Victoria Fromkin

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Victoria Fromkin
Victoria Alexandra Landish

(1923-05-16)May 16, 1923
DiedFebruary 19, 2000(2000-02-19) (aged 76)
Scientific career
Institutions UCLA

Victoria Alexandra Fromkin (née  Victoria Landish; May 16, 1923 – January 19, 2000) was an American linguist who taught at UCLA. She studied slips of the tongue, mishearing, and other speech errors and applied this to phonology, the study of how the sounds of a language are organized in the mind. [1]



Fromkin was born in Passaic, New Jersey as Victoria Alexandra Landish on May 16, 1923. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1944. She married Jack Fromkin, a childhood friend from Passaic, in 1948, and they settled in Los Angeles, California. She decided to head back to school to study linguistics in her late 30s. [2] She enrolled at UCLA, received her master's in 1963 and her Ph.D in 1965. Her thesis was entitled, "Some phonetic specifications of linguistic units: an electromyographic investigation". [3] That same year, Fromkin joined the faculty of the linguistics department at UCLA. [4]

Her line of research mainly dealt with speech errors and slips of the tongue. She collected more than 12,000 examples of slips of the tongue, which were analyzed in a number of scholarly publications, notably her 1971 Language [5] article and an edited volume, Speech Errors as Linguistic Evidence. [6]

From 1971 to 1975, Fromkin was part of a team of linguistic researchers studying the speech of the "feral child" known as Genie. Genie had spent the first 13 years of her life in severe isolation, and Fromkin and her associates hoped that her case would illuminate the process of language acquisition after the critical period. [7] [8] However, the study ended after rancorous disputes over Genie's care, and the loss of funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. [9] Fromkin published several papers about Genie's linguistic development. [10]

In 1974, Fromkin was commissioned by the producers of the children's television series Land of the Lost to create a constructed language for a species of primitive cavemen/primates called the Pakuni. Fromkin developed a 300-word vocabulary and syntax for the series, and translated scripts into her created Pakuni language for the series' first two seasons. [11] [12]

For the action-sci-fi movie Blade (film), Fromkin created another constructed language for the vampires in the film. [13]

She became the first woman in the University of California system to be Vice Chancellor of Graduate Programs. She held this position from 1980 to 1989. [14] She was elected President of the Linguistic Society of America in 1985. [15] Fromkin was also chairwoman of the board of governors of the Academy of Aphasia. [16] She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. [17]

Fromkin died at the age of 76 on January 19, 2000 from colon cancer. [18] The Linguistic Society of America established the "Victoria A. Fromkin Prize for Distinguished Service" [19] award in her honor in 2001. This award recognizes individuals who have performed extraordinary service to the discipline and to the Society throughout their career.


Fromkin contributed to the area of linguistics known as speech error s. She created "Fromkin's Speech Error Database", for which data collection is ongoing. [20]

Fromkin recorded nine different types of speech errors. The following are examples of each:

Fromkin theorized that slips of the tongue can occur at many levels including syntactic, phrasal, lexical or semantic, morphological, phonological. She also believed that slips of the tongue could occur as many different process procedures. The different forms were:

Fromkin's research helps support the argument that language processing is not modular. The argument for modularity claims that language is localized, domain-specific, mandatory, fast, and encapsulated. Her research on slips of the tongue has demonstrated that when people make slips of the tongue it usually happens on the same level, indicating that each level has a distinct place in the persons brain. Phonemes switch with phonemes, stems with stems, and morphemes switch with other morphemes.


Related Research Articles

A lexicon, word-hoard, wordbook, or word-stock is the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge. In linguistics, a lexicon is a language's inventory of lexemes. The word "lexicon" derives from the Greek λεξικόν (lexicon), neuter of λεξικός (lexikos) meaning "of or for words."

A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance. An example is the statement by baseball player Yogi Berra, "Texas has a lot of electrical votes", rather than "electoral votes". Malapropisms often occur as errors in natural speech and are sometimes the subject of media attention, especially when made by politicians or other prominent individuals. Philosopher Donald Davidson has said that malapropisms show the complex process through which the brain translates thoughts into language.

Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the interrelation between linguistic factors and psychological aspects.

A speech disfluency, also spelled speech dysfluency, is any of various breaks, irregularities, or non-lexical vocables which occur within the flow of otherwise fluent speech. These include "false starts", i.e. words and sentences that are cut off mid-utterance; phrases that are restarted or repeated and repeated syllables; "fillers", i.e. grunts or non-lexical utterances such as "huh", "uh", "erm", "um", "well", "so", "like", and "hmm"; and "repaired" utterances, i.e. instances of speakers correcting their own slips of the tongue or mispronunciations. "Huh" is claimed to be a universal syllable.

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Speech human vocal communication using spoken language

Speech is human vocal communication using language. Each language uses phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words, and using those words in their semantic character as words in the lexicon of a language according to the syntactic constraints that govern lexical words' function in a sentence. In speaking, speakers perform many different intentional speech acts, e.g., informing, declaring, asking, persuading, directing, and can use enunciation, intonation, degrees of loudness, tempo, and other non-representational or paralinguistic aspects of vocalization to convey meaning. In their speech speakers also unintentionally communicate many aspects of their social position such as sex, age, place of origin, physical states, psychic states, physico-psychic states, education or experience, and the like.

A speech error, commonly referred to as a slip of the tongue or misspeaking, is a deviation from the apparently intended form of an utterance. They can be subdivided into spontaneously and inadvertently produced speech errors and intentionally produced word-plays or puns. Another distinction can be drawn between production and comprehension errors. Errors in speech production and perception are also called performance errors. Some examples of speech error include sound exchange or sound anticipation errors. In sound exchange errors the order of two individual morphemes is reversed, while in sound anticipation errors a sound from a later syllable replaces one from an earlier syllable. Slips of the tongue are a normal and common occurrence. One study shows that most people can make up to as much as 22 slips of the tongue per day.

In psycholinguistics, language production is the production of spoken or written language. It describes all of the stages between having a concept, and translating that concept into linguistic form. In computational linguistics/natural language processing and artificial intelligence, the term natural language generation (NLG) is more common, and those models may or may not be psychologically motivated.

The term linguistic performance was used by Noam Chomsky in 1960 to describe "the actual use of language in concrete situations". It is used to describe both the production, sometimes called parole, as well as the comprehension of language. Performance is defined in opposition to "competence"; the latter describes the mental knowledge that a speaker or listener has of language.

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When the circumstances of Genie, the primary victim in one of the most severe cases of abuse, neglect and social isolation on record in medical literature, first became known in early November 1970, authorities arranged for her admission to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where doctors determined that at the age of 13 years and 7 months she had not acquired a first language. Hospital staff then began teaching Genie to speak General American English, and she gradually began to learn and use language. Their efforts soon caught the attention of linguists, who saw her as an important way to gain further insight into acquisition of language skills and linguistic development. Starting in late May 1971, UCLA professor Victoria Fromkin headed a team of linguists who began a detailed case study on Genie's progress with learning language. One of Fromkin's graduate students, Susan Curtiss, became especially involved in testing and recording Genie's linguistic development. Linguists' observations of Genie began that month, and in October of that year they began actively testing what principles of language she had acquired and was acquiring. Their studies enabled them to publish several academic works examining theories and hypotheses regarding the proposed critical period during which humans learn to understand and use language.

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  1. "Google Scholar". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  2. "Biographical memoirs, Victoria Fromkin" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences.
  3. A., Fromkin, Victoria (1965-10-01). "WPP, No. 3: Some Phonetic Specifications of Linguistic Units: in Electromyographic Investigation - eScholarship".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. "Victoria Fromkin's Homepage". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  5. Fromkin, Victoria (1971). "The Non-anomalous nature of anomalous utterances". Language. 47: 27–52. doi:10.2307/412187.
  6. Speech Errors as Linguistic Evidence. Mouton de Gruyter. 1984. ISBN   978-3-11-088842-3.
  7. "The Linguistic Development of Genie" (PDF).
  8. "NOVA | Transcripts | Secret of the Wild Child | PBS". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  9. Rymer, Russ (1993). Genie: A Scientific Tragedy . New York: HarperPerennial. pp.  23, 46, 56, et al. ISBN   0-06-016910-9.
  10. Hyman, Larry M.; Li, Charles, eds. (1988). "Publications of V. A. Fromkin". Language, Speech and Mind: studies in honour of Victoria A. Fromkin. London: Taylor and Francis. ISBN   0-415-00311-3 . Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  11. Erickson, Hal (1998). Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. pp. 114–115, 126–127. ISBN   0-7864-0518-X . Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  12. Susman, Gary. "Land of the Lost's Lost Language". io9. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  13. Blade (1998) , retrieved 2019-02-01
  14. "Victoria Fromkin's Homepage". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  15. "Presidents | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  16. Strazny, Philipp (2005). Encyclopedia of Linguistics. FItzroy Dearborn. p. 362. ISBN   1-57958-391-1.
  17., National Academy of Sciences -. "Victoria Fromkin". Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  18. "Victoria Fromkin's Homepage". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  19. "LSA Honors and Awards | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  20. "Fromkins Speech Error Database — Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics". Retrieved 2019-09-23.

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