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VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 53

									    Intro to
psycholinguistics
    PHILIP HOFMEISTER
          3.31.11
         why psycholinguistics?



- language is a fundamental part of our daily lives
  - social interaction
  - relationship to complex thought & analysis
- computationally complicated
         why psycholinguistics?

- children acquire language without formal
  instruction, while adults struggle to acquire
  second languages
  - are we born with linguistic knowledge?
    - do infants already know what nouns, verbs,
       etc. are?
  - if not, how do we acquire language?
       why psycholinguistics


- Is language special?
  - unlike other cognitive processes?
  - implications for evolution of humans
- how do we process language in
  comprehension and production?
  - fast & efficient processes
                background


- Many of the psycholinguistic questions we will
  consider might be hard to situate
  - often, there is an underlying theoretical debate
  - perhaps the most important debate revolves
    around the following:
    - language-specific modules with extensive
       rules vs. language processing is an adaptation
       of general cognitive processes
                modularity

- module
  - self-contained cognitive structure
  - modular processes are insulated or
    independent of other modules
    - possible modules: phonetics/phonology,
       syntax, semantics
    - language itself as a larger module
      cat

visual processing


     sounds


     syntax


    meaning
                 modularity


- non-modular
   - information cascades downward
     - process doesn’t have to be complete for
         it information to proceed to next level
    - information feedback
      cat

visual processing


     sounds


     syntax


    meaning
                background


- language processing is often thought of as
  having a set of levels or stages
- psycholinguistics try to figure out how these
  levels relate to one another, what happens
  inside the ``boxes”, and the organization of the
  levels
                      chomsky

- one of the reasons the
   modularity/innateness question
   is of such importance is due to
   the theories of Chomsky
- revolutionized the field by
   proposing that language is
  - biologically pre-programmed
  - independent of other
     cognitive structures
  - rule-based
                           chomsky


- Chomsky’s ideas were attractive b/c
  - they accompanied formal rules
     for processing structure
  - they offered a template for how
     children acquire language
  - potentially explain why no other
     species has language like ours
                           chomsky

- Competence vs. performance
  - competence = what we know
     about language
  - performance = how we use
     language


- You may know how to play a
   Chopin sonata, but that doesn’t
   mean you do it perfectly every
   time
     competence vs. performance


- Same goes for language
  - speech is riddled with hesitations,
     disfluencies, pauses, and speech errors
- Chomsky suggests that such errors are not
  reflective of the underlying grammar (=
  knowledge of linguistics rules)
     competence vs. performance




- The boy cried.
     competence vs. performance




- The boy that the girl loved cried.
     competence vs. performance




- The boy the girl loved cried.
     competence vs. performance




- *The boy the girl the villain tricked loved cried.
     competence vs. performance




- The boy the girl the villain had tricked cried.
     competence vs. performance


- Again, the idea of this distinction is attractive
   because it gives a fixed object to study
  - pros: rules become easier to state; fixed
     objects of study; acquisition explainable
  - cons: language change harder to situate;
     language evolution somewhat mysterious
   competence vs. performance

- Alternative: what look like rules are just regularities
  - regularities can arise from statistical inferencing and
      feedback
  - pros: speech errors tell us about nature of language
      processing; provides a better basis for theorizing about
      language evolution; can explain typological and usage
      patterns associated with frequency
  - cons: finding generalizations requires lots of data; not
      clear how much boils down to statistics
     building blocks of language



- Speech sounds (phonetics/phonology)
- Word composition (morphology)
- Putting words together (syntax)
            speech sounds



- the smallest unit of language = speech sounds
  - phonemes = abstract mental
    representations of sounds
  - phones = sounds actually produced
producing speech
                  phonetics




- variation in sounds are produced by altering the
  shape of the vocal tract, altering the flow of air,
  or vibrating the vocal cords
    features of speech sounds

-   voiced or voiceless: are the vocal cords
    vibrating?
-   place of articulation: where is the
    constriction in the vocal tract?
-   manner of articulation: what’s the
    constriction like? Is it a complete
    constriction, nearly complete, complete but
    then released?
                 phonetics

- voicing
  - sounds are produced with or without the
    vocal cords vibrating
    - /p/ = voiceless
    - /b/ = voiced
  - vowels are almost always voiced
  - whispering = vocal cords don’t vibrate
                 phonetics



- place of articulation
  - where is a constriction in the airway made?
    - vowels = essentially no constriction
                               phonetics

- place of articulation
    -   bilabials = /p/, /b/
    -   labiodentals = /f/, /v/
    -   interdentals = /θ/ (thing), /ð/ (the)
    -   alveolar (tongue near alveolar ridge) = /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/
    -   palatal (tongue near hard palate) = /ʃ/ (wish), /dʒ/ (judge)
    -   velar (tongue near soft palate) = /k/, /g/
    -   glottal (closure of glottis) = /h/
       manner of articulation


(oral) stops: complete closure
  /p/ - “pit”
  /b/ - “bit”
  /t/ - “tank”
  /d/ - “dank”
  /k/ - “kong”
  /g/ - “gong”
  /ʔ/ - “uh-oh”
        manner of articulation

fricatives: incomplete closure
  /f/ - fit
  /v/ - vit
  /θ/ - thought
  /ð/ - this
  /s/ - soon
  /z/ - zone
  /h/ - happy
        manner of articulation


affricates: complete closure followed by frication
  /tʃ/ - pitch
  /dʒ/ - judge
nasals: lowering of the velum (all nasals are stops)
  /m/ - mark
  /n/ - noon
  /ŋ/ - king
        manner of articulation

liquids: some obstruction of vocal tract
  /l/ - lake
  /ɹ/ - reef
glides: even less obstruction (very vowel-like)
  /w/ - walk
  /w̥/ - whip (only some speakers)
  /j/ - yawn
flap: fast closure
  /ɾ/ - capital, water
             phoneme features

/b/ - voiced bilabial stop
/θ/ - voiceless interdental fricative
/n/ - voiced alveolar nasal
/ʃ/ - voiceless palatal fricative
/tʃ/ - voiceless palatal affricate
/w/ - voiced bilabial glide
/ɹ/ - voiced alveolar liquid
/ŋ/ - voiced velar nasal
              building words


- words can be broken down into their
  component parts
  - e.g. transactions has 3 parts
    - transact = root
    - -tions = derivational affix
    - -s = inflectional affix
              building words

- inflectional affixes don’t change the lexical
   category
- derivational affixes change lexical category
- inflectional processes can apply to any
   member of a category (e.g. plural -s ending)
- derivational affixes apply selectively (e.g. -
   tion & -ment, *enteraintion, *transactment)
                     syntax

- key terminology
  - nouns: book, science, water
  - verbs: run, saw, sleep
  - adjectives: blue, silent, awful
  - adverbs: quickly, very, silently
  - determiners: the, a, these, those
  - prepositions: with, by, for, against
  - conjunctions: and, because
                    syntax

- part of speech is determined by distributional &
  functional considerations more than meaning
    - ____ opened the door.
      - Jim
      - The white knight
      - The white knight with a limp
      - Nobody
                syntactic heads

- when words combine with other words, they form
  phrases
  - the type of phrase is determined by its head (= the
      syntactic `leader’)
  -   nouns form noun phrases (NPs)
  -   verbs form verb phrases (VPs)
  -   prepositional phrases (PPs)
  -   etc.
                  syntax

- Other key terms
  - content words
    - carry semantic content
    - new content words are invented continuously
  - function words
    - perform the grammatical work of a language
      - The boy decided to go with her.
    - few in number and cannot be added to
           parts of a sentence




- Every sentence has a subject and a predicate
  - The dragon slept

     SUBJECT    PREDICATE
            parts of a sentence




- Syntactic objects appear in the predicate
  - The dragon destroyed the village.

     SUBJECT    PREDICATE
           phrase structure rules

- Chomsky made several important assertions about
  how words and phrases combine
  1. the possible utterances of a language can be
     defined by a finite set of phrase structure rules or
     rewrite rules
  2. a special set of rewrite rules transform structures
     to account for relationships
    -   Bill loves Sarah.
    -   Sarah is loved by Bill
          phrase structure rules


- phrase structure rules are basically rewrite rules
- take the symbol on the left of the arrow and
  replace it with the symbols on the right
  - S ➝ NP VP
    - read as “a sentence (S) consists of an NP
       followed by a VP”
          phrase structure rules



- English is characterized by a finite set of such
  rules (DET = determiner, N = noun)
  - e.g. NP ➝ DET N
  - VP ➝ V (NP)
        phrase structure rules


-   N ➝ “orangutan”
-   V ➝ “smelled”
-   DET ➝ “the”
-   DET ➝ “my”
-   N ➝ “banana”
                 phrase structure rules

The orangutan                    APPLY RULE
    Det ➝ the / N ➝ organgutan      Det ➝ the / N ➝ orangutan


The orangutan smelled            APPLY RULE:
    S ➝ NP VP                       NP ➝ Det N
    S ➝ Det N VP                    Det ➝ the / N ➝ orangutan
    S ➝ the orangutan VP            VP ➝ V
    S ➝ the orangutan V             V ➝ smelled
    S ➝ the orangutan smelled
           phrase structure rules


- A grammar licenses the possible utterances and
    rules out the impossible ones
    - toy grammar
     - The orangutan smelled the banana.
     - The banana smelled the orangutan.
     - *The orangutan the banana smelled.
-   Syntax (somewhat) independent of meaning
          phrase structure rules



- Obviously, for a natural language, we need
  many such rules to describe the possible and
  non-possible structures
  - still a finite number
       a little more on Chomsky



- Chomsky proposed that these rules were
  insufficient to describe language
  - Spiders frighten Joan.
  - What frightens Joan?
           writing prompt #1


- Many believe that only humans have true
  language, in contrast to the systems of
  communication that other animals have. Write
  a brief exposition supporting or opposed to this
  idea. Use specific examples to support your
  position.

								
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