’ a man” (Op. cit., pp159-161; italics original).

Predicative Adjective: An adjective used as a complement. Example: "The man is big". [This usage contrasts with that of the attributive adjective.] 

Preposition: A preposition is an adposition which precedes its complement. Common English prepositions are "to", "with", "by", as in "He went to the races". In noun-inflected languages, prepositions typically require a special case ending morpheme on the noun(s) to which they relate. Many adverbial phrases are prepositional, thanks to the ability of the different prepositions to comment upon time, manner, and place. Example: Consider the following bit of Cluedospeak: "The major hit Fred on the head, in the study, by the window, with the hammer".

Pronoun: "A functional word that serves in place of a noun" (Galasso, 2003 online).

Pronoun Resolution: The act of identifying the true noun referent of a pronoun. Unfortunately, with sentences which have been carelessly constructed in the first place, it is not always possible to resolve some of the pronouns. Example: "Earl and Ted were working together when suddenly he fell into the threshing machine." Pronoun resolution problems of this sort account for many ambiguous sentences.

Proposition (1 - Linguistics Definition): Within linguistics, a proposition is "that part of the meaning of a clause or sentence that is constant, despite changes in such things as the voice or illocutionary force of the clause" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

Proposition (2 - Psycholinguistics Definition): Within psycholinguistics, a proposition is the smallest possible unit of truth (indeed this is the definition in common usage within the broader spread of cognitive science). [See now propositional knowledge.] 

Propositional Knowledge: See this entry in our Memory Glossary.

Propositional Network: [See firstly proposition (2).] See the more detailed introduction to this topic in Section 10 of our e-paper on "An Introduction to Data Modelling for Semantic Network Designers".

PS-Rules: See phrase structure rules.

Pseudohomophone: [See firstly homophone.] A non-word which is nevertheless homophonic to a real word in a language, rendering it nonlexical in the visual input lexicon, but lexical in the auditory input lexicon. Example: troo. [See also lexical decision test.]

Pseudohomophone Reading Test: A simple test of the integrity of the nonlexical route in reading out loud. The test is commonly found in psycholinguistic test batteries, and measures a subject's ability to pronounce pseudohomophones like troo, a task which requires no access to the visual input lexicon or the semantic system, but which may benefit from the fact that the speech output lexicon will already be well practised at producing the sounds of the homophone true.

Psycholinguistics: That area of cognitive science which attempts to reconcile the theories of cognitive psychologists with those of linguistic scientists. Here are some further definitions from the literature: (1) "..... psycholinguistics studies those processes whereby the intentions of speakers are transformed into signals in the culturally accepted code and whereby these signals are transformed into the interpretations of hearers. In other words, psycholinguistics deals directly with the processes of encoding and decoding as they relate states of messages to states of communicators" (Osgood and Sebeok, 1965, p4; italics original). (2) "the experimental study of the psychological processes through which a human subject acquires and implements the system of a natural language" (Caron, 1992, p1), whose central task is "to describe the psychological processes that go on when people use sentences" (Miller, 1964, p29).

Psycholinguistic Test Battery: A collection of simple question and answer tests intended to probe the integrity of the many modules making up the human language processing system. Examples: The tests accompanying the PALPA transcoding model or the assessments section of the Gorrie and Parkinson (1995) dyslexia management package. [See also lexical decision test, pseudohomophone reading test, and synonym judgement test.]

Referent: Literally, the thing referred to [hence often seen as "noun referent"]. "A term used in philosophical linguistics and semantics for the entity (object, state of affairs, etc.) in the external world to which a linguistic expression relates" (Crystal, 2003, p391). 

Referring Expressions: One of the three types of noun phrase recognised in government and binding theory (the other two being anaphors and pronominals (Crystal, 2003).

Reflexive: "A term used in grammatical description to refer to a verb or construction where the subject and the object relate to the same entity" (Crystal, 2003, p392).

Register: ENTRY TO FOLLOW.

Relative Clause: [See firstly clause (grammatical).] A clause introduced into a sentence by a relative pronoun.

Relative Pronoun: A pronoun such as "that", "which", or "who(m)" which is coreferential to, and thus capable of extending the specification of, a noun from a (usually adjacent and preceding) clause. Example: "This is the woman, whom I married". In English, relative pronouns can often be omitted and left implicit, as happens three times in "the dog I own bit the cat I didn't in the house I did" (which would make more sense as "the dog which I own bit the cat which I didn't own in the house which I did own". Alternatively, "in a sentence such as 'He's someone [who you can trust]', the bracketed clause is said to be a relative clause because it 'relates to' (ie. modifies, or restricts the reference of) the pronoun someone" (Radford, 2003 online).

Relevance Theory: Sperber and Wilson's (1995) theory of "meta-representational communicative intention". "Relevancy theory argues that what distinguishes verbal communication from other types of communication is that speakers actively help the listeners understand messages." (Bou-Franch, 2002/2004 online). Relevance theory is thus an "inferential model of communication" (Wilson and Sperber, 2002/2004 online), in which "the linguistic meaning recovered by decoding is just one of the inputs to [an] inference process and which yields an interpretation of the speaker's meaning". A number of processes are at work here, helping to turn implicatures into explicatures. The theory takes as axiomatic the assertion that linguistic analysis as a "bottom up" process will never be enough to reveal the true intent of an utterance.

Rhetoric: "The study of effective or persuasive speaking and writing" (Crystal, 2003, p400).

Rhetorical Structure Theory: [See firstly discourse.] A paragraph-level system for the analysis of the structure of textual discourse, developed by Mann and Thompson (1988) and making much of the role of coherence. For further details, see Mann, (1999/2004 online).

Schema: See this entry in our Memory Glossary.

Scientific model: See model.

Searle, John R. (1932-): John Searle is the Mills Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. After a period of study at Oxford under Austin, he went on to develop Austin's theory of speech acts, firstly in a book of that very name (Searle, 1969), and more recently in a succession of influential publications, notably "Expression and Meaning" (Searle, 1979) and "Intentionality" (Searle, 1983). He is also famous for one of the standard conundrums of modern consciousness studies, namely "The Chinese Room Argument" [detail] (although his American prisoner argument - Searle, 1969, pp44-45 - is just as illustrative).

Segment: "A term used in phonetics and linguistics primarily to refer to any discrete unit that can be identified, either physically or auditorily, in the stream of speech [.....] The term is especially used in phonetics, where the smallest perceptible discrete unit is referred to as a phone." (Crystal, 2003, p408)

Segmental Phonology: "Segmental phonology analyses the speech into distinctive units, or phonemes (= 'segmental phonemes'), which have a fairly direct correspondence with phonetic segments" (Crystal, 2003, p408). [Compare Suprasegmental Phonology.] 

Segmentation: The initial stage of discourse analysis, in which the building blocks of the discourse in question are tentatively identified, and the mechanisms by which they are connected are identified. [See next connectivity.]

Semantic Cueing: See this entry in our Neuropsychology Glossary. [Compare semantic priming.]

Semantic Frame: See frame semantics.

Semantic Lexicon: That part of the lexicon (linguistic definition) which would remain if the four lexicons (psycholinguistic definition) were removed. The meanings of the words known to the mind, but not the words themselves. That which you would be left with if you got a dictionary and tippexed out all the word tags! Usually treated either (a) as a semantic network, or (b) as an unanalysed black box. [See now semantic system.]

Semantic Memory: See this entry in our Memory Glossary.

Semantic Network: See this entry in our Memory Glossary.

Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder: Class of paediatric language problems characterised not by problems with vocabulary, grammar, or phonology, but by "problems with semantics and pragmatics" (Adams and Bishop, 1989a/2004 online). Children suffering from this disorder may thus exhibit "fluent and grammatically well formed" speech (Ibid.) which is, upon closer inspection, socially inappropriate. They are language impaired, in other words, rather than speech impaired. Examples: See the many carefully categorised examples in Adams and Bishop (1989b/2004 online).

Semantic Priming: [See firstly context effect and semantic cueing.] The same general concept as semantic cueing, namely the pre-excitation of some categorial domain in semantic memory. However, whilst "to cue" and "to prime" are largely synonymous, the former tends to be used for the clinical practice whilst the latter tends to be reserved for the experimental manipulation. Example: For an example of the use of semantic priming in a research investigation, see Nation (2001).

Semantic System: [See firstly semantic lexicon.] The mind's higher cognitive system, and the central box on most transcoding models (see, for example, Ellis and Young, 1988).

Semantic Web: See this entry in our Memory Glossary.

Sememe: "A term used in some semantic theories to refer to a minimal unit of meaning" (Crystal, 2003, p412). A memory unit capable of representing "the meanings of words" by coding them in terms of the "semantic features that describe the thing in question" (Hinton, Plaut, and Shallice, 1993, p60). A node in the mind's semantic network. [Contrast grapheme, lexeme, morpheme, and phoneme.]

Sentence: A sentence is "a unit of language which makes sense" (Crystal, 1996, p2), which has been constructed "using the rules of grammar" (Ibid.), and which contains one or more clauses.

Sentence Structure: The sentence as a parsed sequence of words, phrases, and clauses. Its surface structure.

Serial Motor Praxis: See praxis.

Sight Vocabulary: The words which are known as wholes to the visual system, and which require no subsidiary analysis of constituent graphemes. The term is roughly synonymous with the idea of the visual input lexicon. 

Slot: "A term used in grammatical analysis to refer to a place in a construction into which a class of items can be inserted. For example, in the sentence The children - home, the 'slot' marked by the dash can be 'filled' by came, are, went, etc., - a subclass of verbs. Approaches characterised by this emphasis are sometimes referred to as slot-and-filler models." (Crystal, 2003, p421). 

Slot-and-Filler Model: Model devised by Stephanie Shattuck-Hufnagel to explain errors in the phonological construction of spoken words. The model proposes a separate representation of (a) segments (the "fillers"), and (b) a framework (or "frame") of slots to lock those segments into position. 

Small Clause: "A clause that neither involves (i) nominative case nor (ii) a finite verb - e.g. I saw him swimming in the lake" (Galasso, 2003 online), or "John considers Mary intelligent" (Radford, 2003 online).

Social Deixis: One of the five types of deixis identified by Fillmore (1971/1997) (although in fact it largely "absorbs" (p112) person deixis as well). Specifically, anything which helps identify person and immediate role within a conversation, narrative, or text. "The study of that aspect of sentences which reflect or establish or are determined by certain realities of the social situation in which the speech act occurs" (Fillmore, 1971/1997, pp111-112). Example: Deictics such as "Go and wake Grandpa".

Sounding Out Test: [This definition presumes familiarity with four-lexicon transcoding models such as that by Ellis and Young (1988).] The sounding out test is a simple test of the integrity of the grapheme-phoneme conversion process. It is commonly included in psycholinguistic test batteries, and measures a subject's ability to identify a word which fails lexical look-up. Successful sounding out indicates an intact grapheme-phoneme conversion process, and failures indicate a defective one.

Specific Language Impairment (SLI): "A paradigmatic example of a specific developmental disorder [where] there is impairment in a single domain of functioning (in this case language), and the development in this domain is delayed rather than qualitatively abnormal" (Bishop, 2000, p105). For further details, see the website of the Merrill Advanced Studies Centre.

Speech Act: [See firstly pragmatics.] "A speech act is an act that a speaker performs when making an utterance" (Lingualinks, 2003 online - for the full definition, click on the link given and follow the onward expansion). The term comes from Austin (1962), who, when discussing utterances which were being made for effect (e.g. lies, insults, etc.), argued that "the more we consider a statement not as a sentence (or proposition) but as an act of speech [.....] the more we are studying the whole thing as an act" (p20). [See also illocutionary force and perlocutionary effect.]

Speech Output Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Ellis and Young's (1988) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known spoken words and common phrases. Functionally and conceptually, the speech output lexicon is one of the mind's four main "surface form" word storage modules [the others being the auditory input lexicon, the visual input lexicon, and the graphemic output lexicon]. Its main role within the broader spread of cognition is to help the processes of speech production turn ideas into grammatically appropriate word strings [for a full account of which, see our e-paper on "Speech Production, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology"]. But beware, because different theorists adopt marginally different names for the same concept. The speech output lexicon is exactly the same as the "spoken word motor centre" seen in Kussmaul (1878), the Bewegungsbild seen in Freud (1891), the "speech output logogen system" seen in Ellis (1982), and the "phonological output lexicon" seen in Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992).

Speech Production Stages: The notion, going back at least to Lordat (1843), that lexicalisation involves the successive activation of a number of cognitive modules [for a full account of which, see our e-paper on "Speech Production, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology"].

Sperber and Wilson (1995): See relevance theory

Spreading Activation Theory: Gary S. Dell's (1986) theoretical assertion that the nodes of a physically stable semantic network are progressively excitable by the neural equivalent of a ripple in a pool. The initial activation might come, perhaps, from a particular perception or thought, but secondary excitation would then spread outwards through the associations to activate ever more distant nodes. And if the node in question was a word-form node (rather than a conceptual one) then that spreading activation could reasonably be regarded as part of the naming process. For a fuller discussion, see Section 3.1 of our e-paper on "Speech Errors, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology" if interested.

Stylistics: ENTRY TO FOLLOW.

Subject (of Verb): "A subject is a grammatical relation that exhibits certain independent syntactic properties, such as: the grammatical characteristics of the agent of typically transitive verbs, the grammatical characteristics of the single argument of intransitive verbs [etc]" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

Subjunctive: One of the three basic verb moods (the others being imperative and indicative). "Verb forms or sentence/clause types used in the expression of many kinds of subordinate clause, for a range of attitudes including tentativeness, vagueness, uncertainty" (Crystal, 2003, p442).

Subordinate Clause: [See firstly clause (grammatical).] A subordinate (or "dependent") clause is "a clause with an adjectival, adverbial, or nominal function, rather than one that functions as a separate sentence in its own right" (Collins English Dictionary). In other words, it depends upon its relation to another clause to complete its meaning. Example: "I missed the start of the show because the train was late" (Crystal, 1996, p152).

Subordinating Conjunction: A conjunction which subordinates the clause following it. Examples: "if", "because".

Superlative: See adjective.

Suprasegmental Phonology: "Suprasegmental or non-segmental phonology analyses those features of speech which extend over more than one segment, such as intonation" (Crystal, 2003, pp408-409). [Compare Segmental Phonology.] 

Surface Structure: [See firstly transformational grammar and deep structure.] Noam Chomsky's name for the sentence code as it emerges phrase by phrase from the phrase structuring phase of speech (or text) production. The sentence as ready for delivery (but also, upon receipt, ready for parsing).

Syllabary: See this entry in our Writing Systems Glossary.

Syllable: "A syllable is a unit of sound composed of a central peak of sonority (usually a vowel) and the consonants that cluster around this central peak" (Lingualinks, 2003 online).

Synonym Judgement Test: A simple test of the integrity of the semantic system. The test is commonly found in psycholinguistic test batteries, and measures a subject's ability to state whether two words are synonymous, a task which requires access to their meanings. Examples: lie/falsehood.

Syntax: "Syntax is the study of how words are put together to phrases and sentences" (Monaghan, 1999/2003 online).

Tense: The use of grammar to mark the time "at which the action denoted by the verb took place" (Crystal, 2003, p459).

Theme: The broader, non-literal, meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or larger unit of narrative or discourse. 

Thematic Role: "The semantic relationship between the verb and the noun phrases of a sentence, such as agent, theme, location, instrument, goal, source" (Université Laval, 2004 online). 

Theory of Mind: TO FOLLOW.

Three-Stage View of Reading Development: The introduction of choice to the complexities of learning to read, based upon the observation that the cognitive system has to adjust itself gradually to what it is being asked to do. The three stages are (1) learning to recognise words as unanalysed wholes (as when presented on "flash cards"), (2) putting sounds to the individual letters, and (3) learning to deal with all the irregularities. The stage names adopted by authors such as Seymour and MacGregor (1984) and Frith (1985) are the logographic stage, the phonological stage, and the orthographic stage [see the separate entries for these]. Other authors use more sophisticated analyses [see, for example, Stackhouse (1988)] which advanced students should not overlook.

Time: In syntactic analysis, any word or phrase indicating when something took place. Hence one of the three main types of adverbial phrase. [Compare manner and place.]

Time Deixis: One of the five types of deixis identified by Fillmore (1971/1997). Specifically, anything which defines time or time change within a conversation, narrative, or text. Examples: "The most obvious time-deictic words are adverbs like 'now' or 'today'" (Fillmore, 1971/1997, p62).

Transcoding Model: A box-and-arrow model of the end-to-end cognitive system for communication, and necessarily showing inputs separate from outputs and spoken language separate from written. The use of complex block diagrams as an explanatory aid grew out of the early models of attention and memory. One influential early worker was the British psychologist John Morton, whose 1964 model consisted of a single mental dictionary, activated by one or other of two main input routes, but also strongly influenced by context effects and conscious selection. During the following fifteen years, Morton continued to develop this type of model, and in 1979 he allocated the name logogen (from the Greek words logos = "word" and genus = "birth") to the processes which called forth whole words in response to stimuli [see Morton (1979) model]. In the meantime, Marshall and Newcombe (1966, 1973) explained a number of clinical observations by proposing that multiple processing routes operated during reading, each responsible for a different aspect of the process - form, sound, meaning, etc - and each operating "in parallel" (that is to say, simultaneously) [see Marshall and Newcombe (1973) model]. By 1981 Morton had gone to even greater levels of complexity in a 21-box supermodel [see Morton (1981) model], and it is at about this level of complexity that things have now stabilised. The best known of the current transcoding models are those by Ellis and Young (1988) and Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart's (1992) PALPA. The clinical relevance of transcoding models is grounded in the fact that they force us to regard language as a set of complex cognitive processes mapped onto an equally complex set of brain structures. It follows that the better we get to know the rules of this mapping the better we shall be able to diagnose faults when they occur. Faults help us understand the workings of intact systems, in other words, and our understanding of intact systems renders us better able to repair them when they go wrong. [See fuller history.]

Transformational Grammar: A grammar which recognises both the deep structure and surface structure of a sentence, and which proposes a portfolio of phrase structuring rules, or "transformations", capable of turning the one into the other. Transformational grammars became popular in the late 1950s thanks to the writings of Noam Chomsky.

Transitive Verb: See verb (transitive).

Tree: "A two-dimensional diagram used [.....] as a convenient means of displaying the internal hierarchical structure of sentences as generated by a set of rules" (Crystal, 2003, p474). Conventions are to begin with a single upper node representing the sentence as a whole, and then to show sub-nodes for the noun phrases and verb phrases which build each clause. For examples, click here, or here, or here. [Contrast the optional linear (i.e. one dimensional) labelled bracketing notations.] [Psychology students will be pleased to hear that there are websites [try this one] which allow you to type sentences in and get the tree structures computer generated for you.]

Turn-Taking: The exchange of turns, or "floors", during conversation, as signalled by discourse markers such as intonation, pausing, verbal tags, or nonverbal signs (Linguistic Society of America).

Utterance: A unit of speech production perhaps less than a sentence, perhaps more. "In principle, it is a physically definable behavioural unit [or] a stretch of speech preceded and followed by silence or a change of speaker" (Crystal, 2003, p485). The de facto unit of speech production, rather than a grammatically precise one. 

Verb: " A term used in the grammatical classification of words, to refer to a class traditionally defined as 'doing' or 'action' words (a description which has been criticised in linguistics, largely on the grounds that many verbs do not 'act' in any obvious sense, e.g. seem, be). The formal definition of a verb refers to an element which can display morphological contrasts of tense, aspect, voice, mood, person, and number. Functionally, it is the element which, singly or in combination with other verbs (ie. as a 'verb phrase'), is used as the minimal predicate of a sentence." (Crystal, 2003, p490

Verb Argument: "The role played by a particular type of expression in the semantic structure of sentences" (Radford, 2003 online), and specifically to the number and nature of the word-word links required by that structure. Example: In a sentence such as 'John hit Fred', the overall sentence is said to be a proposition, and consists of the subject John and the predicate hit Fred. The verb in this case may be described as having two arguments, John and Fred, representing the two participants in the act of hitting (after Radford, 2003 online). Linguists thus uses the word "argument" in much the same way that chemists use the word "valency", that is to say, as a guide to how their atoms (words) can be fused together into stable molecules (sentences). What is important about hit, note, is that it is a transitive verb. This forces it to have a subject and a direct object argument, but leaves optional the indirect object, and the lexical entry for hit would have to reflect this.

Verb (Auxiliary): A small subset of verbs with closed class characteristics, capable of setting the tense or mood of associated open class verbs. Example: "to be" and "to have", as in "I was sitting" and "I had eaten".

Verb (Intransitive): A verb such as "think", "wait", "hope", "laugh", etc., whose argument structure does not allow a compulsory direct object. Example: "David thought for a while" [where "for a while" is an adverbial of manner, not an object]. [Compare verb (transitive).]

Verb Phrase (VP): A phrase capable of acting as a verb. Example: "He ought to be coming". 

Verb (Transitive): A verb such as "hit", "meet", "greet", etc., whose argument structure requires a compulsory direct object. Example: "David met Goliath". [Compare verb (intransitive).]

Visual Input Lexicon: [See firstly lexicon.] Ellis and Young's (1988) term for the hypothetical mental store for whole known read words and common phrases. Functionally and conceptually, the visual input lexicon is one of the mind's four main "surface form" word storage modules [the others being the auditory input lexicon, the speech output lexicon, and the graphemic output lexicon]. Its main role within the broader spread of cognition is to help the processes of visual perception segment the stream of visual symbols falling on our retinas into recognisable units of text. But beware, because different theorists adopt marginally different names for the same concept. The visual input lexicon is exactly the same as the "text image centre" seen in Kussmaul (1878), the Lesebild seen in Freud (1891), the "visual input logogen system" seen in Ellis (1982), and the "orthographic input lexicon" seen in seen in Kay, Lesser, and Coltheart (1992).

Vocative: [See firstly case and inflection.] The form taken by a case-inflected noun when directly addressed. Example: Note how Brutus takes a different case ending when spoken to, as in Et tu Brute. There is no spoken vocative in English, but the convention is to precede the addressee by a comma in written English, as in "That, my dear Watson, is elementary".

Voice: "Voice is a grammatical category that expresses the semantic functions attributed to the referents of a clause. It indicates whether the subject is an actor, patient, or recipient" (Lingualinks, 2003 online). "The way sentences may alter the relationship between the subject and object of a verb, without changing the meaning of a sentence" (Crystal, 2003, p495). [See now active and passive.]

Word: "A unit of expression which has universal intuitive recognition by native speakers, in both spoken and written language" (Crystal, 2003, p500).

2 - References and Other Glossaries

See the Master References List

Memory Glossary

Neuropsychology Glossary

History of Human Writing Systems Glossary

Research Methods and Psychometrics Glossary

[Home]