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Foundations of Language

Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution

Ray Jackendoff

September 2003

ISBN: 9780199264377

504 pages

In Stock

Price: £31.99



A landmark in linguistics and cognitive science. Ray Jackendoff proposes a new holistic theory of the relation between the sounds, structure, and meaning of language and their relation to mind and brain. Foundations of Language exhibits the most fundamental new thinking in linguistics since Noam Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax in 1965 — yet is readable, stylish, and accessible to a wide readership. Along the way it provides new insights on the evolution of language, thought, and communication.

  • A radical step forward in linguistics and in understanding of the interconnection of language, the brain, and perception
  • The most fundamental reexamination and reformulation of lingusitic theory since the publication of Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax in 1965
  • Reintegrates linguistics with philosophy of mind, cognitive and developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and computer science
  • Author has lectured on the book in Berlin, Madrid, Paris (April 2003), Athens, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Cambridge MA, and has appeared on numerous US TV and radio programmes

About the Author(s)

Ray Jackendoff, co-director, Dan Dennett Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University

Table of Contents

    Part I: Psychological and Biological Foundations
    1: The Complexity of Linguistic Structure
    2: Language as a Mental Phenomenon
    3: Combinatoriality
    4: Universal Grammar
    Part II: Architectural Foundations
    5: The Parallel Architecture
    6: Lexical Storage Versus Online Construction
    7: Implications for Processing
    8: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Architecture
    Part III: Semantic and Conceptual Foundations
    9: Semantics as a Mentalistic Enterprise
    10: Reference and Truth
    11: Lexical Semantics
    12: Phrasal Semantics
    13: Concluding Remarks


"The book is ... a fascinating introduction to the world of linguistics. ... I found the book extremely interesting, captivating and important. If you are not sure about certain basic facts in the research of natural language, read this book. It will provide you with quite an objective view of the development of the research of language on all aspects." - Linguist List

"A masterpiece" - Nature

"I believe this book has the potential to reorient linguistics more decisively than any book since Syntactic Structures shook the discipline almost half a century ago." - Robbins Burling, Language in Society

"An excellent overview of the complexities of language" - New Scientist