Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 29–47 | Cite as

Sources of History for “A Psychology of Verbal Communication”



There is a standard version of the history of modern mainstream psycholinguistics that emphasizes an extraordinary explosion of research in mid twentieth century under the guidance and leadership of George A. Miller and Noam Chomsky. The narrative is cast as a dramatic shift away from behavioristic principles and toward mentalistic principles based largely on transformational linguistics. A closer view of the literature diminishes the historical importance of behaviorism, shows a prevailing “written language bias” (Linell in The written language bias in linguistics: Its nature, origins and transformations, Routledge, London, 2005, p. 4) in psycholinguistic research, and elevates some theoretical and empirical thinking of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries on language and language use to a far more important role than has heretofore been acknowledged. In keeping with the theoretical and methodological perspective of the present article, it is particularly appropriate that the German philologist Philipp Wegener be “given his due in the annals of linguistic sciences” (Koerner 1991, p. VI*). In his (1885/1991) Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens (Investigations regarding the fundamental questions of the life of language; our translation), he began his philological research with the investigation of actual speaking in everyday settings rather than with analyses of purely formal structure. Moreover, he emphasized understanding language and localized this function in the listener. Compatible with Wegener’s own investigations is another aspect of speaking that has been most seriously neglected throughout the history of research on the psychology of verbal communication. For him, as well as for Esper (In C. Murchison [Ed.], A handbook of social psychology, Clark University Press, Worchester, MA, 1935), the basic and primary genre of dialogical discourse was not ongoing conversation, but the occasional use of speech in association with other activities. Both Bühler (Sprachtheorie, Fischer, Stuttgart, 1934/1982) and Wittgenstein (Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical investigations, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1958) have also emphasized the importance of the genre of occasional speaking. The article concludes with a discussion of historical shifts in the relationship between psychology and linguistics.


Psychology of language (Experimental) Psycholinguistics Philipp Wegener Occasional speaking 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abse, D. W. (1971). Speech and reason: Language disorder in mental disease and A translation of The life of speech, by Philipp Wegener. Charlottesville, VA: The University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  2. Adams S., Powers F. F. (1929) The psychology of language. Psychological Bulletin 25: 241–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andresen J. T. (1990) Linguistics in America 1769–1924: A critical history. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Arens H. (1980) Geschichte der Linguistik. In: Althaus H. P., Henne H., Wiegand H. E. (eds) Lexikon der germanistischen Linguistik (2nd ed.). Niemeyer, Tübingen, pp 97–107Google Scholar
  5. Baars, B. (eds) (1986) The cognitive revolution in psychology. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Baldauf H. (2002) Knappes Sprechen. Niemeyer, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartschat B. (1996) Methoden der Sprachwissenschaft: Von Hermann Paul bis Noam Chomsky. Ernst Schmidt, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  8. Bates E., Devescovi A., Wulfeck B. (2001) Psycholinguistics: A cross-language perspective. Annual Review of Psychology 52: 369–396CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Blumenthal A. L. (1970) Language and psychology: Historical aspects of psycholinguistics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Blumenthal A. L. (1985) Psychology and linguistics: The first half-century. In: Koch S., Leary D. E. (eds) A century of psychology as science. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 804–824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boland J. E. (2005) Cognitive mechanisms and syntactic theory. In: Cutler A. (eds) Twenty-first century psycholinguistics: Four cornerstones. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp 23–42Google Scholar
  12. Bühler, K. (1934/1982). Sprachtheorie. Stuttgart: Fischer.Google Scholar
  13. Carroll J. B. (1985) Psychology and linguistics: Detachment and affiliation in the second half-century. In: Koch S., Leary D. E. (eds) A century of psychology as science. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 825–854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cattell J. M. (1886) The time it takes to see and name objects. Mind 11: 63–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark H. H. (1996) Using language. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark H. H., Fox Tree J. E. (2002) Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking. Cognition 84: 73–111CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Clark H. H., Van der Wege M. M. (2002) Psycholinguistics. In: Pashler H. (eds) Stevens’ handbook of experimental psychology: Vol. 2. Memory and cognitive processe (3rd ed.). Wiley, New York, pp 209–259Google Scholar
  18. Danks J. H., Glucksberg S. (1980) Experimental psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 31: 391–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ebbinghaus, H. (1885/1992). Über das Gedächtnis: Untersuchungen zur experimentellen Psychologie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  20. Ervin-Tripp S. M., Slobin D. I. (1966) Psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 17: 435–474CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Esper E. A. (1918) A contribution to the experimental study of analogy. Psychological Review 25: 468–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Esper E. A. (1921) The psychology of language. Psychological Bulletin 18: 490–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Esper E. A. (1935) Language. In: Murchison C. (eds) A handbook of social psychology. Clark University Press, Worchester, MA, pp 417–460Google Scholar
  24. Esper E. A. (1968) Mentalism and objectivism in linguistics: The sources of Leonard Bloomfield’s psychology of language. Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Esper E. A. (1973) Analogy and association in linguistics and psychology. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GAGoogle Scholar
  26. Faris E. (1919) The psychology of language. Psychological Bulletin 16: 93–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fillenbaum S. (1971) Psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 22: 251–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fitch W. T. (2005) Computation and cognition: Four distinctions and their implications. In: Cutler A. (eds) Twenty-first century psycholinguistics: Four cornerstones. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp 381–400Google Scholar
  29. Foss D. J. (1988) Experimental psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 39: 301–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gardiner A. (1932) The theory of speech and language. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Garrod S., Pickering M. J. (2007) Alignment in dialogue. In: Gaskell M. G. (eds) The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 443–451Google Scholar
  32. Innes R. E. (1985) Articulation as emendation: Philipp Wegener’s anti-formalist theory of language. In: Deely J. (eds) Semiotics 1984. University Press of America, Washington, DC, pp 577–587Google Scholar
  33. Innes R. E. (1986) Introduction. In: Hörmann H. (eds) Meaning and context: An introduction to the psychology of language. Plenum Press, New York, pp 1–29Google Scholar
  34. Johnson-Laird P. N. (1974) Psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 25: 135–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Judd C. H. (1910) Psychology. Scribner’s, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Judd C. H. (1926) The psychology of social institutions. Macmillan, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kantor, J. R. (1936). An objective psychology of grammar. Indiana University Publications Science Series No. 1. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.Google Scholar
  38. Knobloch, C. (1991) Introduction. In: P. Wegener, Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens. (pp. xi*–li*) Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  39. Koerner, K. (1991) Editor’s foreword. In: P. Wegener Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens. (pp. V*–VII*) Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  40. Lazarus, M. (1879/1986). Gespräche. Berlin: Henssel.Google Scholar
  41. Linell P. (2005) The written language bias in linguistics: Its nature, origins and transformations. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McGranahan D.V. (1936) The psychology of language. Psychological Bulletin 33: 178–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Merriam-Webster, Inc. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.Google Scholar
  44. Miller G. A. (1954) Communication. Annual Review of Psychology 5: 401–420CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Miller, G. A. (1965). The psycholinguists: On the new scientists of language. In C. E. Osgood & T. A. Sebeok (Eds.), Psycholinguistics: A survey of theory and research problems (pp. 293–307). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press (originally published in Encounter, 1964, 23, 29–37).Google Scholar
  46. Nerlich B. (1990) Language in change: Whitney, Bréal, and Wegener. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. O’Connell D. C. (1988) Critical essays on language use and psychology. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. O’Connell D. C., Kowal S. (2003) Psycholinguistics: A half century of monologism. American Journal of Psychology 116: 191–212CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. O’Connell D. C., Kowal S. (2005) Uh and um revisited: Are they interjections for signalling delay? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 34: 555–576CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. O’Connell D. C., Kowal S. (2008) Communicating with one another: Toward a psychology of spontaneous spoken discourse. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. O’Connell D. C., Kowal S. (2009) The evolution of modern psychology: A critical, forward-looking perspective on some pioneers. Zeitschrift für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology 217: 73–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. O’Connell, D. C., & Kowal, S. (in press). Psycholinguistics in historical perspective: From monologue to dialogue. In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the history of the theories of psychology. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  53. Paul, H. (1920/1975). Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  54. Pronko N. H. (1946) Language and psycholinguistics: A review. Psychological Bulletin 43: 189–239CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Rieber R. W., Vetter H. (1979) Theoretical and historical roots of psycholinguistic research. In: Aaronson D., Rieber R. W. (eds) Psycholinguistic research: Implications and applications. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp 21–61Google Scholar
  56. Rubenstein H., Aborn M. (1960) Psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Psychology 11: 291–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sabin, E. J., & O’Connell, D. C. (2006). The microarchitecture of modern psycholinguistics [Review of the book Twenty-first century psycholinguistics: Four cornerstones]. PsycCRITIQUES: Contemporary psychology—APA review of books, 51. Article 14. Retrieved February 16, 2006, from the PsycCRITIQUES database.Google Scholar
  58. Saporta, S. (1961) Preface. In: Saporta S., & Bastian J. R. Psycholinguistics: A book of readings (p. v f.). New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  59. Sinclair, J. (Ed.). (2003). Collins cobulid advanced learner’s english dictionary (4th ed.). Glasgow: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  60. Skinner B. F. (1957) Verbal behavior. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Skinner B. F. (1961) The semantic aspects of linguistic events: The problem of reference. In: Saporta S., Bastian J. R. (eds) Psycholinguistics: A book of readings. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, pp 228–239Google Scholar
  62. Stern C., Stern W. (1907) Die Kindersprache. J. A. Barth, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  63. Stumpf C. (1924) Singen und Sprechen. Zeitschrift für Psychologie 94: 1–37Google Scholar
  64. Svartvik J., Quirk R. (1980) A corpus of English conversation. Gleerup, LundGoogle Scholar
  65. von der Gabelentz, G. (1901/1984). Die Sprachwissenschaft: Ihre Aufgaben, Methoden und bisherigen Ergebnisse. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.Google Scholar
  66. Wegener, P. (1885/1991). Untersuchungen über die Grundfragen des Sprachlebens (Newly edited). Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  67. Weiss A. P. (1925) Linguistics and psychology. Language 1: 52–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wittgenstein L. (1958) Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  69. Wundt W. (1916) Elements of folk psychology (E. L. Schaub, Trans.). Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  70. Wundt W. (1921) Die Sprache, 2 Vols. Kroner, StuttgartGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Technical University of BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations