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.