Plans and Semantics in Human Processing of Language

Henry Hamburger*, Stephen Crain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The analogy between humans and computers as language processors has previously been exploited primarily with respect to the parsing or analysis phase of processing, as opposed to a synthesis phrase. Here we pursue the analogy on the synthesis side by positing cognitive algorithms that correspond to target language code generated by a compiler. We consider the computational resource demands of these cognitive algorithms and compare them to what is required to carry out syntactic and semantic processing. It is argued that cognitive demands are responsible for certain empirical results in developmental psycholinguistics that have previously been attributed to syntactic complexity. The analysis suggests new empirical studies whose results, in turn, provide support for the analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-136
Number of pages36
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


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