Language and Mind

By Prof. Rajesh Kumar   |   IIT Madras
Learners enrolled: 1171
Language learning can be put under three broad perspectives. Some believe language is pairing of lexicon and syntax i.e. of words and the set of rules that defines how we can combine those words most fundamental of these rules are innate i.e. they are already there in the human mind before it is exposed to society. This means there is perhaps an innate Language Faculty. Still others believe that General Cognitive Abilities that account for other kinds of learning can also account for language. There are many others who strongly believe that language is essentially socially embedded and that all learning takes place through social interactions. This course will briefly account for the most convincing position and will argue for it from generative perspective and biological foundations of language. Throughout the course we will try to be familiar with relationship between language and human mind; to understand language as a special purpose cognitive ability; and to understand underlying mental computation for natural language processing.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : Anyone interested in the topic. 
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Core
Duration : 8 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 2
Level : Undergraduate
Start Date : 24 Jan 2022
End Date : 18 Mar 2022
Enrollment Ends : 07 Feb 2022
Exam Date : 27 Mar 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: On Language 
 What is Language?
What is scientific about language?
How is language constitutive of being human?
Distinction between human and non-human language
Origin of language
What is the relationship between language and mind?
How do children acquire language?
Nature of learning language
Generative foundation of language acquisition
Biological foundation of Language
Language acquisition device
Universal grammar

Week 2: Language in Mind
Acquisition and/or learning
I-language and Innateness
Patterns – Universal Grammar
Human Brain
Language deficit/ loss

Week 3: Patterns in sounds and words
Places and manners of articulation
Features of sounds

Week 4: Words and sentences
Constraints of patterns in words
Cluster as constraints

Week 5: Grammar
Parts of sentences
Subjects/ Predicates
Lexical categories
Functional categories
Nature of verbs

Week 6: Advanced Grammar
Complement/ adjunct
Semantic relations

Week 7: Levels of representation and principles of grammar
Motivation for the movement
Complementizer phrase
Case assignment
Passive morphology and NP movement
D structure
Binding theory
Indices and antecedents

Week 8: Language and cognition
Compound verb 
Language and Cognition 
Goal of cognitive sciences
Computational linguistics- goals, breakthroughs and challenges
Language and mind

Books and references

  • Chomsky, N. (2006). Language and Mind. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Harris, C.L. (2003). ‘Language and cognition’. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. London: MacMillan.
  • Hauser, M.D., Chomsky, N., and Fitch, W.T. (2002). ‘Faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?’ Science, 298, 1569-1579.
  • Jackendoff, R. (1993). Patterns in human mind. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  • Jackendoff, R. (2014). ‘How did language begin?’ Retrieved from http://www.linguisticsociety.org/files/LanguageBegin.pdf
  • Pinker, S. and Jackendoff, R. (2004). ‘The faculty of language: What’s special about it?’ Cognition, 95, 201-236.
  • Pool, G. (2011). Syntactic theory (2 ed). London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Instructor bio

Prof. Rajesh Kumar

IIT Madras
Rajesh Kumar PhD (Illinois) 
Associate Professor
Office: HSB 345
I I T Madras
Chennai - 600036.
Phone : +91 (44) 2257 4537

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 27 March 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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