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Can linguistics contribute to the study of verbal behavior?

Authors
  • Julià, P
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Behavior analyst / MABA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1982
Volume
5
Issue
1
Pages
9–19
Identifiers
PMID: 22478553
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

A number of publications during the last decade reveal a growing interest in linguistics and psycholinguistics among some radical behaviorists, who have proposed a direct rapprochement between a formal analysis of language and a functional account. It is argued that whereas function has to do with the circumstances under which verbal behavior is emitted, structure has to do with its "internal organization," the ways in which sentences or parts thereof are presumably interrelated. These are said to be different dimensions of verbal behavior; together they should lead toward a coherent psychology of language. But psychologists bent on incorporating techniques from linguistics should be aware of its underlying assumptions, lest their work be deflected in essentially unproductive directions. The line between rapprochement and subservience is thin indeed, as the extant literature shows. This paper traces the development of mainstream contemporary psycholinguistics and examines the linguist's assumptions about the subject matter in the light of a behavioral analysis. The possibility of an effective reconciliation seems to be a long way off.

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