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CogPsych ~11

Chapter 11: Language

What is language? A system of communication using sounds or symbols that enables us to express our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and experiences
What are the three criterion for language? 1. Symbolic - using symbols to represent ideas 2. Generative - Capable of producing different messages by combining symbols in different ways 3. Structured - Organized by Grammatical rules
Why is language universal? 1. Deaf children will automatically generate a sign language themselves 2. All humans develop a language and learn to follow its complex rules 3. Language can be found across all cultures, 4. develops similarly 5. "unique but the same" - nouns, verbs, etc
What did Skinner (1957) propose in his book Verbal Behaviour? Language is learned through reinforcement. Children learn language by being rewarded for using correct language and punished for using incorrect language.
What did Chomsky (1957) propose in his book Syntactic Structures? Human language is coded in the genes. Humans are programmed to acquire and use language.
What was Chomsky's counter to Skinner's proposal that language was learned through reinforcement? Children often produce sentences that they have never heard and that have never been reinforced.
What is the goals of psycholinguistics? Discovering the psychological processes by which humans acquire and process language.
What are the four major concerns of psycholinguistics? Comprehension, speech production, representation, and acquisition.
What are the components of language? Phonology, lexicon, morphology, syntax and semantics.
What is phonology? Rules that define the sound pattern of a language.
What is a lexicon? A person's knowledge of what words mean, how they sound, and how they are used in relation to other words i.e. a person's stored entries for words including irregulars
What is morphology? Rules for forming complex words, including regular words. This holds true only for alphabetical scripts.
What is syntax? Rules for forming phrases and language.
What is semantics? Meanings expressed through language.
What are the main factors in how language progresses to communication? 1. Context: The context within which letters, words and sentences appear help us perceive them. 2. Knowledge: Our ability to understand both written and verbal communication depends also on the knowledge we bring to the situation
What are the components of words? Phonemes and morphemes.
What are phonemes? The shortest segment of speech that, if changed, changes the meaning of a word.
What are morphemes? The smallest units of language that have a definable meaning or a grammatical function. (e.g. truck - 1 morpheme, trucks - 2 morphemes)
What is an exchange error? An error in which two linguistic units are substituted for each other during sentence production
How do exchange errors show the hierarchical organization of language? Speech errors occur within but not across levels of the hierarchy
What is syntax, according to Chomsky? An innate set of limited rules for organizing language (universal grammar).
What is Broca's aphasia? Slow, labored, ungrammatical speech caused by damage to Broca's area. It is a language disorder attributed to damage in frontal lobe of brain. Patients display inability to express grammatical relationships, and speech usually limited to single words.
What is Wernicke's aphasia? It is a language disorder attributed to damage in temporal lobe of the brain. Patients usually grammatical and fluent, but tend to be incoherent.
How do infants develop language? 1. Infants born with the ability to discriminate among phonemes in many different languages 2. As they develop, they learn prototypical speech sounds in their own language
Why is phonetics essential when learning a language? As we learn a language, we learn that certain sounds are more likely to follow one another within a word, and some sounds are more likely to be seperated by the space between two words, which is important for word segmentation.
What effect shows that perception of phonemes is affected by sound? The phonemic restoration effect.
What is the phonemic restoration effect? The filling in of missing phoneme based on context produced by sentence and portion of word presented
What is the word superiority effect? Letters are better perceived in the context of words vs non-words.
Describe Reicher's study on the word superiority effect. Subjects flashed a word/letter/nonword stimulus briefly followed by a mask pattern to stop perception. Two letters are presented with the mask. Subject is to pick the flashed letter that appeared in the original stimulus.
What did Reicher find in his study on the word superiority effect? They chose the letter presented in the original stimulus more quickly and accurately when the letter had been part of a word than when the letter had been presented alone or as part of a non-word. It shows that contexts how we see letters in printed words
What is a corpus? A large representative sample of utterances or written text from a particular language. It indicates word frequency as well as as frequency of different meanings and grammatical constructions i.e. how people normally use their language.
What is the word frequency effect? We respond more rapidly to high-frequency (i.e. words that appear very often in a language) words like home than to low-frequency words like hike.
Describe the lexical decision task which demonstrated the word frequency effect. Subjects read a list consisting of words and nonwords, and decide ASAP whether each entry in the list is a word - "yes" response.
How does the lexical decision task demonstrate the word frequency effect? Subjects would carry out the task more quickly for a list containing high-frequency words than for a list containing low-frequency words.
What are saccadic eye movements? The movement of people's eyes from one place to another when looking at a scene.
What are fixations? The places where the eye briefly stops to look at a particular place in a scene.
Why is eye movement measured in the study of reading? It is possible to determine which word they fixate on and for how long. It provides a way to track the mental processes that are occurring as the person is reading.
Describe a Rayner et al.'s (2003) study and results on reading measuring eye movement. Subjects' eye movements as they read sentences that contained a high- or low-frequency target words were tracked.
What did Rayner et al.'s (2003) study on reading measuring eye movement find? Readers looked at low-frequency words about 40 ms longer than high-frequency words, indicating that readers needed more time to access the meaning of the low-frequency words.
What is lexical ambiguity? Words having more than one meaning.
What is meaning dominance? Some meanings of words occur more frequently than others. Word meanigns that occur more frequently possess high dominance. Word meanings that occur less frequently possess low dominance.
What is biased dominance? Words that have two or more meanings with different dominances.
What is balanced dominance? Words with two or more meanings with the same dominance.
Consider the following sentence, in which the ambiguous word cast has balanced dominance: "The cast worked into the night." (control word: cook). How would processing time vary? In reading, both meanings of cast (members of a play/plaster cast) are activated, being equally likely. Thus, the person looks longer at cast than at "cook", which has only one meaning as a noun.
Consider the following sentence, in which the ambiguous word cast has biased dominance: "The tin was bright and shiny." (control word: gold). How would processing time vary? People would read the biased ambiguous word tin just as quickly as the control word, because only the dominant meaning of tin is activated, and the meaning of tin as a metal is accessed quickly.
What happens if context is added before a biased ambiguous word? e.g. "The miners went to the store and saw that they had beans in a tin". (control word: cup) The less frequent meaning is activated at increased strength because of prior context (strengthening activation for meaning), and the more frequent meaning of tin is also activated. Thus, two meanings are activated, so the person looks longer at tin.
What are the three factors that determine the process of accessing the meaning of a word? 1. Frequency - determines how long it takes to process its meaning. 2. Context - determines *which* meaning we access. 3. Meaning dominance - accessing the correct meaning of the word
What is parsing? The grouping of words into phrases. It is the central process for determining the meaning of a sentence.
How do psychologists examine the parsing process? Through ambiguity in sentences.
What are garden path sentences? Sentences which begin appearing to mean one thing but then end up meaning something else.
How do garden path sentences exhibit temporary ambiguity? The initial words of the sentence are ambiguous--can lead to more than one meaning--but the meaning is made clear by the end of the sentence.
What are the two approaches to parsing? Syntax-first approach and the interactionist approach.
What is the syntax-first approach to parsing? As people read a sentence, their grouping of words into phrases is governed by a number of rules that are based on syntax. If, along way, reader realize there is something wrong with their parsing, they take other information into account to reintepret.
What is the principle of late closure in the syntax-first approach to parsing? It states that when a person encounters a new word, the person's parsing mechanism assumes that this word is part of the current phrase, so each new word is added to the current phrase for as long as possible.
Describe the process of reinterpretation according to the syntax-first approach in a garden path sentence. When the word is added that creates the ambiguous meaning, we realise that late closure is wrong. So, we reconsider, taking the meaning of the sentence into account, and reparse the sentence so that, afterwards, the erroneous word on becomes a 2nd phrase
What is one criticism of the syntax-first approach to parsing? Factors in addition to syntax may be influencing parsing right from the beginning.
What is the interactionist approach to parsing? Information provided by both syntax and semantics is taken into account simultaneuously as we read or listen to a sentence. It argues that semantics (meaning) is more important than syntax (grammatical rules) in determining how sentences are parsed.
"The spy saw the man with the binoculars" vs "The bird saw the man with the binoculars". Describe how the interactionist approach to parsing would determine parsing in these two sentences. Although the structure of the the bird sentence is the same as that of the spy sentence, our knowledge of the properties of spies and of birds influences interpretation i.e. two groupings in spy vs one grouping in bird.
What did Tanenhaus et al. (1995) propose in line with the interactionist approach? Interpretation of sentence not only influenced by meaning of words, but also meaning of scene being observed i.e. the visual world paradigm.
What is the visual world paradigm, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995)? It involves determining how subjects process information as they are observing a visual scene. Participants eye-movements measured when looking at scene and told to carry out a task with verbal instructions (ambiguous and requiring interpretation)
Describe the visual world paradigm, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995). Subjects' eye movements were measured as they saw objects on a table, and told instructions "Place the apple on the towel in the box". Ambiguous, interpretations: "The relevant apple is on the towel" or "Move the apple onto the towel".
What does the interactionist approach predict in the visual world paradigm for the two apple paradigm, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995)?q When there are two apples in the scene and listeners hear "Put the apple," they'll expect the speaker to immediately include information to let them know which apple they are talking about and so will pick interpretation 1.
What were the results of the visual world paradigm in the two apple condition, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995)? Many subjects looked first at the apple on the napkin in response to "Put the apple" and then moved to the apple that is on the towel in response to "on the towel". This means that the subject is interpreting beginning as identifying which apple to move
What does the interactionist approach predict in the visual world paradigm for the one apple paradigm, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995)? Subjects will know which apple to move immediately upon hearing "Put the apple", so they'll be more likely to adopt interpretation 2.
What were the results of the visual world paradigm in the one apple condition, as used by Tanenhaus et al. (1995)? Upon hearing etc, subjects look at the apple then other towel, adopting 2nd interpretation. However, upon hearing "in the box", they make a correction and look back at the apple and then at the box, indicating new interpretation that apple shld be in box.
What is inferring in the context of a story? Determining what the text means by using our knowledge to go beyond the information provided by the text.
What is the property of coherence of a story? The representation of the text in the mind so that information in one part of the text is related to information in another part of the text.
What is an anaphoric inference? An inference that connects an object or person in one sentence to an object or person in another sentence
What is an instrument inference? An inference about tools or methods.
What is a causal inference? Inferences of events described in one clause or sentence caused by events in previous sentences
What is a situation model? A mental representation of what a text is about
What is the situation model approach to text comprehension? Proposes that when a text is read, the representation in one’s mind is not words, phrases or sentences, but situations in terms of people, objects and location. Perceptual and motor characteristics of the story are also simulated.
Describe Stanfield & Zwaan's (2001) study and results showing the situation model theory. Subjects presented the sentences "nail hammered into wall" or "etc floor" followed by a matching/nonmatching picture. Then indicate whether the picture shows object-both do. Subjects responded "yes" more quickly when picture orientation matched situation.
Describe Zwaan et al.'s (2002) study and results showing the situation model theory. Same as Stanfield & Zwaan (2001). Sentences presented: "Ranger saw eagle in sky" vs "etc in nest". Reaction times, again, faster when picture matched situation described in the sentence.
Describe Horton & Rapp's (2003) study on the situation model theory and the blocked television. Blocked condition, the story describes Melanie’s mother as being in front of the TV, unblocked, Melanie’s mother as being behind the TV. Reaction time to answer a question about something happening on the screen is slower for the blocked condition.
What do conversations require? 1. Shared knowledge - know not only what others are saying but what they know about topic being discussed. 2. Semantic and syntactic coordination.
What is the given-new contract? The speaker should construct sentences so that they include two kinds of information: 1) given information (already known) and 2) new information
Describe Haviland & Clark's (1974) study and results on the given-new contract. Subjects shows pairs of sentences and asked to press a button when they thought they understood the second sentence. It was found that it took longer for subjects to do so for unpaired sentences as hey had to make an inference about it.
What is syntactic priming? Hearing a statement with particular syntactic construction increases chances that following sentences will be produced with the same construction
Describe Brannigan et al.'s (2000) experiment on syntactic priming. Confederate began with priming statement. Subject responded by locating a matching card, before picking a top card from the response pile and describing it to the confederate. Confederate would look out for how subject phrases their description.
What did Brannigan et al. (2000) find in their experiment on syntactic priming? On 78% of trials, form of subject's description matched form of priming statement. Supports idea that speakers are sensitive to linguistic behaviour of other speakers and adjust their behaviours to match.
What is one reason for syntactic coordination in conversations? Reduces the computational load involved in creating a conversation because it is easier to copy the format of someone else than to create your own from scratch.