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Comprehension by forrests

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									Comprehension: Written and Spoken Language

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Conceptual and Rule Knowledge
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The first three levels of language analysis: the phonological, syntactic, and lexical and semantic levels. Conceptual Knowledge: The fourth level of analysis of language in Miller’s scheme, roughly equivalent to semantic memory. Beliefs: The fifth level of analysis of language, according to Miller, in which the listener’s attitudes and beliefs about the speaker influence what is comprehended and remembered. Pragmatics: The aspects of language that are “above and beyond” the words, so-called extralinguistic factors.

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Propositional Theory
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Proposition – representation of meaning that can be stored and retrieved from memory
A combination of concepts and relationships that express the meaning of a sentence  Propositions are made up of all the basic ideas in a sentence and their relationship  Simpler concept – a proposition is the briefest unit of language that can be judged true or false
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Example
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I am going downtown with my sister at 4:00 o’clock. Made up of 3 basic concepts
I’m going downtown  I’m going with my sister  We are going at 4:00 o’clock
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Advantages of Propositional Theory
1. propositions provide the meaning of a sentence, and the meaning remains even if surface structure changes  2. propositions help us to understand the relationship between sentences
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A proposition can represent the relationship of concepts in a sentence and between sentences

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Evidence for propositional theory
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1st prediction of the theory: Sentences with more underlying propositions will be more difficult to understand and remember – overloading working memory Working memory holds propositions (not words) in memory so we can understand what we have read
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Kintsch (1974)
Subjects given groups of 5 sentences  Sentences differed on 2 dimensions
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Number of content words 2 - 4  Number of propositions 1 - 3
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Examples:
“The crowded passengers squirmed uncomfortably  “The horse stumbled and broke a leg
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Later asked to recall them
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Kintsch (1974)
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Results: memory for propositions decreased as number of propositions increased. Number of words had no effect Conclusion: Prediction upheld

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Evidence for propositional theory
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2nd prediction - If we store propositions in memory, then concepts within the same proposition should be stored together

Example: ”the horse stumbled and broke a leg”  Hearing the word horse should facilitate the memory of stumbled more than leg
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Evidence for propositional theory
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Van Dijk and Kintsch (1983) Subjects given sentences with 2 propositions Given a word in the sentence and asked if a target word was in the same sentence. Reaction time measured under 3 conditions:
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1. Word not in the same sentence 2. Word in the sentence; not in the same proposition 3. Both words in the same proposition

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Results reaction time faster in condition 3, then condition 2
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Gernsbacher’s Structure building Framework
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Language comprehension is a process of building propositions – mental structures

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3 Basic components:
Laying a foundation  mapping information onto the structure  shifting to new structures
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Textbook example
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“Dave was studying hard for his statistics midterm.” “Because the professor had a reputation for giving difficult exams, the students knew they’d have to be well prepared.”

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Predictions of Gernsbacher’s theory
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The advantage of 1st mention: the foundation is formed 1st and generally involves the 1st idea or character mentioned. Therefore, it should be the most easily recalled. The advantage of clause recency: immediately after hearing the sentence the last or most recent clause is more easily remembered

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Support for theory
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Gernsbacher and Hargreaves (1988)  Subjects given a sentence with 2 propositions
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“Tina gathered kindling as Lisa set up the tent” Given a name and asked if it was in the sentence. Reaction time measured

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Gernsbacher and Hargreaves (1988) - Results
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If the name was presented immediately after the sentence, reaction time to Lisa was fastest. With a delay of more than 150msec, reaction time for Tina was fastest Conclusion: ideas, characters, etc. in the focus – first mentioned are most important to structure and memory
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Reference, Inference, and Memory

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Reference
References allude to a concept by using another word – such as pronouns  4 types of references
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Direct – there is a direct connection between the word and what it refers to  Indirect – no direct connection but the connection can be made by association  Indirect by characterization  Other
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Implication and Inference
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Implication: There is an intended reference in a sentence or utterance, but it is not mentioned explicitly.

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Inference: The process by which the listener or reader draws connections between concepts, determines the referents of words and ideas, and derives conclusions from a message.
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Bridging
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Bridging : the mental processes of reference, implication, and inference during language comprehension. Authorized implication: Intended or correct. Unauthorized implication or inference: Not intended, especially said of inferences drawn during a conversation.
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Reading
Reading

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Gaze Duration Procedures
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Gaze Duration: How long the eyes fixate on a specific word during reading, the principal measure of online comprehension during reading.

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Some reading basics:
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Saccades: quick eye movements, in reading 7 to 9 letter moves Fixation: the pause during which the eye is almost stationary and is taking in visual information. Average fixation in reading English is 200 to 250msec

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The pattern of fixations of a good (left panel) and poor (right panel) reader, showing where the fixations occurred in the sentences and the duration of the fixations.

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Gaze Duration Procedures
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Immediacy Assumption: Readers try to interpret each content word of a text as that word is encountered in the passage.

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Eye-Mind Assumption: The eye remains fixated on a word as long as that word is being actively processed; the eyes fixate on a word and reveal something about the mental time spent on that word.
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Eye fixations of a college student reading a scientific passage.

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Just (1976)
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Examined regressive eye movements, that is, movements back to a portion of text that had been read earlier. “The tenant complained to the landlord about the leaky roof. The next day, he went to the attic to get his luggage” “The tenant complained to the landlord about the leaky roof. The next day he went to the attic to repair the damage
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The Structure of Conversations
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Conversations are structured by cognitive and social variables and rules governing the what and how of our contributions. To begin with, we take turns. The rules for taking turns:
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First, the current speaker is in charge of selecting the next speaker; Second, if the first rule isn’t used, then any participant can become the current speaker; Third, if no one else takes the turn, the current speaker may continue to speak or the conversation can end.
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The Structure of Conversations
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Social Roles and Settings: The social roles of conversational partners, along with conversational setting, exert a strong influence on who participates and the contributions made by the participants

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Conversational Rules
Rules that govern our conversational interactions with others.  Relevance  Quantity  Quality  Manner and tone
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2 Additional Conversational Rules
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Attending to your conversational partners
Direct theory  Second order theory
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If you violate any of the conversational rules, you should explain why
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Sometimes violations are intentional to avoid saying something you don’t want to say
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Cooperative Principle
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The idea that each participant in a conversation implicitly assumes that all speakers are following the rules and that each contribution to the conversation is a sincere, appropriate contribution.

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Empirical Effects in Conversation
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Indirect Requests: we ask someone to do something by an indirect and presumably more polite statement.

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Indirect replies – usually to save face or you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but don’t want to lie

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Egocentric Speech
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Do adults plan an utterance so that we provide the a person with the optimal information they need to clearly understand what we are saying? No, adults disregard the principle of optimal design and speak as egocentrically as children. Their initial utterances are egocentric, taking into account only their own perspectives. We assume that they have the same perspective as we do.

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