Talking the Talk

Language, Psychology and Science

By Trevor A. Harley

© 2010 – Psychology Press

352 pages | 50 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781841693408
pub: 2009-12-21
Hardback: 9781841693392
pub: 2009-12-21

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

Language makes us human, but how do we use it and how do children learn it? Talking the Talk is an introduction to the psychology of language. Written for the reader with no background in the area or knowledge of psychology, it explains how we actually "do" language: how we speak, listen, and read.

This book provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to psycholinguistics, the study of the psychological processes involved in language. It shows how it’s possible to study language experimentally, and how psychologists use these experiments to build models of language processing. The book focuses on controversy in modern psycholinguistics, and covers the all the main topics, including how children acquire language, how language is related to the brain, and what can go wrong – and what can be done when something does go wrong. Structured around questions that people often ask about language, the emphasis of Talking the Talk is how scientific knowledge can be applied to practical problems. It also stresses how language is related to other aspects of psychology, particularly in whether animals can learn language, and the relation between language and thought.

Lively and amusing, the book will be essential reading for all undergraduate students and those new to the topic, as well as the interested lay reader.


"Clear and accessible … It is an enjoyable read at a very good price … it would be perfect for individuals just starting a speech and language therapy course or for those looking to brush up on some of the fundamental theories and approaches to speech and language." – Catherine Cole in Speech and Language Therapy in Practice

"In the new book Talking the Talk: Language, Psychology, and Science by Trevor Harley, one finds both a lively and amusing introduction to the field. He strikes the ideal tone for a gentle introduction to the topic, with witty asides and self-deprecating humor." - Shelia Kennison and Rachel Messer in PsycCRITIQUES

"A road trip through the varied landscape of psycholinguistics—including photos! Harley’s approachable style and frequent personal asides make the esoteric aspects of the field understandable, and he shows how everyday phenomena, such as "slips of the tongue" or children’s babblings, provide deep insight into how language works. Despite containing some fun topics, the book does not dumb down the science; it includes the latest findings from neuroscience and computational modeling and can function as quick reference for the expert as well as a thorough introduction for anyone who has marveled at our ability to speak." -Gary Dell, Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

"This is the kind of book that one needs not simply for ideas on which aspects of psycholinguistics to teach, formally or informally, but also for ideas on how to present those different aspects in an engaging and informative way. Psycholinguistics has become an increasingly broad science, and Trevor Harley is the perfect guide." - Professor Gerry T.M. Altmann, Department of Psychology, University of York, UK

"Harley uses his expert knowledge of the topic and personal anecdotes to help draw the reader into complex scientific and philosophical debates. He enables the reader to develop a good understanding of this complex ability we use every day, in a style that is both clear and engaging." - Nick Lund, Department of Interdiscilinary Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Table of Contents

Preface. 1. Language. 2. Animals. 3. Children. 4. Thought. 5. Meaning. 6. Words. 7. Understanding. 8. Speaking. 9. End. 10. Next. 11. Glossary. 12. References.

About the Author

Trevor Harley completed his undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Cambridge. He moved to the University of Dundee in 1996 from the University of Warwick. He holds a Personal Chair in Cognitive Psychology and is currently Head of the School of Psychology. He is a Chartered Psychologist and his main research interest is in normal and pathological speech production.

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