Episode 72 (The Word: an Illusive Concept)

Victor Boucher
Victor Boucher

Paul begins 2024 with a discussion about the fundamental nature of the core topic of this podcast: the word. Specifically, he discusses the concept of the word itself, with Victor Boucher, professor of linguistics at the University of Montreal.

Piggybacking on last last month’s episode, which discussed spaces between words,  Victor and Paul focus on the definition of a word and how words are viewed, written, and spoken in various languages.

Victor is a senior professor of speech science at the Université de Montréal. The focus of his research has been the sensorimotor systems that underlie speech processing, with applications extending to the processing of voices, chunking, speech breathing, and verbal memory. This work has led him to examine the writing bias in the study of spoken language and its processing in terms of units that reflect constraints on sensorimotor systems rather than conceptual linguistic units that link to writing such as phonemes, words, and sentences.

A complete list of his scholarly works is to be found at Google Scholar link.

To learn more about Inuktitut, watch the following video:

Also see Wikipedia for a more in-depth discussion of Inuktitut.

For the study on the memory benefits of repeating text while talking to someone, Professor Boucher discusses the findings on pages 214-216 of the 2021 article The Study of Speech Processes, Addressing the Writing Bias in Language Science. Cambridge University Press, UK.

Further References

Terrace, H. S. (2001). Chunking and serially organized behavior in pigeons, monkeys, and humans. In R. G. Cook (Ed.), Avian visual cognition. Retrieved from https://pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/avc/terrace/default.htm.

Boucher, V. J., Gilbert, A. C., & Jemel, B. (2019). The role of low-frequency neural oscillations in speech processing: Revisiting delta entrainment. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 31, 1205-1215. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01410.

Lowe, R. (1981). Analyse Linguistique et Ethnocentrisme. Essai sur la Structure du Mot en Inuktitut. Ottawa, ON: Musée National de l’Homme.


(Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G Major BMV 1007 Prelude (by Ivan Dolgunov) is courtesy of Jamendo Licensing.)