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Title:Using Psychological Realism to Advance Phonological Theory
Authors:Matthew Goldrick
Comment:Slightly revised version to appear in J. Goldsmith, J. Riggle, & A. Yu (Eds.) Handbook of phonological theory (2nd edition).
Abstract:Following its introduction by Sapir (1933), the term “psychological reality” has provoked intense reactions from within linguistics as well its neighboring disciplines. The claim that linguistic systems define a capacity (or competence) possessed by individual speakers of a language has focused attention on the correspondence between constructs from linguistic theories and the cognitive systems of individual speaker-hearers. Psychological realism views such correspondences as cornerstones of linguistic research--both in terms of empirical practice and theory development. This chapter considers the content and import of this approach. Three core issues are considered:

i) What is psychological realism? Psychological realism adopts a cognitive psychological perspective to explain human linguistic behavior. This offers a functional-level account of how different components of the human cognitive system interact to yield particular behaviors.

ii)Why is psychological realism critical for linguistic research? Human behavior always reflects the interaction of multiple cognitive components. Without making explicit (and empirically justified) assumptions about the nature of these interactions, we cannot correctly draw inferences about the structure of the cognitive system. The perils of failing to specify these assumptions will be illustrated using well-formedness judgments.

iii)How can psychological realism help resolve theoretical issues in linguistics? If we take seriously the need to articulate the functional architecture underlying specific tasks, we can better understand the import of behavioral data. This can help resolve outstanding theoretical questions such as the nature of the relationship between lexical and grammatical knowledge.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1