Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 463–472 | Cite as

Mental Files and the Lexicon

  • Luca Gasparri


This paper presents the hypothesis that the representational repertoire underpinning our ability to process the lexical items of a natural language (that is, the mental lexicon) can be modeled as a system of mental files. To start, I clarify the basic phenomena that an account of lexical knowledge should be able to elucidate. Then, I propose to evaluate whether the mental files theory can be brought to bear on an account of the representational format of lexical knowledge by modeling mental words as recognitional files.


Lexical Item Mental Lexicon Mental File Speak Word Recognition Word Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to François Recanati, Michael Murez, Tomoo Ueda, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable input on the initial manuscript. The usual disclaimer applies. The research that led to this paper has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013, MSCA-COFUND) under grant agreement No. 245743, Program Braudel-IFER-FMSH Program, in collaboration with the Institut Jean Nicod and the Labex IEC, ENS Paris.


  1. Aitchison, J. 2012. Words in the mind: an introduction to the mental lexicon, 4th ed. London: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Allott, N., and M. Textor. 2012. Lexical pragmatic adjustment and the nature of ad hoc concepts. International Review of Pragmatics 4: 185–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allwood, J. 2003. Meaning potentials and context: some consequences for the analysis of variation in meaning. In Cognitive approaches to lexical semantics, ed. H. Cuyckens, R. Dirven, and J. Taylor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  4. Asher, N. 2011. Lexical meaning in context: a web of words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bach, K. 1987. Thought and reference. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  6. Barlow, M., and S. Kemmer (eds.). 2000. Usage-based models of language. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Barsalou, L. 1999. Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22: 577–609.Google Scholar
  8. Barsalou, L. 2003. Situated simulation in the human conceptual system. Language and Cognitive Processes 5: 513–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bormann, T., and C. Weiller. 2012. Are there lexicons?” a study of lexical and semantic processing in word-meaning deafness suggests “yes”. Cortex 48: 294–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caramazza, A., and A.E. Hillis. 1990. Where do semantic errors come from? Cortex 26: 95–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caramazza, A., G. Miceli, M.C. Silveri, and A. Laudanna. 1985. Reading mechanisms and the organization of the lexicon: evidence from acquired dyslexia. Cognitive Neuropsychology 2: 81–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carr, P. 2012. The philosophy of phonology. In Philosophy of linguistics, ed. R. Kempson, T. Fernando, and N. Asher. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  13. Chomsky, N. 1986. Knowledge of language. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  14. Copestake, A., & Briscoe, T. (1996). Semi-productive polysemy and sense extension. In. J. Pustejovsky, & B. Boguraev (Eds.), Lexical semantics: The problem of polysemy. New York, NY: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dahan, D., and J.S. Magnuson. 2006. Spoken word recognition. In Handbook of psycholinguistics, 2nd ed, ed. M. Traxler and M. Gernsbacher. London: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  16. De Brabanter, P. 2010. Constraints on metalinguistic anaphora. In Constraints in discourse 2, ed. P. Kühnlein, A. Benz, and C.L. Sidner. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  17. Denes, G. 2009. Talking heads: the neuroscience of language. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  18. DeWitt, I., & Rauschecker, J. P. (2012). Phoneme and word recognition in the auditory ventral stream. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 109, E505-E514.Google Scholar
  19. Dilkina, K., J.L. McClelland, and D.C. Plaut. 2010. Are there mental lexicons? the role of semantics in lexical decision. Brain Research 1365: 66–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Elman, J.L. 2011. Lexical knowledge without a lexicon? The Mental Lexicon 6: 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Evans, G. 1982. The varieties of reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Evans, V. 2009. How words mean: lexical concepts, cognitive models, and meaning construction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fillmore, C. (1982). Frame semantics. In The Linguistic Society of Korea (Ed.), Linguistics in the morning calm. Seoul: Hanshin Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Forster, K.I. 1976. Accessing the mental lexicon. In New approaches to language mechanisms, ed. F. Wales and E. Walker. Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  25. Frauenfelder, U.H., and L.K. Tyler. 1987. The process of spoken word recognition: an introduction. Cognition 25: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Frost, R., M. Ahissar, R. Gotesman, and S. Tayeb. 2003. Are phonological effects fragile? The effect of luminance and exposure duration on form priming and phonological priming. Journal of Memory and Language 48: 346–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Glanzberg, M. 2011. Meaning, concepts, and the lexicon. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11: 1–29.Google Scholar
  28. Gleitman, L., and A. Papafragou. 2013. Relations between language and thought. In The Oxford handbook of cognitive psychology, ed. D. Reisberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Goldberg, A.E. 2006. Constructions at work: the nature of generalization in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Goldinger, S.D., P.A. Luce, and D.B. Pisoni. 1989. Priming lexical neighbors of spoken words: effects of competition and inhibition. Journal of Memory and Language 28: 501–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harder, P. 2009. Meaning as input: the instructional perspective. In New directions in cognitive linguistics, ed. V. Evans and S. Pourcel. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  32. Hare, M., K. McRae, and J.L. Elman. 2003. Sense and structure: meaning as a determinant of verb subcategorization preferences. Journal of Memory and Language 48: 281–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hendriks, H., and P. Dekker. 1996. Links without locations. In Proceedings of the tenth Amsterdam colloquium, ed. P. Dekker and M. Stokhof. Amsterdam: ILLC.Google Scholar
  34. Herweg, M. 1992. Aspectual requirements of temporal connectives: evidence for a two-level approach to semantics. In Lexical semantics and knowledge representation, ed. J. Pustejovsky and S. Bergler. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Jarema, G., and G. Libben. 2007. Introduction: matters of definition and core perspectives. In The mental lexicon: core perspectives, ed. G. Jarema and G. Libben. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  36. Kemmerer, D., and D. Tranel. 2000. A double dissociation between linguistic and perceptual representations of spatial relationships. Cognitive Neuropsychology 17: 393–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Landau, B., B. Dessalegn, and A.M. Goldberg. 2010. Language and space: momentary interactions. In Language, cognition and space: the state of the art and new directions, ed. P. Chilton and V. Evans. London: Equinox.Google Scholar
  38. Langacker, R.W. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar, Vol. 1. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Laudanna, A., and C. Burani. 1985. Address mechanisms to decomposed lexical entries. Linguistics 23: 775–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lehrer, A., and E. Kittay (eds.). 1992. Frames, fields and contrasts, 21–74. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Levin, B. 1993. English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Ludlow, P. 2014. Living words: meaning underdetermination and the dynamic lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marslen-Wilson, W., L.K. Tyler, R. Waksler, and L. Older. 1994. Morphology and meaning in the english mental lexicon. Psychological Review 101: 3–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McNally, L. 1998. On the linguistic encoding of information packaging instructions. In The limits of syntax, ed. P. Culicover and L. McNally. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  45. Meyer, D.E., and R.W. Schvaneveldt. 1971. Facilitation in recognizing pairs of words: evidence of a dependence between retrieval operations. Journal of Experimental Psychology 90: 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Miceli, G., B. Benvegnù, R. Capasso, and A. Caramazza. 1997. The independence of phonological and orthographic lexical forms: evidence from aphasia. Cognitive Neuropsychology 14: 35–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Morton, J. 1969. Interaction of information in word recognition. Psychological Review 76: 165–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Munnich, E., B. Landau, and B.A. Dosher. 2001. Spatial language and spatial representation: a cross-linguistic comparison. Cognition 81: 171–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nickels, L. 1992. The autocue? Self-generated phonemic cues in the treatment of a disorder of reading and naming. Cognitive Neuropsychology 9: 307–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Perry, J. 2001. Knowledge, possibility, and consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  51. Pietroski, P. 2010. Concepts, meanings and truth: first nature, second nature and hard work. Mind & Language 25: 247–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pustejovsky, J. 1995. The generative lexicon. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  53. Rapp, B., and M. Goldrick. 2006. Speaking words: contributions of cognitive neuropsychological research. Cognitive Neuropsychology 23: 39–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rapp, B., L. Benzing, and A. Caramazza. 1997. The autonomy of lexical orthography. Cognitive Neuropsychology 14: 71–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rayo, A. 2013. A plea for semantic localism. Noûs 47: 647–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Recanati, F. 2004. Literal meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Recanati, F. 2006. Indexical concepts and compositionality. In Two-dimensional semantics, ed. M. Garcia-Carpintero and J. Macia. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  58. Recanati, F. 2012. Mental files. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sander, L.D., and H.J. Neville. 2000. Lexical, syntactic, and stress-pattern cues for speech segmentation. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 43: 1301–1321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Segui, J., and J. Grainger. 1990. Priming word recognition with orthographic neighbors: effects of relative prime target frequency. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 16: 65–76.Google Scholar
  61. Strawson, P.F. 1974. Subject and predicate in logic and grammar. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  62. Talmy, L. 2000. Toward a cognitive semantics, vol. 2 Vols. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  63. Tomasello, M. 2003. Constructing a language: a usage-based theory of language acquisition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Tyler, L.K., L. Waksler, and W.D. Marslen-Wilson. 1993. Representation and access of derived words in english. In Cognitive models of speech processing, ed. G. Altmann and R. Shillcock. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  65. Vallduví, E. 1992. The information component. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  66. Vallduví, E., and E. Engdahl. 1996. The linguistic realization of information packaging. Linguistics 34: 459–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wetzel, L. 2009. Type and tokens: on abstract objects. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wurm, L.H., D.A. Vakoch, J. Aycock, and R.R. Childers. 2003. Semantic effects in lexical access: evidence from single-word naming. Cognition and Emotion 17: 547–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Zlatev, J. 2003. Polysemy or generality? Mu. In Cognitive approaches to lexical semantics, ed. H. Cuyckens, R. Dirven, and J. Taylor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  70. Zwaan, R. 2004. The immersed experiencer: toward an embodied theory of language comprehension. In The psychology of learning and motivation, vol. 44, ed. B.H. Ross. New York: Academic.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Jean Nicod, UMR 8129, Pavillon Jardin, École Normale SupérieureParisFrance

Personalised recommendations