TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Juni 2010

Sektion 2.7. Neue Entwicklungen in der Psycholinguistik / New Developments in Psycholinguistics
Sektionsleiterin | Section Chairs: Elly Brosig (Stuttgart, Germany)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Deutsch | English

Section report 2.7.

New Developments in Psycholinguistics

Elly Brosig (Stuttgart, Germany) [BIO]



With the enlargement of the European Union and an overall globalization a large part of psycholinguistic research during the past years has concentrated on foreign language learning and teaching, as well as multilingual and intercultural communication. - The research is focussed, on the one hand, on basic problems, how languages are processed in  the brain, and, on the other hand, on applied psycholinguistics, e.g., the problem of adequate translation, efficient methods of foreign language teaching and learning, or problems in multilingual communication. - The aim  of  psycholinguistic research in these sections is to lay the basis for  new and better methods for language teachers and learners by empirical research. Such empirical projects will be presented in this section.

The introductory paper by Elly Brosig How we identify and control different languages presented her recent project. The results substantiated by a large experiment showed that written language is mostly identified by visual (orthographic or iconic),  morphological and, if possible, semantic features, whereas in spoken speech not only phonetic, morphological, and semantic features are used to identify a language, but also prosodic ones. This is a new finding not yet described in literature. - These visual, phonetic, prosodic and morphological features seem to be closely connected to a ‘language tag’ which defines a word as e.g. German, English, or Polish. Such a language tag belongs to the properties of each word like its semantic meaning and its grammatical function. However, the above-mentioned features seem to form  a separate module, for we can usually identify a foreign language according to the visual or phonetic, prosodic, and morphological features, even if we cannot understand the meaning or syntax.

The participants of this section, who had been invited to repeat the author’s experiment themselves engaged very lively in the discussion of these results.

In her paper Attitudes and feedback from the relevance-theoretic perspective  Anna Nizegorodcew treated the aspect of communication in a foreign language. - She presented the Relevance Theory as a pragma-linguistic theory which  links utterance with the content and situation in which they are spoken. - In the example of an e-mail communication with a student she demonstrated, how this can lead to misinterpretation because non-verbal support lacks. This is, of course, a problem of all written, but particularly of electronic communication. - The audience agreed to this from their own experiences.

Danuta Gabrys-Barker  tried to show in her paper Note-taking as evidence of language processing with what strategies students process instructor-provided notes in the students second language in the assumption that this might constitute evidence of how language data are processed. - She evaluated in her project a large corpus of students’ notes (in English) as to content, technique of note-taking, structure, verbatim reproduction, or paraphrasing. While all these factors would be indications for language processing, she found, however, that her Polish students mostly produced a passive, mechanical reproduction of content and language with not much evidence of creative processing. - This basically very interesting study will be continued with another set of subjects. - The participating guests were highly interested in this topic, and a Russian colleague will keep in touch with the referent.

In her paper Reading and re-reading second language texts by young learners Heidemarie Sarter  presented a study performed in Johannesburg, South Africa, at a German school with bi-or multilingual children, all non-native speakers of German. The focus was on reading strategies of young learners when reading and re-reading two very similar texts in German. Her assumption was that this might reveal internal learning strategies. The results showed that re-reading produced interferences in the lexis as well as in grammar. This is an indication that the children had already integrated the  first text into their memory schemata. Also she found that an English word in the German text led to phonetic interferences, inasmuch as further words were pronounced with an English pronunciation. The aim of this project had been to examine whether reading followed by text discussion would promote second language learning by children, especially migrant children.

The topic of Andrzej Lyda Verbs of thinking in spoken academic English was about a research project with the aim to analyse how mental processes and states are signalled in academic discourse. His research concentrated on a class of epistemic verbs, also called „verbs of thinking“, such as ‘think’, ‘conclude’, ‘assume’, collected in seminars and lectures in two corpora of American and English academic discourse. - The results showed  that the use of verbs of thinking denoting mental states and its frequency, however, is associated with the context of interaction and the development of socio-cognitive skills.

Whereas Lyda had investigated spoken academic speach, Krystyna Warchal’s topic had been written language of Polish and English academics. In her paper Encoding certainty: On some epistemic modality markers in English and Polish research articles she presented how English and Polish academics express various degrees of probability and certainty. Her research based on a large corpus of English and Polish scientific academic journals.- The results revealed that Polish authors seem less inclined to express high certainty than English authors, instead they choose verbs of probability rather than of certainty. -The question arose whether this might be based on cultural differences. However, another explanation could be that the two  verbs compared, ‘must’ and ‘musiec’, while being superficially very similar, yet have a slightly different semantic meaning, ‘musiec’ expressing a somewhat stronger constraint.

A highly qualified discussion followed with the other referents and guests, who were very interested and qualified for the topic. It was noted that participating guests came mostly to the topics that interested them most and then very actively engaged in the discussions.

2.7. Neue Entwicklungen in der Psycholinguistik / New Developments in Psycholinguistics

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

 Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Elly Brosig: Section report 2.7. New Developments in Psycholinguistics- In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

Webmeister: Gerald Mach     last change: 2010-06-04