The psychology of linguistic form

Osterhout, Lee; Wright, Richard; Allen, M. D. (2010). The psychology of linguistic form. In P.C. Hogan (Ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Sciences.

Humans can generate and comprehend a stunning variety of conceptual messages, ranging from sophisticated types of mental representations, such as ideas, intentions, and propositions, to more primal messages that satisfy demands of the immediate environment, such as salutations and warnings. In order for these messages to be transmitted and received, however, they must be put into a physical form, such as a sound wave or a visual marking.  As noted by the Swiss linguist de Saussure (2002), the relationship between mental concepts and physical manifestations of language is almost always arbitrary.

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