Speaking- Advances in Cognitive Psychology



Speaking is the action of conveying information or expressing one’s feelings in speech. It is the second of the four language skills, which are listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Speaking is the delivery of language through the mouth. To speak, we create sounds using many parts of our body, including the lungs, vocal tract, vocal chords, tongue, teeth and lips. Speech is the product of oral–motor movement resulting in articulation of language: the utterance of sounds and words.

  • How people select the content of speech for conversation?
  • How our speech errors shows systematic patterns?
  • What is the importance of social context ?
  • How our gesture accompany spoken language?

Selecting the content of speech.

  • Speech production requires a series of stages by Garrett,1984.
    • 1st Stage- Begins by working out what we intended to say.
    • 2nd Stage- Then construct general sentence without words.
    • 3rd Stage- Choose both words and their forms
    • 4th Stage- Concert these intentions into overt speech by articulating the phonemes 
  • Sometimes stages might overlap each other.
  • Research  with reaction time data suggests that we tend to select the exact subject of a sentence when we begins the sentence ,verb is partially selected (Lindsley,1975).
  • We plan ahead for more than one sentence when we are speaking (Homes,1984).
  • When we talking about future plans ,we alternate between hesitant phase and fluent phase .
  • Hesitant phase slow because we are planning what we will say
  • Fluent phase we are rewarded for our earlier planning ,so words flows more easily(Beattie,1983;levelt,1989).
  • Linearization problem= problem of arranging words  in an order for expressing the abstract/shapeless idea into sentence.(Bocks,1987 ; Foss,1988). 
  • Selecting active voice or passive voice-
    • Which is easy?
    • Taylor & Taylor in 1990 shows active voice is more easier and we use is 81% of our spoken language.
    • Active voice- ‘’He read the book.’’
    • Passive voice- ‘’The book was read by him.’’
    • Selection of either voice depends upon previous sentence which we heard(Bock,1986).
    • It helps true purpose of sentence.
  • Constructing Description
    • Linda & labov (1975) asked New York Resident to describe their apartment found that responses were quite uniform .like, You walked in front door , there is narrow hall way,…   
    • Also guided tours have  most common descriptions.

Speaking Errors.

  • The speech that most people produce is generally well formed(Bock,1987).
  • However speech differs-pause, two sentences at a time ,extra words oh ,hmm , um ,etc
  • Professors are just as guilty of speech  errors as everyone else(Mackay & Osgood,1959).
  • Slips of tongue. 
  • sounds or entire words are rearrange between two or more different words.
  • Dell(1986)3 kinds of errors
  • Sound ErrorSnow flurries -> Flow snurries , anticipation errors(reading list ->leading lists);preservation errors (walking rabbits ->walking wabbits); deletations (same state-> same sate)
  • Morpheme errorsself destruct instructions -> self instruct instructions
  • Word errorswhen words exchanges e.g. writing a letter to my mother ->writing a mother to my letter.
  • All errors are in same categories –sound to sound ; prefixes to prefixes ; grammatical to grammatical
  • For example, ‘She sells seashells.’
    1. for constructing sentence we must construct representation at words level , fairly well construct before representation is necessary.
    2. We utter highly active sounds.
      • Listener often fail to detect  ‘slips of the tongue’ i.e ‘slips of the ear’(Ferber,1991).


  • Important component of language production.
  • It accompanies language. It provides richness and extra dimensions.
  • Gestures such as movements of arms , hand, face, body position, etc.
  • Speech  and gestures are closely connected , both generated by same psychological processes (Mcneill,1985). 
  • Gestures  develop in child development with language , absent in speech disorder adults.
  • Remarkable uniformity in gestures (Mcneill,1985). E.g. ‘’Ata maazi satkali’’.
  • Cassell  and McNeill argue that gesture is like second eye, providing  new dimension similar to the binocular vision we achieve with two eyes.
  • For example. ‘’Objection MY LORD.’’

Social Context of Speaking.

  • When we speak, what we need to do?
  • We need to selecting the content of speech, avoid speech errors, accompanied appropriate gestures and correct social context.
  • Language is social instrument, not only express thought but to affect next person.
  • Conversation is like complicated dance. Speaker can’t  simply utter word  and expect to be understood.
  • Speaker must also consider listener. It needs coordination (Clark,1985).
  • Moreover conversations involve  an implicit contract in which the speaker must ensure that the listener has the proper contextual background (Harries,1980). 


  • Underlie social rules of language .
  • It includes common ground ,the given new strategy, knowledge about conservational formats  and understanding directives.
  • Common Ground Means conversation share similar background ,schemas as well as experience that are necessary for mutual understanding.
  • The Given New Strategy?
  • Way of coordinating, sentence contain some ‘given’ information which listener already familiar with, and some new information. For example. The last lecture was boring.

Conservational Formats:

    • Social rules, speaker should alternate (hello –hello, hi -bol) (McLaughlin,1984).
    • Don’t talk at same time (in class).
    • No long pause (on mobile).
    • Proper etiquettes of closing ( bye, good night)
  • Directives

  • ‘’Directive is a sentence that requests some one to do something’’ (Ervin & Tripp,1833) .
    • Kinds of Directive-by Ervin & Tripp (1833)
    • To express needs. eg I need little peace.
    • To express abbreviation. eg  tea ,with lemon.
    • Form of indirect questions where we don’t want answer .eg what are you laughing at?
    • Form of hint, for example, I wonder if there is any butter in refrigerator .
  • However, most polite Directive needs more words. eg, ‘’Could you possibly by any chance lend me your pen for a moment .’’ is more polite than ‘give me the pen’  ( Browne & levicson,1987).
  • Indirect speech acts that is the question whose syntax doesn’t t match their intended purpose(Green,1989). It is for providing options.


Galloti, K. M. (2004). Cognitive psychology in and out of the laboratory. USA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Matlin, M. (1994). Cognition. Bangalore: Harcourt Brace Pub.

Anderson, J. R. (2015). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York: Worth Publishers

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