Course title:  Psycholinguistics
Irena Zovko Dinković, PhD, associate professor
ECTS credits: 
  3rd (winter) term of graduate studies
Course form: 
4 hours of lecture per week

Enrollment requirements:
  introduce the students to the basic concepts of the area of study, namely the acquisition, perception and comprehension of language, in order to explore the relationship between language, thought and culture.

Week by week schedule:


Week Topic
1. General information about the course. Introduction to the key concepts of psycholinguistics. Language and communication: is language specific to humans?
2. Animal communication and human communication. Feral children and the critical age issue.
3. The cognitive basis of language: how children learn language. The nature vs. nurture debate
4. Early semantic and syntactic development. Bilingualism and second language learning.
5. The biological basis of language: language and the brain.
6. Language disorders: aphasias and dyslexias. Other language-related disorders. Sign language.
8. The structure of sentences. Word meaning. Comprehension.
9. The structure and content of the ‘mental lexicon’: how humans learn and store words, how they find the right word and understand the words of others. Lexical retrieval.
10. Language and memory: long-term memory and short-term (working) memory.
11. Language processing: bottom-up and top-down processing; serial and parallel processing. Perceptual and conceptual information. The role of context.
12. Productive language skills: writing and speaking.
13. Receptive language skills: reading and listening. The whole-word approach vs. the decoding approach.
14. The social basis of language: the relationship between language, thought and culture.

Course description:
The course covers the key topics organized in weekly units. After most units the students do exercises which they check in class with the lecturer. The students are also expected to read at home relevant chapters from the obligatory readings and are advised to read selected parts from additional literature, which further help them to acquire better insight into the subject matter.

Course requirements:
The students are advised to attend the course regularly and are encouraged to actively participate in class. There is one review at mid-semester and a final review during the last week of the course. At the end of the course the students take a written exam.

Obligatory reading:
– Field, John (2003) Psycholinguistics, London and New York: Routledge
– Harley, Trevor (2001) The Psychology of Language: From Data to Theory, Hove and New York: Psychology Press Ltd.
– Steinberg, Danny, Hiroshi Nagata and David Aline (2001, 2nd ed.) Psycholinguistics: Language, Mind and World, Harlow: Longman

Suggested reading:
– Aitchison, Jean (1998, 4th ed.) The Articulate Mammal: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics London and New York: Routledge
– Aitchison, Jean (2003) Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon, Oxford: Blackwell
– Anderson, Stephen and David Lightfoot(2002) The Language Organ: Linguistics as Cognitive Physiology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (selected chapters)
– Burling, Robbins (2005) The Talking Ape: How language evolved, Oxford: Oxford University Press
– Field, John (2005) Language and the Mind, London and New York: Routledge
– Pinker, Steven (2007) The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, New York: Viking