Reflections on Psycholinguistic Theories by Professor Nigel Duffield (1981)
In a work that is part memoir, part monograph, Nigel Duffield offers a set of lyrical reflections on theories of Psycholinguistics, which is concerned with how speakers use the languages they control, as well as with how such control is acquired in the first place. Written for professionals and enthusiastic amateurs alike, this book offers a ‘well-tempered’ examination of the conceptual and empirical foundations of the field. In developing his ideas, the author draws on thirty years of direct professional experience of psycholinguistic theory and practice, across various sub-disciplines, including theoretical linguistics, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and philology. The author’s personal experience as a language learner – more importantly, as the father of three bilingual children – also plays a crucial role in shaping the discussion. Using examples from popular literature, song, poetry, and comedy, the work examines many of the foundational questions that divide researchers from different intellectual traditions: these include the nature of ‘linguistic competence’, the arbitrariness of language, and the theoretical implications of variation between speakers and across languages.