Psycholinguist Giosuè Baggio sheds light on the thrilling, evolving field of neurolinguistics, where neuroscience and linguistics meet.
What exactly is language? At first thought, it’s a continuous flow of sounds we hear, sounds we make, scribbles on paper or on a screen, movements of our hands, and expressions on our faces. But if we pause for a moment, we find that behind this rich experiential display is something different: the smaller and larger building blocks of a Lego-like game of construction, with parts of words, words, phrases, sentences, and larger structures still.
We can choose the pieces and put them together with some freedom, but not anything goes. There are rules, constraints. And no half measures. Either a sound is used in a word, or it’s not; either a word is used in a sentence, or it’s not. But unlike Lego, language is abstract: Eventually, one runs out of Lego bricks, whereas there could be no shortage of the sound b, and no cap on reusing the word “beautiful” in as many utterances as there are beautiful things to talk about.
Read the full article at: thereader.mitpress.mit.edu