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Book: The Five-Minute Linguist

Chapter: 18. Why Do Linguists Study Brains?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38137


Everything we know and everything we know how to do must be stored in our brains. So language and everything we know about it is in our brains: how to pronounce words, what they mean, how to put them together to make sentences, and how to use sentences plus tone of voice, loudness, etc. to communicate our thoughts. Linguists study brains for two reasons: Some join teams of clinical researchers working to understand how particular brain injuries cause particular language problems. Other linguists study brains because they want to know whether language is stored in our brains in separate parts, ‘knowledge’ and ‘mechanisms for speaking and understanding’, or as a single integrated system for speaking and understanding.

Chapter Contributors

  • Lise Menn ( - lmenn) 'University of Colorado, Boulder'