Upcoming events

 
 
 

Jonathan Brennan · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 

Itamar Francez · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Virginia Valian · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Lauren Eby Clemens · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Kristine Onishi · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 

Stefan Keine · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Tal Linzen · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

This is a joint colloquium, co-sponsored by Linguistics and the CLiP Lab.

 
 

Daniel Harbour · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 

Erika Skoe · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Past events

This dissertation examines how children discover the subtle contrast in meaning between know and think. Unlike think, know is both veridical and factive, so uses of it entail and presuppose the truth of the proposition expressed in the complement clause. Thus, speakers should only be able to use (1) when they know that (3) is true and can be taken for granted, while uses of (2) can also occur in situations where (3) is taken ...

 

Graduating students should come to 1401 MMH (Ling office) and arrive by 10:30 to robe, get instructions, and line up. The ceremony will likely last 1 hour with a light reception to follow.

 

In recent years, there have been a number of efforts to unify various semantic and pragmatic phenomena, including, for example, scalar implicatures, free choice inferences, and plural meanings. A number of recent developmental studies have turned to acquisition data as a means of evaluating the plausibility of such theories. In this talk, I’ll present an overview of some recent findings from our studies, which have examined phenomena such as: free choice, plurals, homogeneity, clefts ...

 
 

The University of Maryland, College Park, will host host 27th meeting of Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Friday May 12 - Sunday May 14, 2017, with an additional Workshop on Meaning and Distribution for Thursday May 11. Here is the full program.

We are delighted to welcome seven invited speakers, four for the main session:


and three for the Workshop:


In addition there ...

 

Final presentations by members of the Georgian field methods class

  • 2:00 Steven Foley (by Skype), The Subject Gap Advantage in Georgian relative clause processing
  • 2:30 Paulina Lyskawa, Exclamatives in Georgian
  • 3:00 Nancy Clarke, Versionizers
  • 3:30 Sigwan Thivierge, Georgian dative subjects
  • 4:15 Michaela Socolof, Georgian correlatives
  • 4:45 David Erschler (by Skype), Gapping in embedded clauses in Georgian and Svan
  • 5:15 Annemarie van Dooren, Modality & negation
  • 5:45 Xavier Zientarski ...
 

It has been that long-distance scrambled element in Japanese is subject to so-called “radical reconstruction” all the way to its original position (Saito 1989, 1992). The same seems to be in Korean. I will argue that this condition can be relaxed when we get the convergence; either reconstructed only unto the intermediate position or stays in the surface position. I will demonstrate this argument based upon the data that exhibit NPI intervention effect (in which ...

 
 
 

How do children learn a verb's argument structure when their input contains clause types that obscure verb transitivity? A child might infer that throw is transitive by observing that it occurs in sentences with direct objects (e.g. Amy threw a frisbee), but this strategy is complicated by "non-basic" clauses where the argument acting as the verb's object doesn't occur after the verb (e.g. Which frisbee did Amy throw __?). In ...

 

In highlighting young children’s receptivity to, and appraisal of, potential informants, recent research on children’s early cultural learning has neglected their self-appraisals and their concomitant information seeking. Recent evidence shows that human toddlers spontaneously signal their own cognitive states; they use non-verbal gestures (e.g., a shoulder shrug and/or flipping of the palms upward and outward) together with explicit statements (“I don’t know”) to convey their ignorance. They also explicitly affirm ...

 

Note: this is a joint LING/CLIP colloquium

Knowledge mismatch is inherent to communicative interaction, since conversational partners naturally differ in their knowledge and beliefs. Effective conversational moves, such as asking a question or referring to an entity, crucially depend then on each participant acting appropriately with respect to which knowledge is privileged (unique to that participant) and which is shared among the participants. For example, much work in linguistics suggests that a definite referring ...

 

In this talk, I show that (i) there is no dedicated syntactic projection for focus and wh-items in Georgian, (ii) information structure is read off minimal syntactic structure, and (iii) information structure is determined by Georgian-specific requirements on the realization of prosodic prominence.

Georgian focus and wh-words appear in the immediately preverbal position:

(1) Gušin       dila-s      bebia        ra-s           
    yesterday   morning-dat grandma.nom  what-dat   
    alagebda?
    wash.prf.3sg
    "What did grandma clean yesterday morning?"
(2) Gušin ...
 

On the surface, Basque looks like an ergative language: Case morphology groups direct objects and (most) intransitive subjects together as unmarked absolutive, separate from transitive subjects, which have marked ergative case. However, its case system has so far defied satisfactory explanation, and the two most promising current theories of ergative cannot account for the distribution of this case in Basque subjects. In the dependent case approach (i.a. Marantz 1991, Baker 2015), ergative is restricted ...

 

Online long-distance dependency formation requires the following "component processes": identifying the dependent element (e.g., Wh-filler), identifying the controlling element (e.g., gap), holding the dependent element in working memory, linking the dependent element to the controlling element, and retrieving the filler from working memory. Many previous studies have shown that upon encountering the dependent element, the parser launches an active search for the controlling element, and the parser attempts to form and resolve the ...

 

Questions of domain-generality—the extent to which multiple cognitive functions are represented and processed in the same manner—are common topics of discussion in cognitive science, particularly within the realm of language. In the present dissertation, I examine the domain-specificity of two processes in speech perception: category learning and rate adaptation.

With regard to category learning, I probed the acquisition of categories of German fricatives by English and German native speakers, finding a bias in ...

 

Cognitive neuroscience has witnessed two decades of rapid growth, thanks in large part to the continued development of fMRI methods. In my talk, I will question what this work has told us about brain function, and will propose some new directions that I see as being crucial to the ultimate success of cognitive neuroscience. First, I will discuss the need for approaches that allow selective associations between mental operations and representations and brain activity. Related ...

 

Join the Maryland Language Science Center for a series of panel discussions bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds who work on issues related to language development and poverty. Coffee and lunch will be provided, with a happy hour to follow. For more information and registration, visit https://languagescience.umd.edu/workshop-language-and-poverty-home-school-and-society.

 

Recently, twin narratives have arisen in both the scholarly literature and in the popular press that depict infants as a. moral judges and b. inherently altruistic. Each of these narratives has a set of corollaries or associated claims: that moral knowledge is built in, thorough, and relatively impervious to experience, and that infants’ moral behavior is unlearned, virtuously motivated, prolific and indiscriminate. In my talk, I will examine these narratives and claims in the context ...

 

A doubly center-embedded (DCE) sentence in English with a missing verb phrase, e.g. 'The dog the rat the cat chased ran away,' is judged to be relatively acceptable despite being ungrammatical. In this talk, I discuss a novel related illusion for Mandarin Chinese DCE sentences missing a noun phrase, and how it differs from its English counterpart. To account for the illusory properties of DCE sentences in both languages, it is proposed that argument-predicate ...

 

Korean is a nominative-accusative language that permits case-stacking - the realization of multiple case-markers on a single noun phrase. Consider the examples in (1):

 
(1) Korean case-stacking
a. Cheli-hanthey-ka ton-i.    isse.
   C.-dat-nom       money-nom have
   ‘Cheli has money.’
b. Swunhi-ka Yenghi-hanthey-lul chayk-ul cwuesse.
   S.-nom    Y.-dat-acc         book-acc gave
   ‘Swunhi gave Yenghi the book.’
c. Sensayng-nim-tul-kkeyse-man-I kulen     il-ul
   teacher-HON-PL-h.nom-only-nom that.kind work-acc 
   hasipnita
   do
   ‘Only teachers do such work.’

In ...

 

What information is conveyed by epistemic conditionals like "If Sarah is in London, Mary is too"? The literature contains two answers. The first is that conditionals express ordinary propositions. The second is that conditionals convey information of a different kind, and require a departure from standard truth-conditional frameworks. I present two arguments against a truth-conditional analysis. Both arguments exploit probability. Crucially, though, they don't depend on endorsing a controversial link between probabilities of conditionals ...

 

The selection of information from our cluttered sensory environments is one of the most fundamental cognitive operations performed by the primate brain. In the visual domain, the selection process is thought to be mediated by a static spatial mechanism – a ‘spotlight’ that can be flexibly shifted around the visual scene. This spatial search mechanism has been associated with a large-scale network that consists of multiple nodes distributed across all major cortical lobes and includes also ...

 

ABSTRACT:

This paper offers a formal syntactic and semantic analysis of standards of comparison in Spanish (Jon ha comprado más libros { de los que ha leído Ane. / que cómics ha leído Ane.} ‘Jon has bought more books { than Ane has read. / than Ane has read comics. }’, among other examples), in addition to presenting a parametric analysis that accounts for the variation in standards of comparison cross-linguistically. Two independent parameters are argued to account for the ...

 

In three visual world eye-tracking experiments, we investigate whether people can act on sentences containing negation before they know the content of the expression being negated. We provide evidence that people indeed can. However, it seems to be that this is a function of the information in the visual scene. We offer some explanations of what kinds of information are necessary and will propose a fourth experiment aimed at testing this hypothesis.

 

AUTHOR: Dongwoo Park

TITLE: What is elided in English vbP ellipsis, and when?

ABSTRACT:

I argue a novel derivational approach to ellipsis. In support of this, I discuss an instance of ellipsis of vP which is headed by the copula selecting a predication phrase (PredP) and selected by T, exemplified in (1) (see Mikkelsen 2005). I will call this vbP ellipsis.

(1) John might be proud of his father, and [TP Bill1 [T’ might ...
 
 
 

Erika Arrigo and Sara McConnell are completing their second semester in the Project on Children's Language Learning, and are presenting their posters on the project that they have each been focused on. Open to all, drop-in from 1pm until 2:30pm, but posters can remain for the rest of the afternoon.

 

MINSIM

Meeting

Workshop on factivity with participants from UMD, JHU and UPenn to talk about research and develop collaborations.

 

I'll discuss updates from an ongoing preferential looking study on the acquisition of WH questions and relative clauses at 15 and 20 months, and introduce plans for a new listening time study.

 

I argue against the anti-agreement hypothesis for argument ellipsis (e.g. Saito 2007, Sener & Takahashi 2010, Sato 2015), with new evidence from Kaqchikel.

(1) Anti-Agreement Hypothesis for Argument Ellipsis: (e.g. Saito 2007, Sener & Takahashi 2010) Argument ellipsis is possible iff the argument is not Agreed with.

Argument ellipsis (AE) refers to null nominal elements with non-pronominal, i.e. sloppy / quantificational, interpretations available in some languages. Otaki et al. (2013) show that Kaqchikel lacks AE ...

 

This year’s Baggett Lectures will present an approach to unifying discrete symbolic and continuous neural computation: Gradient Symbolic Computation (GSC). In this third lecture in the Baggett Lecture series, Gradient Symbolic Computation process models of incremental (word-by-word) syntactic parsing will be discussed, as well as process models of graded probabilistic biases in language learning and the potential role of such biases in explaining statistical typological universals.

 

This year’s Baggett Lectures will present an approach to unifying discrete symbolic and continuous neural computation: Gradient Symbolic Computation (GSC). In this second of three lectures in the Baggett Lecture series, use of gradient symbol structures in theories of grammatical competence will be illustrated by partially-present constituents in base positions of syntactic wh-movement, partially-present [voice] features in final consonants in certain final-devoicing languages, and, most extensively, partially-present consonants in underlying forms of French words ...

 

Distinguished phonologist Paul Smolensky, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University, will be giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

Overview of the lectures

A fundamental task of cognitive science is reconciling (i) the discrete, categorical character of mental states and knowledge — e.g., symbolic expressions governed by symbolic rules of grammar or logic — with (ii) the continuous, gradient character of neural states and processes. This year’s Baggett ...

 

This year’s Baggett Lectures will present an approach to unifying discrete symbolic and continuous neural computation: Gradient Symbolic Computation (GSC). In this first of three lectures in the Baggett Lecture series, GSC’s novel neural architecture — capable of encoding and processing symbol structures — will be presented, and the new grammatical theories that emerge from this architecture will be described and illustrated: theories in which grammars are evaluators of well-formedness, and grammatical structures are those ...

 

Please join us on Friday, Nov. 11th, to hear presentations from the undergraduate students listed below about the research projects that they immersed themselves in this past summer.

These linguistics majors received funding for these projects from either a Baggett Summer Scholarship, a CASL Summer Scholarship, and/or a National Science Foundation grant to their mentors.

Erika Arrigo, who worked with Jeffrey Lidz & Laurel Perkins

Grace Hynes, who worked with Jeffrey Lidz, Valentine Hacquard, & Rachel ...

 

Children learn language from hearing it around them, but much of the language they hear isn’t perfectly clear. Some children hear degraded speech signals through a cochlear implant; others may hear speech from speakers with unfamiliar accents. And nearly all children hear a great deal of their language input in the presence of background noise, including competing speech.

Recent work suggests that children are affected by background noise much more than are adults, limiting ...

 

"Adjunct extraction: a view from Mayan" (Gesoel Mendes and Rodrigo Ranero)

The analysis of A’-extraction restrictions on the subject of transitive clauses (syntactic ergativity; Coon et.al. 2015, Polinsky 2016, Aissen to appear) has long been the subject of debate among Mayanists, yet several Mayan languages also exhibit a restriction on A’-extraction of adjuncts, a phenomenon that has received comparatively little attention in the literature. An exception is Henderson (2008), who shows that ...

 

Cooperation, where people pay costs to benefit others, is central to successful human societies. But why are people willing to incur the individual costs involved in cooperating? One set of explanations involves long-term self-interest: if I cooperate with you today, that may make you (or others who find out about my cooperation) more likely to cooperate with me in the future. But people also cooperate even such future consequences are not enough to make cooperation ...

 

Practice talks for BUCLD

 

In this talk we explore adjunct extraction in two Mayan languages, Kaqchikel and Tz'utujiil. It has been reported previously that extraction of low adjuncts in some Mayan languages triggers a special particle attached to the verb (e.g. Where did John buy-PRT the car ). The nature of such morpheme, however, as well as its relation with other properties of clause structure such as transitivity and the type of adjunct under extraction is much less ...

 

Acquiring vocabulary is an essential task of early childhood, but some kinds of words are more difficult to acquire than others. It is well established that learners can use the linguistic context in which unfamiliar verbs appear to posit at least a broad representation of their meanings--an ability known as syntactic bootstrapping (e.g., Gleitman, 1990). I will present data on why some contexts are more supportive than others, and how semantic and processing considerations ...

 

Although the prevalent view of emotion and decision making is derived from the notion that there are dual systems of emotion and reason, a modulatory relationship more accurately reflects the current research in affective neuroscience and neuroeconomics. Studies show two potential mechanisms for affect's modulation of the computation of subjective value and decisions: 1) Incidental affective states may carry over to the assessment of subjective value for an unrelated decision, and 2) the emotional ...

 

What do you know when you know a language? Traditional accounts of acquisition focus on the challenges of mapping words and rules in an infinite hypothesis space. But what if learning is the easy part? What if the real barrier to mastering a language is retrieving what you already know? That itself is not trivial. Natural speech unfolds at the breakneck pace of 2.5 words a second. In order to learn from this input ...

 

I introduce two new sets of data which appear to be problematic for the standard assumption that selection is restricted to syntactic elements in a sisterhood relation (a fact that follows as a theorem from certain versions of Merge). The first set comes from the well-known domain of Warner/Lasnik/Potsdam facts, aka "*I'm America, and so can you!". Lasnik famously argued that peculiarities of English verbal morphology were responsible for this pattern, and ...

 

Many psychologists, philosophers, and laypeople believe that empathy is necessary for moral judgment and moral action—the only problem with empathy is that we sometimes don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, infant cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, I’ll argue that this is mistaken. Empathy is a poor moral guide. It is biased, short-sighted, and innumerate—we should try to do without it. We ...

 

Annual event that brings together language science faculty and students from across the University of Maryland. Includes lunch, presentations, poster session, and evening party.

 

Title: Discovering the factivity of know.

Author: Rachel Dudley

Abstract: Think and know both express beliefs, but differ in “factivity”: (i) think can report false beliefs; (ii) know’s complement is presupposed to be true. How do children figure out that know is factive but think isn’t? We use corpus methods to examine input with the verbs and determine which distributional cues might signal factivity. We find that direct cues to factivity are sparse ...

 

My 1991 proposal (in Consciousness Explained) that human consciousness be seen as a ‘user illusion’ met with incredulity in many quarters, in part because many people were unwilling or unable to abandon the idea of the primacy of the "first-person perspective”: (“How could I be wrong about my own conscious states?”) In the meantime, accumulating evidence and advances in theory have prepared the ground for a revival of this initially counterintuitive view, and a number ...

 

In most accounts of semantics, prepositions fly under the radar. I will argue that they should instead be put front and center given their crucial status as linkers of meaning—whether for spatial and temporal relations, for predicate-driven roles, or in special constructions. To that end, we have sought to characterize semantic functions expressed by prepositions in English, and similar markers in other languages. One central challenge is coverage: in order to comprehensively annotate prepositions ...

 

The capacity for cognitive control, one of the defining characteristics of human cognition, is also remarkably limited. Typically, people cannot engage in more than a few – and sometimes only a single – control-demanding task at once. Limited capacity was a defining element in the earliest conceptualizations of cognitive control, it remains one of the most widely accepted axioms of cognitive psychology, and is even the basis for some laws (e.g., against the use of mobile ...

 

This dissertation uses children’s acquisition of adjunct control as a case study to investigate grammatical and performance accounts of language acquisition. In previous research, children have consistently exhibited non-adultlike behavior for sentences with adjunct control. To explain children’s behavior, several different grammatical accounts have been proposed, but evidence for these accounts has been inconclusive. In this dissertation, I take two approaches to account for children’s errors.

First, I spell out the predictions ...

 

Reception and light lunch following ceremony in the Marie Mount Hall Atrium.

 

Nominals that undergo (pseudo) noun incorporation ((P)NI) need not, and in many cases cannot, enter into case/agreement relationships (e.g. Baker 1988, 1996; Massam 2001). Baker contends that this complementarity arises, because NI has the same effect on nominals as case/agreement. Both processes render the nominal `visible’ (in the sense of Aoun 1980, Chomsky 1981) for thematic interpretation. Such an account can be straightforwardly extended to PNI if PNI involves covert head ...

 

First, Mina and Natalia will present their initial EEG results aimed at replicating the influential and controversial Ding/Poeppel effect of neural entrainment to syntactic constituent structure. If you like the basic finding they are interested in your ideas for follow-ups (both in kids and adults), and if you are skeptical of the basic finding they are interested in your ideas for how to test alternative explanations ; ) After that William, Chia-Hsuan and Phoebe will talk ...

 

Mayfest is a workshop that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to discuss fundamental issues in linguistics.

This year’s Mayfest concerns the uses of context in theories of linguistic understanding. It also doubles as PHLINC3, the third biennial conference of PHLING, our reading and research group in Philosophy and Linguistics. The program for 2016 has these speakers: Robyn Carston, Lyn Frazier, Andrew Kehler, Ernest Lepore, Shevaun Lewis, Stephen Neale, Craige ...

 

Mind-wandering has recently come to occupy a central position in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Most theories and research so far have examined it in terms task-unrelated or stimulus-independent mental contents that occur at particular moments of time. A defining feature of mind-wandering, however, are its dynamics: how thought moves over time. In this talk, I will introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its neural basis. I propose that mind-wandering is best understood as ...

 

In everyday conversation, a great deal of information is communicated without ever actually being said. For example, speakers may use irony to express information that is contrary to the literal meaning of an utterance (e.g., saying “What a fabulous chef Fred is” after he just burned a meal). By integrating such contextual information with the linguistic input, listeners are able to arrive at the appropriate interpretation of speakers’ utterances. However, it remains unknown what ...

 

Undergraduates Hannah Balick, Becca Kraut, and Alexander Shushunov present posters of research they've been conducting with the Linguistics Department.

 

Aiden will lead a discussion of Lepore and Stone's (2014) paper on Lewis' (1969) account of convention, which should serve as good background for the upcoming Mayfest.

 

Bruening (2014) has recently challenged the status of defective intervention as a real syntactic phenomenon, arguing that it is actually the effect of linear order. Our goal is to show that Bruening’s (2014) potential counterexamples to the existence of syntactic defective intervention are only apparent. We provide an explanation for his data based on adverb placement and the hierarchical architecture of clauses with experiencers.

 

Linguists and language activists find it difficult to win public support for preserving linguistic diversity and revitalizing endangered languages. Many remain unconvinced by the reasons linguists typically offer for valuing language diversity. One set of arguments focuses on the potential loss of traditional ecological knowledge and cultural heritage encoded in language, while another invokes a rights-based discourse, often anchored in a distributive and social justice framework. Although all of these have an important role to ...

 

Pied-piping in A-bar extraction represents a straightforward case of cross-linguistic variation within certain limits. For example, there are some languages, like English, which can ask wh-questions like the one in (1a); many more languages that can ask the wh-question in (1b); and (1c) is apparently unattested:

(1) a. [Who] are you talking with?
b. [With whom] are you talking?
c. *[Talking with whom] are you?

Cable (2007, 2010) introduced the functional projection QP, which dominates ...

 

Listeners adapt to novel accents quickly and effortlessly. Various hypotheses have been put forth about how people deal with unfamiliar speech, and, specifically, how they update their sound category representations in response to it. On the one hand, it has been suggested that listeners ‘expand’ their sound categories when exposed to a novel accent, meaning they generally allow more variability in how a particular sound can be pronounced. This is contrasted with a strategy in ...

 

The hope inherent in pursuing basic research is that sometime in the future the work will prove beneficial to society. This fruition can often take many years. However, in some instances, even the conduct of basic research can yield tangible societal benefits. I shall describe an effort that perhaps fits in this category. Named 'Project Prakash', this initiative provides sight to blind children on the one hand and helps address questions regarding brain plasticity and ...

 

Rachel will lead a discussion of Shevaun, Valentine and Jeff's manuscript on young children's understanding of belief reports and some related work by Shevaun and others on the effects of context in language acquisition.

 

Abstract:

In this presentation, I will argue that English has predication phrase (PredP) ellipsis, and that PredP ellipsis is different from VPE with two respects: (i) the licensor of PredP ellipsis is the copula, while the VPE licensor is overt T; and (ii) wh-extraction out of the ellipsis site is not allowed in PredP ellipsis, while there is no such a restriction in VPE. In addition, I will suggest that English PredP ellipsis is best ...

 

How do children acquire ordinals? On the basis of novel Dutch data (and some sneak-peek English data), this talk will show that linguistic knowledge influences the development of ordinals, and that ordinal acquisition benefits from a transparent relationship between a cardinal numeral and the form used to express an ordinal meaning. In other words, (ir)regular ordinal forms influence the patterns we see in ordinal acquisition. This is in contrast to what has been claimed ...

 

When speaking, talkers modulate the signal they produce to balance the conflicting goals of conveying meaning and speaking fluently. How talkers manage this modulation is responsive to information content (e.g. focus prosody, predictability) as well as sociolinguistic factors (e.g. gender, dialect). It is clear that many global phonetic characteristics change consistently with this modulation (e.g. speaking rate, vowel dispersion/reduction,) which may affect how easily the listener can understand the message. A ...

 

Successful language comprehension involves identifying grammatical roles in a sentence (who did what to whom?). It also involves navigating sentences whose structure is temporarily ambiguous. Given these challenges, children (but not adults) often fail to arrive at correct sentence interpretations. This experiment will use some handy aspects of German word order to further explore whether kids are globally blind to certain types of morphosyntactic cue, or whether their underdeveloped cognitive control skills are to blame ...

 

Natural scientists agree that energy is one of the most fundamental pre-requisites of life, and that none of life’s functions, from the minutely molecular to the vastly molar can be performed without a source of energy. The concept of energy is also quite popular in everyday discourse and one often hears references to “feeling energized”, “lacking energy” or trying to boost it through imbibing various “energy drinks.” It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that the ...

 

To learn the words and the grammar of their native language, children must analyze sentences into their constituent parts, and work out how the composition and arrangement of these constituents convey 'who does what to whom'. Traditional accounts assume that children solve this problem largely because they can infer the meanings of input sentences. In contrast, the syntactic-bootstrapping account proposes that children use partial knowledge of syntax to guide early sentence interpretation. My colleagues and ...

 

An important goal for the cognitive neuroscience of syntax and semantics is to move beyond general notions of “integration” when characterizing the combinatory system of language. My lab has studied the brain basis of combinatory operations for about a decade now, taking the results of formal semantics within theoretical linguistics as the model that fundamentally guides the experimentation. This work has revealed a shared combinatory network between comprehension and production comprising at least of the ...

 

The main aim that this research wants to contribute is to find evidence for or against two theoretical approaches to the syntax and semantics of pronouns and the proposed uniformity of pronouns and definites in one of the approaches (Elbourne 2005,2013). Acquisitional research already knows a lot about the production and comprehension of both phenomena, but so far, there haven’t been many studies that concentrate on their correlation. Both production and comprehension data ...

 

Theories of generative grammar are evaluated in terms of their fit to typology: the extent to which they succeed in generating all and only the linguistic systems observed cross-linguistically. Theories of learning in generative grammar are evaluated in terms of their success in finding a correct grammar for any language in the space of systems defined by a given grammatical theory. In this standard approach, learning does not play a role in typological modeling itself ...

 

The environment is highly stable over time. Not only do we repeatedly encounter the same people, places, and objects, but they also tend to appear in regular sequences and configurations. These regularities are extracted rapidly and often without effort or awareness, resulting in higher-order knowledge of words, events, and scenes. Based on behavioral studies, I will suggest that this kind of statistical learning has widespread consequences for the mind, including showing that it distorts the ...

 

Wh-questions in many languages are formed by moving the wh-phrase to the beginning of the sentence, away from the verb or preposition with which it is interpreted as a unit. The movement of a wh-phrase is subject to syntactic constraints that are usually referred to as "island constraints." For example, in the question in (1), which is judged to be unacceptable, the wh-phrase "which bill" is intended to be interpreted as part of a relative ...

 

Omer will be talking about words and the provocative thesis that there is no unit in linguistic theory that corresponds to our ordinary notion of a word. Readings are Marantz 1997, 2001.

 

In this presentation I will exam some interactions among negation, quantifiers and ellipsis resolution. The data that I will explore come from the behavior of reverse particles, which are found in languages from different families (French, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Lebanese Arabic, Hungarian, Icelandic and perhaps others). Reverse particles are used as responses or corrections to negative sentences previously uttered. They can be either used alone or followed by a positive clause as we can see ...

 

Humans group speech sounds into categories. The processes by which we do so are a topic up for debate. My research along these lines has led me to embrace dual-system models of phonetic category learning, where listeners first attempt to use abstract, rule-based decision-making processes to categorize sounds, then, if necessary, fall back on the memorization of stimulus-to-category mappings. We began testing these theories using a typical English-speaking undergraduate population, learning categories of German sounds ...

 

The goal of our research is identify the processes by which human infants with no prior linguistic knowledge and highly limited cognitive skills acquire the ability to understand and manipulate highly complex language systems in a short time and without explicit instruction. The talk will present results from studies that investigated how Japanese infants learn certain characteristics of Japanese phonology, knowledge of which is considered prerequisite for the acquisition of abstract, symbolic properties of language ...

 

Rachel Dudley, Kasia Hitzcenko, Nick Huang, Shota Momma and Laurel Perkins will each present a brief talk on their work and the research community it represents within the department.

 

The last decade has seen significant progress in understanding the functional neuroanatomy of language processing. I will present a series of multimodal neuroimaging studies in patients with acquired language deficits of diverse etiologies: stroke, neurodegenerative disease, and resective surgery. These studies have demonstrated robust relationships between damage to specific brain regions and resultant profiles of linguistic deficits, and have shown some ways in which the functional architecture of language processing is reorganized when brain regions ...

 

The task of event extraction in the biomedical domain corresponds to the systematic identification of interactions between different biomolecule entities in text. The biomedical community has been working towards the goal of creating a curated knowledge base of biomolecule entity interactions. Scientific literature in biomedical domain containing millions of articles is an excellent source of gathering such information. However automatically extracting information from text is a challenging task since natural language allows us to express ...

 

Whereas limits of visual processing are interesting in their own right, these limits take on a deeper meaning where vision integrates with other cognitive systems. It is at this point that limits within vision become limits that can affect the whole of cognition. I present evidence for one such case: an interface between vision, numerical cognition and the semantics of quantifier terms. The goal is to highlight a case where non-visual cognition (lexical meanings) interfaces ...

 

Jeff Lidz and Norbert Hornstein will give an overview of the linguistics department for prospective students. Lunch will be served.

 

Every human utterance, no matter how simple or straightforward, is constrained by its context and intended purpose. Accounts of pragmatic knowledge and processing are necessary to fully explain how infants learn language in the context of social interactions, and how adults use the system to communicate in actual conversations. It’s exciting, then, that the field of experimental pragmatics has been growing rapidly for the last 15 years. However, the new experimental data stand alongside ...

 

Many theories of verb learning propose that children can use information about a verb’s syntactic properties to make inferences about its meaning (syntactic bootstrapping, e.g. Gleitman 1990). On one bootstrapping hypothesis, children expect the number of participants in an event to match one-to-one the number of arguments of a verb describing that event—a heuristic called Participant-to-Argument Matching (PAM) (e.g. Naigles, 1990). Using this heuristic, a child who identifies that a verb ...

 

Over the last two decades, functional MRI has provided extensive evidence that some regions of the human brain are engaged very specifically in single mental processes. Yet, the idea of functional specificity in the brain is often described as old-fashioned, something that sophisticated modern neuroscientists have moved beyond. I will argue that many of these critiques result from misconceptions and confusions, and that in fact the evidence for functional specificity is stronger than ever. I ...

 

The ultimate goal of most events of sentence comprehension is to correctly update a ‘discourse representation’ on the basis of the intended message of the speaker/writer and relevant aspects of how they conveyed that message. However, cognitive models of the discourse representation are still underspecified and incomplete, and research in education and in populations with disordered language comprehension still struggle to define sensitive measures of these representations in reading and speech comprehension. In this ...

 

(In collaboration with: Román Orús, Roger Martin, Michael Jarret, and Ángel Gallego.)  

There is a sense in which an object occupying two different configurations as in (1a) is puzzling, as is the fact that it can be pronounced “up” (1b) or “down” (1c), but not in both sites (1d) (similar considerations obtain for interpretation):  

(1a)   [Armies [arrived armies]]

(1b)   Armies arrived.

(1c)   There arrived armies.

(1d) *Armies arrived armies.

Also puzzling is the fact that ...

 

Any functional distinction between a language and dialect appears to be largely sociopolitical, and is therefore typically excluded from serious discussions of theoretical linguistics. However, the disassociation between grammatical and sociocultural communicative competence appears to be a false one. Studies of sociophonetic perception reveal that listeners rapidly extract dialect information from the speech stream, consistently relying on learned acoustic markers of group identity. This speaker-independent, pre-attentive categorization process appears to introduce distortions to downstream processing ...

 

The action of reading, understanding and combining words to create meaningful phrases comes naturally to most people. Still, the processes that govern semantic composition in the human brain are not well understood. In this talk, I will explore semantics (word meaning) and semantic composition (combining the meaning of multiple words) using two data sources: a large text corpus, and brain recordings of people reading adjective noun phrases. Through the learning of latent representations, I will ...

 

In this talk, I discuss a series of experiments and simulations that investigate the role of vowel and consonant categories in first (L1) and second language (L2) perception. The talk is roughly split into three parts. In Part I, I present a computational model used to assess categorical effects in native language speech perception. By fitting the model to behavioral data from past experiments, I show how our model is able to capture a range ...

 

The currency of science is publishing. Producing novel, positive, and clean results maximizes the likelihood of publishing success because those are the best kind of results. There are multiple ways to produce such results: (1) be a genius, (2) be lucky, (3) be patient, or (4) employ flexible analytic and selective reporting practices to manufacture beauty. In a competitive marketplace with minimal accountability, it is hard to avoid (4). But, there is a way. With ...

 

In this talk I provide an overview of an exemplar-based evidence-accumulation model of categorization and recognition decision making and its applications to empirical data, including its accounts of intriguing dissociations that have been demonstrated between categorization and recognition memory. According to Nosofsky and Palmeri’s (1997, 2015) exemplar-based random-walk model, people represent categories by storing individual exemplars in memory. Presentation of a test item causes the exemplars to be retrieved. The retrieved exemplars drive an ...

 

Distinguished syntactician David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London, is giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

This final lecture turns to a simplification of the structure building operation Merge itself. In Borges' short story, Funes the Memorious, the protagonist has such a prodigious memory that every moment's existence of every object is distinct to him, and generalization becomes impossible. It is the limits on our ...

 

As an infant learns their native language, they must learn to recognize words in a variety of different contexts: different sentences, spoken at different speeds and in different ways. The infant must learn how much variation is permissible within a single word or sound category, and what sorts of variants are most likely to occur. Computational cognitive models provide insight into the acquisition process by showing what sorts of evidence are most useful for solving ...

 

Distinguished syntactician David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London, is giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

This, the second lecture, shows how to build a syntactic system that separates the building of structures from their labelling via the elimination of all heads from the syntax, except semantically contentful roots (an extension of the system presented in Adger 2013). No heads means no head movement, and I ...

 

Distinguished syntactician David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London, is giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett. This is the first.

Usually simplification of a syntactic system leads to an increase in its expressive power, as the removal of restrictions widens the potential richness of representations. The proposal, within Minimalist Syntax, to reduce the structure building part of the grammar to the operation Merge, has lead to ...

 

Distinguished syntactician David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London, will be giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

  • Lecture 1 (Feb. 1, 3:30-5:00): A menagerie of Merges

    Usually simplification of a syntactic system leads to an increase in its expressive power, as the removal of restrictions widens the potential richness of representations. The proposal, within Minimalist Syntax, to reduce the structure building part of the ...

 

This talk concerns an problematic paradigm in English and other languages that I will call coordinated wh questions (CWh for short). An example of an acceptable CWh is given in (1) below.

(1) What and when did Jane eat?

These sentences are odd in that the superficially seem to involve the coordination of a argument wh-word and an adjunct wh-word. Or, failing that, it appears there is overt movement of multiple wh-words within a single ...

 

Theorising about lexical modulation is guided by the assumption that words express concepts which in turn have extensions. In this framework lexical modulation is taken to be the narrowing/broadening of the extension of a concept. We argue that there are cases of lexical modulation that cannot be explained in terms of the guiding assumption about meaning. Lexical modulation, it turns out, is a more general phenomenon that can only be fully captured on a ...

 

Tim Dawson will be presenting his honors thesis work, which utilizes a preferential looking task to examine whether 24-month-olds use Principle C or clausal transitivity to interpret sentences with disjoint reference.

 

HAVE verbs often acquire necessity and/or futurate and future uses (e.g.,~English "have to", French "lir-a" read-HAVE `will read'). Ukrainian, at least from the 16th and up to the early 20th century, featured an unusual development: its HAVE verb "maty" had a possibility meaning in addition to necessity and futurate.

The talk consists of three parts. First, I show that the possibility meaning for Ukr. "maty" was indeed present both in the 16th ...

 

"Know" and "think" occur in overlapping linguistic contexts but differ in factivity: only in using "know" does the speaker presuppose the truth of the complement. In contrast to the relative wealth of knowledge about when children acquire factivity, not much is known about how the child comes to this understanding. Using corpus methods, we examine children's input to determine which distributional cues (e.g., pragmatic, syntactic) might be informative about the (non-)factivity of ...

 

One question of enduring interest for psycholinguists is the question of how closely real-time sentence processing routines align with grammatical knowledge: does the competence grammar directly constrain sentence comprehension, or does it play a secondary role, 'cleaning up' the results of a comprehension process driven by heuristics (Lewis & Phillips, 2015; Patson & Ferreira, 2007; Townsend & Bever, 2001)? Much experimental work has provided evidence for the view that the human sentence processor is directly constrained by grammatical ...

 

Constraints on a certain type of long-distance dependency, called island constraints, have been a central focus of the syntax literature for several decades (Ross 1967, Chomsky 1973, Huang 1982, Chomsky 2001, inter alia). An illustration of an island constraint is given in (1) and (2), where what in (1) is interpreted as the instrument of the poking event, while in (2) no such reading is available. Several highly influential studies have investigated children’s knowledge ...

 

Bat echolocation is an active and adaptive system: its success depends upon a tight coupling between the animal’s actions and perception. Bats produce ultrasonic vocalizations and extract 3-D spatial information from the environment by processing echoes from objects in the path of the sound beam. In cluttered environments, each sonar vocalization results in a cascade of echoes from objects distributed in direction and distance, which the bat must perceptually organize to represent the positions ...

 

Title: No ambiguity in the acquisition of adjunct control
Juliana Gerard
Abstract: Previous research on the acquisition of adjunct control has found that preschool-aged children allow non-adultlike interpretations of PRO in sentences like "John bumped Mary after PRO tripping on the sidewalk." However, variability in rate of non-adultlike interpretations suggests that task-related factors may have contributed to children’s behavior. Furthermore, no single account explains all of the data. In two Truth Value Judgment Task ...

 

How do language and ideas propagate through communities? We use computational linguistics to extract social meaning from language to help understand this crucial link between individual cognition and social groups. I'll discuss the way economic, social, and psychological variables are reflected in the language we use to talk about food. I'll introduce the "ketchup theory of innovation" on the crucial role that interdisciplinarity plays in the history of innovation and how it can ...

 

The association between word forms and their meanings is in constant flux. In this work we apply computational linguistics to model meaning change, extending classic hypotheses from historical linguistics that date back to the 19th century. The model draws on vector semantics, in which the meaning of a word is represented as a point in a vector space, and a word's evolution as a path through this space over time. We trace the semantic ...

 

Indefinites, wh-in-situ, and focus all display a characteristic insensitivity to islands. But a unified formal treatment of this island-insensitivity has proved elusive, and the extant piecemeal accounts (e.g., choice functions and alternative semantics) tend to both over- and under- generate, even with respect to their more narrowly construed empirical domains.

This talk argues that a new variety of alternative semantics offers a unified and empirically robust explanation of this data. This is accomplished by ...

 

Despite the complexity that underlies the process of language production, speech is relatively error free. The errors that do occur, however, tend to be rule bound (e.g. phoneme exchanges occur within consonants or vowels, semantic exchanges occur within grammatical class, real words are more likely than non-words, and taboo words are less likely than neutral words). In addition, these errors are usually rapidly corrected, even under circumstances when overt speech perception is masked. These ...

 

This lecture, to the entire University community, celebrates Jeff's recognition as a Distinguished Scholar Teacher.

Wherever we find communities of human beings, we also find language. Moreover, cats, dogs and houseplants, despite living in the very same environment, all fail to display linguistic behavior. These basic observations suggest that language is unique to and definitional of our species. However, there is one population of ostensibly human creatures that is curiously silent when it comes ...

 

I will be sharing some ongoing research about mathematical models of bare phrase structure, leading up to a proposal for an innovative spatial model.

In the first week, I will demonstrate that the category of BPS phrase markers, viewed solely as a subcategory of membership-ordered sets, is not rich enough to keep track of the syntactically significant “spatial” data in the category of phrase markers. I will show that the data needed to enrich this ...

 

The Language Science Center outreach team hosts groups of students from local high schools and middle schools every year. We're excited to welcome a visit from a new middle school, the Southern Maryland Christian Academy. Twenty-five students from their Grade 7 Science class will tour the CNL lab and the MEG lab at the MNC. William, Maxime, Ilina, Natalia, and Anna will lead activities illustrating the scientific method and its application in experimental language ...

 

I will be sharing some ongoing research about mathematical models of bare phrase structure, leading up to a proposal for an innovative spatial model.

In the first week, I will demonstrate that the category of BPS phrase markers, viewed solely as a subcategory of membership-ordered sets, is not rich enough to keep track of the syntactically significant “spatial” data in the category of phrase markers. I will show that the data needed to enrich this ...

 

If you have a big family, remembering who is in what relation to whom may be a daunting task. Language users might face a similar kind of problem. Decades of work in linguistics show that a small number of structural relations govern a wide range of syntactic dependencies. In particular, the logical scope relation, known in linguistic circles as c-command, has particularly pervasive effects. People seem to be very sensitive to violations of c-command requirements ...

 

This talk presents a new model of the complex form-function relationship found in natural language, with application to language modeling, syntactic dependency parsing, and translation. Linguistic systems avail themselves of two representational extremes: arbitrariness and compositionality. The former, articulated first by de Saussure (1916), addresses the unmotivated nature of the relationship between the form of words and their functions/meanings. The latter, articulated by Frege (1892), is that meaning is determined by a formally transparent ...

 

Recent discussions of the evolution of language involve two alternate views: (a) autonomous syntax rests on a unique genetically determined structure; (b) what looks like “autonomous syntax” derives from other genetically determined brain systems, e.g., motor control, learning, communication, along with cultural elaboration and transmission. In this talk, I review behavioral and neurological differences for language and other cognitive behaviors in two large genetically differentiated normal groups: The differences suggest a specific kind of ...

 

Recent investigations in language and cognition have revived the notions of the role of natural formal laws in cognition and language. In this talk, I discuss the impact of the golden ratio in aesthetic preferences, and its implications for the perception of depth. The golden ratio – as the limit of the Fibonacci series – appears throughout nature, in both biological and physical systems. The two Aristotelian aesthetic theories can explain the preference for the golden ratio ...

 

Comprehenders can predict upcoming words given a partial input. Similarly, many modern computer apps can predict upcoming words given a partial input. Both rely on some form of memory about past linguistic input to generate prediction. In this talk, I will argue that comprehenders, unlike many computer apps, generate prediction (mostly) based on the semantic memory that is abstracted away from the surface (i.e., form-related) properties of previously encountered strings. Based on this view ...

 

The talk focuses on the monitoring/control loop which regulates language production. I'll review the conflict-based monitoring account with evidence from individuals with aphasia, as well as children, and discuss recent findings from my lab on enforcement of post-monitoring control over language production.

 

This talk takes as its starting point the complementarity (or apparent complementarity) between the locality conditions that apply to head movement, and those that apply to phrasal movement (cf. Pesetsky & Torrego 2001:363). As a first approximation, head movement must be maximally local (the Head Movement Constraint; Travis 1984), while phrasal movement cannot be maximally local (Anti-Locality; Abels 2003).

As is often noted, however, feature-driven conceptions of minimality predict that there would be nothing wrong ...

 

The Lexicalist Hypothesis, which says that the component of grammar that produces words is distinct and strictly separate from the component that produces phrases, is both wrong and superfluous. It is wrong because there are numerous instances where phrasal syntax feeds word formation, and where phrasal syntax can access sub-word parts. It is superfluous because all the facts that are supposed to be accounted for by the Lexicalist Hypothesis follow from any adequate theory of ...

 

Humans are a social species and much of what we know we learn from others. To be effective and efficient learners, children must be selective about when to innovate, when to imitate, and to what degree. In a systematic program of interdisciplinary, mixed-methodological, and cross-cultural research, my objective is to develop an ontological account of how children flexibly use imitation and innovation as dual engines of cultural learning. Imitation is multifunctional; it is used to ...

 

Abstract:

Palauan (Austronesian) displays a unique pattern of object-marking. In the perfective aspect, object-agreement morphology is realized on the verb. In the imperfective, no agreement morphology is realized and an independent pattern of Differential Object Marking arises (e.g. Josephs 1975, Georgopoulos 1991, Woolford 2000, Nuger 2007 et seq.). In this talk, I discuss the initial findings of an ongoing research project, concerned with how to best model the attested aspectual split and to understand ...

 

This study examined the role of phrase frequency and probabilistic information during on-line processing of multi-word sequences in both native and nonnative speakers. Research has revealed the effect of phrase frequency during the processing of multi-word sequences; however, these studies are inadequate for at least three reasons. First, most of them used high frequency target materials solely; hence we do not know whether the claimed effect can apply to multi-word units of lower frequency. Second ...

 

Music and language share important features, however these shared features have distinct functions in each domain. For example, although melody is a fundamental organizing structure in a song, it is far less important than the lexical and syntactic structure of a spoken sentence. From an early age, listeners are exposed to both music and language, and they must eventually acquire specific knowledge about the rules that govern sound structure in each domain. My research program ...

 

A central project in philosophy of language and in linguistics has been to find a systematic relation between the sounds we make and the meanings we manage to convey in making them. The meanings speakers mean appear to depend in various ways on context. On the orthodox view, a syntactically disambiguated sound completely determines what is directly asserted by the speaker (what is said), relative to a context that serves only to fix values for ...

 

Discussion of 'An architecture for encoding sentence meaning in left mid-superior temporal cortex' by Frankland and Greene (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/37/11732.full?sid=b9968895-810f-4713-8887-ae0445dfa79b).

 

What makes one item in memory more accessible than another in language processing? While evidence is steadily mounting in favor of a cue-based parsing system (e.g., Lewis & Vasishth, 2005), in which items are directly accessed in parallel and compared against the retrieval cue in an associative cue-matching procedure, numerous choice points in the retrieval architecture remain open. One choice point is the extent to which linguistic structure and grammatical constraints influence retrieval; another is ...

 

Darwin famously stated in the Descent of Man that "the difference in mind between man and higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind." I will argue that the evidence shows quite the opposite: the difference is one of kind and not degree. I first show that nonhuman animal cognition is highly myopic, focused on narrow adaptive problems. Thus, when we look at claims of teaching, tool use ...

 

Our impressive abilities to process complex sound and structure may be most evident in language and music. In fact, there is growing evidence that structural processing in language and music draws on shared cognitive and neural resources. However, other work suggests linguistic and musical structure draw on largely separable processes based, for example, on dissociations in brain damaged individuals. I will discuss studies aimed at resolving these discrepancies, and argue that language/music relationships reflect ...

 

It is a fact that humans destroy the lives of other humans — strangers, friends, lovers, and kin — and have been doing so for a long time. These cases are unsurprising and easily explained: We harm others when it benefits us directly, fighting to win resources or wipe out the competition. In this sense we are no different from any other social animal. The mystery is why seemingly normal people torture, mutilate, and kill others for ...

 

A key question in language processing regards how we build up meaning representations as we understand a sentence. Within the relevant literature are various claims that the interpretation process may under certain conditions involve "shallow processing": roughly, extracting meaning in a superficial or unstructured fashion. Various phenomena broadly support the idea that meaning extraction is at times "gisty" or underspecified, but lack of explicit models leaves us unclear as to whether "shallow processing" should in ...

 

Object recognition is a fundamental cognitive task that we perform countless times every day – such as right now when reading the words in this abstract. Yet, despite the apparent ease with which we see, object recognition is a very difficult computational problem. It is even more difficult from a biological perspective, since it involves several levels of understanding, from the level of cellular and biophysical mechanisms up to the level of brain systems and behavior ...

 

In this talk, I will present a framework for word learning in which meaning is instantiated through occurrences in context. I will present data from experiments suggesting that meaning features are limited to the variety of contextual experiences to which a learner is exposed. This behavioral data is supported by neurophysiological responses in the N400 ERP response. Lastly, I will present a computational model that may account for this approach.

 

In this paper, I will provide novel data from Korean showing that VP, which has never been considered as an ellipsis site in Korean, is an ellipsis site. In addition, I will argue that VP ellipsis in Korean is PF deletion that occurs during the syntactic derivation. (I will call this derivational PF deletion.) Lastly, I will propose that derivational PF deletion removes PF components of elements inside the ellipsis site, but preserves formal features ...

 

Annual event that brings together language science faculty and students from across the University of Maryland. Includes lunch, presentations, poster session, and evening party.

  • 12 - 1:15 Lunch and updates
  • 1:15 - 2:15 Public Impact (panel and discussion)
  • 2:15 - 2:45 Reception
  • 2:45 - 4:15 Poster sessions
  • 4:15 - 5:00 Computation and Cognition (panel and discussion)
 

Vision depends on motion: we see things either because they move or because our eyes do. What may be more surprising is that large and miniature eye motions help us examine the world in similar ways - largely at the same time. In this presentation, I will discuss recent research from my lab and others suggesting that exploration and gaze-fixation are not all that different processes in the brain. Our eyes scan visual scenes with a ...

 

Conjoined singular determiner phrases like ‘the cabinet and the dresser’ do not contain any overt plural morphology, although the entire conjoined phrase is notionally plural. It has been argued that the plural agreement we see with these conjuncts is the result of notional agreement, in which notional number trumps grammatical number (Brehm & Bock, 2013). In the current study, we use agreement attraction to investigate the morphosyntactic representation of number on conjoined singular DPs and the ...

 

Five undergraduate students will share with us brief presentations of the funded research projects that they worked on this past summer. Four of the students were funded via the generosity of Dave Baggett (via the Baggett Summer Scholarship program) and one was funded via the generosity of CASL (via the CASL Language Sciences Summer Scholarship program).

Anna Ball will present her work from the acquisition lab on children's syntactic bootstrapping of attitude verbs.

Courtney ...

 

We will start off the semester with a student-only town hall meeting this Thursday, September 10th. Please encourage new students to come so they can find out more about our language science community and how to get involved!

Lunch will be served at 12:15, and we will begin at 12:30.

 

PHLING

Meeting

Our first meeting of the year. We'll do introductions and take care of organizational matters then talk about the agenda for the year. Dinner will be served.

 

The CNL Lab will be resuming regular Friday lab meetings with its annual kickoff meeting. Each person in attendance (faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students encouraged!) will give a brief summary of his/her interests and work.

Everybody gets a maximum of 1 slide to introduce themselves, what they’re interested in, or what they’ve been up to recently. This could be their overall goals, or plans for this semester, or what they worked ...

 

The traditional season-opener, in which we all meet our new students and visitors, and enjoy the first of many free lunches they will earn within the UMD Linguistics family.

 

Attitude verbs (e.g., think, want, hope) report mental states. Learning the meanings of attitude verbs may be difficult for language learners for several reasons; including the abstractness of the concepts that they refer to, and the linguistic. In this dissertation, we investigate the learning process for these words, by looking at an asymmetry that has been observed in the acquisition trajectory: want, which refers to desires, has been claimed to be acquired before think ...

 

The Linguistics Department's Commencement for graduate and undergraduate students will take place on Friday, May 22nd, 10:30AM in the 1400 auditorium (Marie Mount Hall). This is a large auditorium, so there should be seats for visitors.

Graduating students and faculty should meet in 1401 MMH by 10:15 at the latest.

The ceremony is scheduled to end at around by 12:00pm with a reception to follow next to the auditorium, in the ...

 

Undergraduates Anna Ball, Bradford Salen, and Grace Hynes are presenting posters, as final projects for Ling448, Advanced Laboratory Research in Linguistics. They have been working in the Project on Children's Language Learning, part of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, with Dr Jeffrey Lidz. The posters will be attended from 12:30 to 1:30, with time to socialize and mingle afterwards. All are invited.

 

In any given theoretical syntax paper, there are often two types of informal experimental work on display - exploratory work that gathers a large number of data points together for the creative exercise of theory construction, and confirmatory work that seeks to distinguish between two or more competing theories through well-defined empirical predictions. My impression of the experimental syntax literature (and my own work in particular) is that formal experiments have proven useful for confirmatory work ...

 

Sometimes an aspect of speaker meaning corresponds to no audible expression in the sentence uttered. E.g., 'The ship was sunk to collect the insurance' can be used to mean that the ship was sunk so that the sinker might collect the insurance. Implicit control is a unique kind of anaphora in that both anaphor (the understood collector) and antecedent (the implied sinker) are unpronounced. In four self-paced reading time studies, we investigate the processing ...

 

I would like to discuss several experiments we did together with my present and former MA students from St.Petersburg State University. Much work has been devoted to number attraction errors in subject-verb agreement (e.g. "*The key to the cabinets were rusty"). Among other things, it was noted that: (i) only plural attractors cause a significant effect; (ii) in languages with morphological case, attraction is much stronger when the form of the attractor coincides ...

 

Theories of grammars, or the mapping between sounds and meanings, are typically constructed on the basis of patterns of acceptable sound-meaning pairings. However, theories of grammars also define the space of possible representations the parser can construct in real time, and make commitments about what information the learner must be able to detect in her primary linguistic data. Rarely are these consequences of specific grammatical accounts pursued carefully. In this talk, I take two controversial ...

 

Mayfest is a workshop that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to discuss fundamental issues in linguistics. This year’s Mayfest will center around morphology. The three central themes that we will be addressing are:

(i) What is morphology? How do we distinguish morphological processes from syntactic or phonological ones? (ii) What is the trajectory for morphological learning in language acquisition? (iii) What insight does morphology provide into language processing and ...

 

The capacity to remember the past in vivid detail develops considerably during childhood and emerges from the contribution of several psychological processes. I will highlight the contribution of two classes of these, relational binding processes and metacognitive processes. Relational binding processes support the integration of the various features of an event (e.g., what, when, where) into a memory representation that captures the most important aspects of an experience. Metacognitive processes confer the ability to ...

 

Lexical tones are widely believed to be extremely difficult for adult second language learners to acquire, but this belief is based almost entirely on anecdote. In contrast, a large number of studies examining naive learners of lexical tones suggests that many learners are able to make quick progress in learning to identify tones (add caveats here). This presentation will describe a project that will be conducted this coming summer and uses a variety of tasks ...

 

This talk is about the nature and causal determinants of both reflective thinking and, more generally, the stream of consciousness. I argue that conscious thought is always sensory based, relying on the resources of the working-memory system. This system has been much studied by cognitive scientists. It enables sensory images to be sustained and manipulated through attentional signals directed at midlevel sensory areas of the brain. When abstract conceptual representations are bound into these images ...

 

King, Linzen, Marantz

Are syntactic categories like noun and verb categories of stems, such that the noun and verb versions of ambiguous stems like hammer are distinct, though related, lexical items, or are syntactic categories carried by affixes attached to uncategorized roots, such that noun and verb versions of ambiguous stems are derived forms built on a single root? This paper addresses the representational question posed by syntactic categories by examining the processing of category ...

 

Theories of grammars, or the mapping between sounds and meanings, are typically constructed on the basis of patterns of acceptable sound-meaning pairings. However, theories of grammars also define the space of possible representations the parser can construct in real time, and make commitments about what information the learner must be able to detect in her primary linguistic data. Rarely are these consequences of specific grammatical accounts pursued carefully. In this talk, I take two controversial ...

 

Since Santelmann and Jusczyk's (1998) investigation of English-learning infants' sensitivity to discontinuous morphosyntactic dependencies, there has been considerable research investigating the mechanisms of non-adjacent dependency learning. Many of the ensuing studies involved artificial languages, and the investigation of dependencies at the level of words, syllables, and segments. While these studies targeted characteristics of natural language structure they were interested in examining, others were sacrificed, opening them up to questions about their relevance to theories ...

 

Language is often used to describe the changes that occur around us – changes in either state (“I cracked the glass…”) or location (“I moved the glass onto the table…”). To fully comprehend such events requires that we represent the ‘before’ and ‘after’ states of the object. But how do we represent these mutually exclusive states of a single object at the same time? I shall summarise a series of studies, primarily from fMRI, which show ...

 

During spoken word recognition, many lexical options are active. Bilinguals are thought to have to manage more lexical options than bilinguals, which may lead to advantages in executive function. Previous visual world studies have demonstrated a relationship between the number of looks to a distractor picture that is phonologically related to the target (e.g., dress-drum) and tasks measuring inhibitory control in bilinguals (e.g., Blumenfeld & Marian, 2007; Marian, Pivneva, & Titone, 2014). This same relationship ...

 

Selecting and sequencing linguistic representations is a necessary component of sentence production. Damage to the left frontal cortex might impair this process, leading to non-fluent production in aphasia. In this talk, I will describe behavioral and neuroimaging studies with stroke patients and healthy adults that shed light on the neural substrates underlying selection/sequencing. The results inform our understanding of the role that general cognitive mechanisms play in language and possible sub-specialization within those mechanisms.

 

Since Hintikka (1969), attitudes of belief and desire (Alice thinks it will rain, Alice wants it to rain) have been fruitfully analyzed as modal statements. Authors subsequent to Hintikka have argued on the basis of data from English and related languages that all modal meaning characteristic of attitudes is ‘bundled’ into the entries of attitude verbs (e.g. think, wish, want). Attitude verbs are analyzed as universal modals quantifying over worlds consistent with, e.g ...

 

Bilingual language production is widely believed to be a competitive process. Bilinguals may manage this competition by relying on inhibiting one language while speaking in the other. However, it remains unclear if this process relies on inhibitory mechanisms, and, if so, when and where during language production inhibitory control is applied. I will discuss some of the previous evidence for inhibitory control as well as address the findings from my own research which investigates these ...

 

4-5 year old children have been reported to show non-adultlike behavior for sentences like:

(1) John bumped Mary after PRO tripping on the sidewalk

In (1), PRO is bound by the main clause subject (John), but children have been reported to allow object interpretations of PRO. One possible explanation for children's non-adultlike interpretations is that they treat PRO as a silent pronoun (like pro), similar to the overt pronoun in:

(2) John bumped Bill ...

 

I will discuss two new studies from my lab that focus on general questions about the cognitive science and neural implementation of speech and language. I come to (currently) unpopular conclusions about both questions. Based on a first set of experiments, using fMRI and exploiting the temporal statistics of speech, I argue for the existence of a speech-specific processing stage that implicates a particular neuronal substrate (the superior temporal sulcus). In a second set of ...

 

Although language is often written using clear boundaries between words (as in the orthographic space), spoken language does not contain such clear boundaries. Here, we investigate one approach listeners might use to segment words in speech: using top-down cognitive control. We used a conflict adaptation paradigm to investigate this, where we mixed together Stroop trials with trials where participants had to respond to pictures based on how they segmented words within a sentence. The sentences ...

 

Among the word-formation mechanisms, compounding seems to be the universally fundamental process. Alongside the other ways to generate multi-morphemic words, namely inflection and derivation, it offers a very flexible and productive means, by which two or three free lexemes can combine (Dressler, 2006). Due to the “extra” complexity at both semantic and morphological levels, compounds are handled independently from inflection and derivation, yet they might encapsulate these two systems in their encodings as evidenced in ...

 

ABSTRACT:

I present a nativist proposal about theory of mind development that takes into account both children’s social experiences and the maturation of their executive capacities. Specifically, I argue that we can understand the shift in children’s performance on standard false belief tasks around four years of age partly as the result of learning about the pragmatics of belief discourse, and partly due to the maturation of their response-conflict inhibition capacity. In contrast ...

 

Perception involves a complex interaction between feedforward (bottom-up) sensory-driven inputs and feedback (top-down) attention and memory-driven processes. A mechanistic understanding of feedforward processing, and its limitations, is a necessary first step towards elucidating key aspects of perceptual functions and dysfunctions. In this talk, I will review our ongoing effort towards the development of a large-scale, neurophysiologically accurate computational model of feedforward visual processing in the primate cortex. I will present experimental evidence from a recent ...

 

In this meeting, we'll briefly review some of the points in Lidz, Gleiman, & Gleitman (2001) "Kidz in the 'Hood" (assigned reading for acquisition lab students) in preparation for discussing White, Hacquard & Lidz (in prep) "Projecting Attitudes." The abstract for the latter paper can be found below.

This paper explores the granularity with which a word's semantic properties are specified in its syntactic distribution, taking propositional attitude verbs (PAVs), such as "think" and "want ...

 

The purpose of this thesis is to construct a theory to derive how pied-piping of formal features of a moved element takes place, by which some syntactic phenomena related to φ-features can be accounted for. Contrary to Chomsky’s (1995) proposal on the generalized pied-piping, Ura (2001) proposes that pied-piping of formal features of a moved element is constrained by an economy condition like relativized minimality. On the basis of Ura’s (2001) proposal, I ...

 

Propositional attitude verbs (e.g.: want, think, know, hope) are acquired relatively late and it has been argued that the syntactic distribution of the input would be particularly useful for acquiring these verbs (Gleitman 1990, among others). For example, the types of complements that occur with a particular attitude verb can betray both coarse-grained (1) and fine-grained (2) differences in meaning.

(1) Finiteness of complement → representational vs. preferential
a. Mary {wants/thinks} John to go ...

 

Joint Linguistics + CLIP Colloquium

Linguists and computational linguists have come up with some quite useful theories of the semantics of function words and the corresponding logical elements such as generalized quantifiers and negation (Woods 1968; Montague, 1973; Steedman 2012). There has been much less progress in defining a usable semantics for content words. The effects of this deficiency are very bad: linguists find themselves in the embarrassing position of saying that the meaning of "seek ...

 

AUTHOR: Nick Huang

TITLE: Is there syntactic tense in Mandarin Chinese?

ABSTRACT:

Whether Mandarin Chinese has syntactic tense has been the subject of much debate. I offer novel observations of the distribution and syntactic properties on a less-studied future-marking particle, jiang. I argue that jiang is syntactically a future tense morpheme, and not a modal auxiliary, nor a time adverb, nor an irrealis marker. Mandarin Chinese clauses are minimally T(ense)Ps, like clauses in ...

 

This talk proposes a connection between the findings from the cross-linguistic research on restructuring, in particular the diversity of domain transparency for operations such as clitic climbing and scrambling, and various puzzles related to the domain of quantifier raising (QR). Based on the distribution of restructuring in a wide range of languages, I first present new evidence for a Grohmann’sche organization of clauses into three domains. I then show that difficulties and inconsistencies reported ...

 

Studies on the ontogenetic origins of human knowledge suggest that cognition does not arise as a blank slate. On the contrary, the human mind appears to be built on a set of core knowledge systems that represent significant aspects of the environment such as physical objects, living beings, spatial relationships, and number. Core knowledge systems are evolutionarily ancient, and they can be investigated from a comparative perspective. I shall discuss evidence showing precocious abilities in ...

 

The current project examined the influence of orthographic experience on the development of phonological preparation unit in spoken word production in native Mandarin-speaking children. Previous research has shown that the acquisition of orthographic knowledge reconstructs literate speakers’ phonological representation and the acquisition of alphabetic orthographic knowledge improves children’s phonological awareness at the phonemic level. However, few studies have investigated the influence of orthographic experience on phonological retrieval and encoding in spoken word production. The ...

 

A common pivot in debates about the nature of human language concerns the role of experience in shaping language development. While many have found young learners to be prodigious statistical learners and to display clear effects of quantity and quality of input on their ultimate language outcomes, others have focused on cases where the input is impoverished relative to the ultimate acquired knowledge. In this talk, I examine the properties of the learner that make ...

 

Abstract: "Long-Distance WH-Questions in Child Language"

Children acquiring several languages (English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese) produce medial wh-questions, as in (i) and (ii), where an "extra" wh-phrase appears in embedded SpecCP:

(i) Who do you think who was really good? (ii) What do you think what animal runs very fast?

These productions are interesting mainly because:

  • The target languages do not allow these constructions, but
  • There are adult languages in which they are possible (German ...
 

Darwin famously stated in the Descent of Man that "the difference in mind between man and higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind." I will argue that the evidence shows quite the opposite: the difference is one of kind and not degree. I first show that nonhuman animal cognition is highly myopic, focused on narrow adaptive problems. Thus, when we look at claims of teaching, tool use ...

 

It is a fact that humans destroy the lives of other humans — strangers, friends, lovers, and kin — and have been doing so for a long time. These cases are unsurprising and easily explained: We harm others when it benefits us directly, fighting to win resources or wipe out the competition. In this sense we are no different from any other social animal. The mystery is why seemingly normal people torture, mutilate, and kill others for ...

 

Among the word-formation mechanisms, compounding seems to be the universally fundamental process. Alongside the other ways to generate multi-morphemic words, namely inflection and derivation, it offers a very flexible and productive means, by which two or three free lexemes can combine (Dressler, 2006). Due to the “extra” complexity at both semantic and morphological levels, compounds are handled independently from inflection and derivation, yet they might encapsulate these two systems in their encodings as evidenced in ...

 

According to Tomasello, the emergence of pointing played a revolutionary role in human phylogeny, by making possible new forms of coordinated hunting activities, pedagogy, and language acquisition. On Tomasello’s account, the emergence of pointing is itself supposed to be the result of an earlier socio-cognitive revolution, in which our early hominin ancestors developed new cognitive mechanisms for communication, and new forms of prosocial motivation. I will argue that the assumption that pointing was made ...

 

Clean Mapping: A sketchy story about how conceptual structure could shape language acquisition and some experiments suggesting that it just might be true

To acquire syntax, children must map sentences to their meanings (structured conceptual representations). If these conceptual representations are available prior to language, have a similar structure to the syntax, and have the right degree of abstraction, then this learning process could be pretty painless. I'll discuss an apparent counter-example (psych verbs ...

 

GALANA provides an outlet for cutting edge work on language acquisition, relating results in first and second language acquisition to detailed hypotheses about developing grammatical representations, the mechanisms by which these representations are acquired, and the information processing mechanisms through which these representations are engaged in real time language use by first and second language learners. Invited speakers are Liliana Sanchez (Rutgers) and Antonella Sorace (Edinburgh, Bilingualism Matters).

In addition to the general session, there ...

 

Neuroscientists and clinicians use several noninvasive imaging methods to gain insight into the anatomy of the human brain and the distribution and temporal orchestration of its activity. It is regularly emphasized that one should strive for the best possible temporal and spatial resolution. However, this quest for the philosopher's stone of brain imaging often ignores the fact that, especially for the functional imaging methods, the phenomena probed have inherent time scales and the temporal ...

 

Production of the appropriate word requires selection of the correct lexical representation and its corresponding segments amongst competitors, as well as processes that monitor planned speech to detect and correct deviations from the intended word. I will discuss two types of control processes required during selection and monitoring phases. Selection-internal control can be studied when selection is made difficult by introducing competitors that are similar to the target. Selection-external control can be investigated when a ...

 

Most primates seem specialized for social life, yet how biology shapes complex social behaviors remains poorly understood. To address this gap, we study the biology and behavior of rhesus macaques in both the laboratory and the field. Recent work in the lab shows that monkeys favor giving rewards to another monkey, particularly if he is more familiar or subordinate, rather than give the rewards to no one. Oxytocin—a hormone implicated in social bonding—makes ...

 

Lexical access for bilinguals is hypothesized to be either language selective or non‑selective. The selective account maintains that bilinguals can selectively activate one of their languages while keeping the other deactivated, whereas the non‑selective access hypothesis purports that both languages are automatically activated. These two major hypotheses are often tested experimentally with visual word recognition tasks. While many word recognition studies support the non‑selectivity account (de Groot, Delmaar, Lupker 2000; Dijkstra, Hilberink ...

 

Probabilistic models of human cognition have been widely successful at capturing the ways that people represent and reason with uncertain knowledge. In this talk I will explore the ways that this probabilistic approach can be applied to systematic and productive reasoning – in particular, natural language pragmatics and semantics. I will first describe how probabilistic programming languages provide a formal tool encompassing probabilistic uncertainty and compositional structure. I'll illustrate with a examples from inductive reasoning ...

 

Abstract: In this talk, I examine the distribution of grammatical gender in French nouns. In many cases, this distribution appears entirely arbitrary, but two potential avenues for systematicity of gender assignment have been observed: (1) conceptual properties of the referent, such as biological sex; and (2) phonological features of the nominal, such as word-final phoneme strings. However, neither of these pathways provide a crash-proof way to learn, encode, or employ gender. In light of these ...

 

Different talkers have different habitual speaking rates, and a given talker will produce a large variation in the rate at which they speak. Meaningful contrasts in speech are cued by duration, and changes in speaking rate alter the distribution of these cues.

Despite this constant restructuring of the relationship between acoustic cues and phonetic categories, listeners experience perceptual constancy, compensating for differences in speaking rate both between and within talkers. We use the identification of ...

 

Undergraduates Courtney Cooper and Roxy Jaffe are presenting posters, as final projects for Ling448, Advanced Laboratory Research in Linguistics. They have been working in the Project on Children's Language Learning, part of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, with Dr Jeffrey Lidz. The posters will be attended from 4 to 4:30, with time to socialize and mingle afterwards. All are invited.

 

It is an interesting curiosity that occasional can get an adverb-like reading in which it seems to scope outside its DP (Bolinger 1967, Stump 1981, Larson 1999, Zimmermann 2003, Schäfer 2007, DeVries 2010, Gehrke & McNally 2010):

(1) The occasional sailor strolled by. 'Occasionally, a sailor strolled by.'

This is the paradigm case of 'adverbial' or nonlocal readings of adjectives. What seems not to have attracted sufficient attention is that such nonlocal readings of adjectives have ...

 

Much current research in sentence processing investigates the question of how quickly, and how robustly, effects of preceding context can interact with the processing of incoming lexical items. While many effects of context are transient, observable only in brief priming effects and early ERP components, research has shown that in some cases context can have such a strong influence that we actually interpret words with meanings that they do not have. We see this in ...

 

Broadly construed, statistical learning involves finding predictive patterns based on experiences of property distributions. Psychologists have developed many competing accounts of this kind of induction from instances. Characterizing the phenomena in terms of statistical learning provides a framework for comparing, and hopefully unifying, across alternatives. I will discuss two varieties of statistical learning especially relevant to research on cognitive development. The first concerns learning discriminative versus generative models. Sometimes people learn very narrow, special-purpose relations ...

 

This is the last of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett, by distinguished psycholinguist Elissa Newport – Professor at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Director of its Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, and Principal Investigator within the Learning and Development Lab.

 

This is the second of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett, by distinguished psycholinguist Elissa Newport – Professor at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Director of its Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, and Principal Investigator within the Learning and Development Lab.

 

Distinguished psycholinguist Elissa Newport – Professor at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Director of its Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, and Principal Investigator within the Learning and Development Lab – will be giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

  • Lecture 1 (11/19, 3pm-5pm) Statistical language learning: From word segmentation to phrase structure

  • Lecture 2 (11/20, 3pm-5pm) Statistical learning from natural and unnatural linguistic input: Language learning and language change

  • Lecture ...

 

Recent literature has observed grammatical impacts the expression of causation has on the structure of the verbal predicate (Folli and Harley 05, Schäfer 12). I argue that causation also plays a crucial role in determining the availability of infinitival ECM in English, providing evidence that the expression of causation has syntactic repercussions (cf. Neeleman and van de Koot 12 for an opposing view).

 

Humans are an unusually prosocial species. We volunteer at food banks, recycle, vote, tithe, give blood, and go to war. We care about justice and fairness, and punish those that transgress against social norms. Although altruistic behavior is well-documented in other primates, the range of altruistic behaviors in other primate species, including the great apes, is much more limited than it is in humans. Moreover, when altruism does occur among other primates, it is typically ...

 

Abstract: Contrary to Chomsky's (1995) proposal on the generalized pied-piping, Ura (2001) proposes that it is constrained by an economy condition such that a formal feature cannot be pied-piped as a free rider if there is an intervening matching feature. Given the condition, when an object moves to a domain of CP across an intervening subject with phi-features, it cannot pied-pipe its phi-features to the landing site. Thus, with the condition, it is predicted ...

 

Agreement attraction (e.g., The key to the cabinets are …) has received much cross-language attention in language production, but little attention in language comprehension, with most evidence drawn from number attraction in English and Romance languages. A generalization which is common in these studies is that only marked (plural) number provokes attraction. Since number is not an inherent feature of a noun, a possible explanation of attraction effect is that during the structure building number ...

 

Children who are in the process of acquiring their mother tongue have to learn its words, its phonology, and its syntax. For each of these domains, knowledge in other domains would help. For instance, since syntactic structure spells out the relationships between words in a sentence, it is reasonable to assume that children need to have access to words and their meanings in order to learn about syntax. On the other hand, learning word meanings ...

 

Recent Event Related Potential (ERP) studies in sentence comprehension suggest that the predictability of a word in a sentence does not straightforwardly corresponds to its processing difficulty reflected by the N400 amplitude (e.g., Chow et al., submitted; Hoeks et al., 2003; Kim & Osterhout, 2005). For instance, the N400 to the verb in the hearty meal was devouring and in the hearty meal was devoured was shown to be nearly identical. In this talk, I ...

 

The thesis that the mental supervenes on the physical (that the mental could not have been other than as it is without the physical having been other than as it is) has been much discussed. I will be suggesting three reasons one might doubt that the issue has all the importance it has widely been taken to have. These will illustrate more general reasons for uneasiness about the status of modal metaphysics.

 

For optimal language acquisition and literacy development, input should not only be interesting, it should be compelling, so interesting that are not aware what language it is in, so interesting that that you are in a state of "flow": the concerns of everyday life and even your sense of self disappears - your sense of time is altered and nothing but message matters. Compelling input appears to eliminate the need for motivation, a conscious desire to ...

 

Theories of language processing confront the question of how formal properties of a grammar affect selection among competing syntactic analyses during incremental interpretation. In this talk, I will consider how relative clause (RC) placement affects processing of filler-gap dependencies in Chamorro, an Austronesian language of the Mariana Islands.

Chamorro is among a small set of languages in which relative clauses can both follow the modified noun phrase, as in (1a), or precede it, (1b). Chamorro ...

 

At this week’s lab meeting, we’ll be hearing from Dustin Chacón, who will be talking about “Resumptives: the pronouns that we maybe now understand them”. He’ll talk about background on parsing long distance dependencies and on the murky status of resumptive pronouns, and then he’ll summarize some experiments that he has recently carried out, plus new experiments that are in the planning stages.

 

Good decision-making requires the decision-maker to generate accurate expectations about what is likely to happen in the future. Adults' decisions, especially those pertaining to attention and learning, are guided by their substantial experience in the world. Very young children, however, possess far less data. In this talk, I will discuss work that explores the mechanisms that guide young children's early visual attention decisions and subsequent learning. I present eye-tracking experiments in both human and ...

 

We explore how preschoolers interpret the verbs want, think, and hope, and whether syntactic environment influences interpretation. Previous research suggests that children are influenced by reality when interpreting think but not want. However, these verbs have not been tested under the same conditions. We develop a new methodology for probing think and want. We also examine hope, which shares features with both verbs. We find that children are still adult-like with want but not think ...

 

This talk presents puzzles concerning the representation of features in the agreement system of the Eastern Algonquian language, Mi’gmaq. A growing body of research converges on the idea that phi-agreement should be separated into distinct person (π), number (#), and sometimes gender (Γ) probes (e.g. Anagnostopoulou 2003; Béjar & Rezac 2003; Laka 1993; Shlonsky 1989). This separation has led to a wide range of empirical converge, in everything from Mayan Agent Focus constructions to Basque ...

 

I will present some work suggesting that children selectively explore in ways that support information gain. That is, children recognize that information is valuable. However, information is also costly – and the costs themselves are informative. Across a series of studies, I will suggest that children's sensitivity to both the cost and value of information affects how they teach and learn from others – and also how they learn about others. I will discuss these findings ...

 

Abstract: Chinese Denominal verbs have undergone a diachronic shift from ad hoc usage and typological multiplicity in Classical Chinese to conventionalized usage and typological limitedness in Modern Chinese. While denominal verbs in Classical Chinese can be conveniently accommodated in a pragmatic account, those in Modern Chinese only yield to a syntactic account. The diachronic shift has resulted from syntactic intervention: only those denominal verbs that can possibly be derived in syntax have survived into Modern ...

 

On October 10th we'll have a double-header featuring Kate Harrigan, discussing her work on how children learn and understand very-hard-to-observe words, such as "want", "think", and "hope". Then Ellen Lau will talk about some of her recent work on ERPs and predictive processes ("Events vs. Entities with ERPs").

 

Interpreting sentences requires comprehenders to answer the basic question of who did what to whom. Previous research has shown that role assignment sometimes occurs early, even before a sentence is linguistically disambiguated from alternate constructions. In contrast, previous work has also shown that role assignment sometimes occurs late, even after linguistic disambiguation. Why do differences in the timing of role assignment occur? In this talk I report on a visual world eye-tracking study that addresses ...

 

The language(s) that we know shape the way we process and represent the speech that we hear. Since real-world speech recognition almost always takes place in conditions that involve some sort of background noise, we can ask whether the influence of linguistic knowledge and experience on speech processing extends to the particular challenges posed by speech-in-noise recognition, specifically the perceptual separation of speech from noise (Experiment Series 1) and the cognitive representation of speech ...

 

I put forth an event-based (nouns/adjectives are predicates of states) analysis of nominal/adjectival essentially plural predicates (e.g. friends, similar). I argue that they consist of phrasal distributivity plus “2-place” multiparticipant nouns/adjectives (cf. Schwarzchild 2011).

[This will be a poster at MACSIM.]

 

A fairly extensive body of research supports the idea that chunking a continuous speech stream into discrete phonemes involves identifying specific acoustic characteristics, lining them up with phonemic features to identify segments, and building up word representations which then trigger lexical access. However, quantity-sensitive phonological systems add a further dimension to this task: that of incorporating information about segment duration into the parsing process. In Swiss German, duration is the cue to a phonemic distinction ...

 

In this dissertation I present a model that captures categorical effects in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) speech perception. In L1 perception, categorical effects range between extremely strong for consonants to nearly continuous perception of vowels. By treating the problem of speech perception as a statistical inference problem, I obtain a unified model of both strong and weak categorical effects. In this optimal inference mechanism, the listener uses his knowledge of categories ...

 

The Psycholinguistics Lab Meetings are where 20-30 students and faculty spend Friday lunchtimes in lively arguments about ongoing research. At the annual kickoff meeting each person gives a brief summary of his/her interests and work. Ground rules: 1-slide only (points added or deducted for egregious interpretation of "one"), irreverence encouraged. Having missed a few weeks due to other events, we'll start with a double-length meeting. Email the slide to colin@umd.edu by ...

 

The standard framework of cognitive science – the computational-representational theory of mind (CRT) – has it that mental processes are the result of brains implementing computations that range over representations. These representations have standardly been thought of as intentional states – that is, states that have contents such that they are about or representations of particular things. For example, one standard interpretation of generative linguistics is that the mind performs computations over states that are representations of, inter ...

 

Background: It is commonly known that French has two grammatical gender classes: masculine and feminine. Crucially, every nominal in French is assigned gender, but the mechanism by which assignment occurs differs across nominal categories (Corbett, 1991). This leads to a distinction between semantically interpretable and uninterpretable sub-genders. The interpretable sub-gender (represented by upper-case “M” and “F”) is assigned to nominals with a target referent that possesses a salient and relevant biological sex property. This sub-gender ...

 

Annual event that brings together language science faculty and students from across the University of Maryland. Includes lunch, presentations, poster session, and evening party.

 

Some current evolutionary theories of morality hold that the adaptations that underlie moral judgment and behavior function to deliver benefits (or prevent harm) to others. I’ll discuss several lines of research built around an alternative view. In particular, I’ll present evidence for the view that people adopt moral positions based on calculations of their self-interest. First, in an experimental study, subjects are presented with an economic decision making game and asked to evaluate ...

 

PHLING

Meeting

 

Since the late 1950s we have known that the perception of speech is categorical. That is, listeners' perception of speech categories varies non-linearly in response to continuous changes in relevant acoustical quantities. Although there has been a large amount of research investigating this phenomena over the last half century, very little is known about how this perceptual behaviour is represented neurologically. One hypothesis is that this nonlinearity is represented directly as a place-code in auditory ...

 

On standard accounts of modal expressions, sentences like (1) and (2) have been taken to express the same propositions, (2) making explicit the epistemic nature of the modality left implicit by (1).

(1) Jones might be dead.
(2) For all we know, Jones might be dead.

A problem for such accounts, however, is the fact that (1) and (2) do not support the same counterfactual continuations. (3), for example, is an acceptable follow-up to (2 ...

 

Since Frege 1879, the history of semantics identifies the meanings of natural language expressions with the mind external things they denote, be they pedestrian objects (e.g., cows and chairs), less pedestrian objects (e.g. mereological sums), or abstracta (e.g., sets of possible worlds). For the Quinean Realist, a language with such a semantics is fruitful for ontological investigation, insofar as analyzing the denotational meanings of (the constituents of) sentences in that language reveals ...

 

Most people associate Sigmund Freud with the assertion that speech errors reveal repressed thoughts, a claim that does not have a great deal of support. I will introduce some other things that Freud said about slips, showing that these, in contrast to the repression notion, do fit well with modern theories of language production. I will illustrate using an interactive two-step theory of lexical access during production, which has been used to understand aphasic speech ...

 

Students in the Language Science community: please join us for a town hall meeting to kick off the language science lunch talks for the semester and enjoy a free lunch with your colleagues!

 

Human beings’ capacity for cooperation vastly outstrips that of other great apes. The shared intentionality hypothesis explains this difference in terms of motivational and representational discontinuities, particularly the capacity to represent joint goals. In this paper, I first present an argument as to why we should reject the shared intentionality hypothesis’ hyper-competitive characterization of chimpanzees’ social cognitive abilities, and provide reasons to be skeptical of the generalizability of experimental findings from captive chimpanzees. Next, I ...

 

Acquisition of syntax and semantics (and occasionally phonology) lab meetings. Each week we discuss ongoing research in the lab, dealing with issues all levels of the research process. The lab meeting doubles as an activity for undergraduate students in Ling248/448, an undergraduate lab research course for students working in language acquisition.

 

PHLING

Meeting

Topic TBA

 

Abstract: This dissertation explores the developmental trajectory of Principle C effects in young children’s interpretations as a means to identify the underlying knowledge driving interpretation in these contexts. While previous research has shown that children show a restriction on interpretation in Principle C contexts as young as 30 months (Lukyanenko, Conroy & Lidz, 2014), the task remains to show that this behavior is attributable to knowledge of Principle C. I discuss a series of alternative ...

 

The 6th North American Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (NASSLLI 2014) will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park, June 21-27, 2014.

Targeted at graduate and advanced undergraduate students, this biennial summer school features top international faculty in linguistics, philosophy, cognitive and computing sciences teaching a dozen-and-a-half intensive 5-day courses, as well as three preparatory 2-day courses in logic, syntax and semantics. In addition, there are 4 one-hour sessions of student ...

 

Commencement

Meeting

 

This thesis attempts to assimilate head movement as far as possible to phrasal movement and deduce stipulated differences between them from general principles that regulate syntactic operations. In particular, I argue (i) that a distributional difference between these two types of movement can be explained by the interaction between a locality constraint and an anti-locality constraint to which syntactic movement operations are subject and (ii) that UG allows head-movement via substitution as well as head ...

 

In this presentation, I present a new theory of the relationship between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and adjectival scale structure set within the Delineation semantics framework (Kamp, 1975; Klein, 1980, among others). From an empirical point of view, I argue that the four principle subclasses of adjectival predicates (relative adjectives (ex. tall), total absolute adjectives (ex. dry), partial absolute adjectives (ex. wet), and non-scalar adjectives (ex. atomic)) can be distinguished along three dimensions: 1) how their criteria ...

 

I will present recent work on a computational model of the perceptual magnet effect, describing how knowledge of a language's phonetic categories can influence people's low-level perceptual discrimination. I discuss how computers may represent speech to support human-like 'perception', and potential human behavioral experiments.

 

How can we study the biological evolution of the human capacity for music? Over the past century, theories of music’s origins have abounded, with little data to constrain them. One prominent debate has centered on the issue of adaptation: were human bodies and brains specifically shaped for musical behaviors by natural selection, or did music (like reading and writing) arise as a human creation without impetus from biology? This debate has gone on since ...

 

When speaking, we somehow manage to (mostly) accurately encode potentially distant linguistic relations with limited working memory resources. On one hand, accurate encoding of linguistic relations between multiple words suggests parallel processing of those words, and hence suggests a non-trivial ‘look-ahead’ mechanism. On the other hand, relatively severe limitation of working memory capacity (along with conversational time-pressure) suggests serial, largely word-by-word sentence production that demotes the look-ahead mechanism to an auxiliary function. In this talk ...

 

Scott Weems, adjunct research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), is receiving rave reviews for his new book, Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why. Weems, a cognitive neuroscientist, investigates the science of humor and what happens in our brains when we laugh. He argues that humor is the result of a cerebral conflict and comes from a deeper desire to understand the world.

Ha! covers ...

 

For this year’s Mayfest, we will be taking a somewhat different approach to years past. This year, the University of Maryland, College Park, officially joined the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) as a part of its broader integration with the Big Ten. Nearly every member institution offers a department or program in linguistics, representing a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, and CIC schools’ programs in speech-language pathology and other communicative disorders are ...

 

Rats are expert at navigating the world in the dark using their sense of touch. They rhythmically brush and tap about 60 large vibrissae (whiskers) against objects to determine object size, shape, orientation, and texture. Whiskers have no sensors along their length; instead, all mechanosensory information is transmitted to sensors located only at the base of each whisker. Imagine, now, that we could quantify the head movements of the rat, as well as the mechanical ...

 

For this year’s Mayfest, we will be taking a somewhat different approach to years past. This year, the University of Maryland, College Park, officially joined the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) as a part of its broader integration with the Big Ten. Nearly every member institution offers a department or program in linguistics, representing a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, and CIC schools’ programs in speech-language pathology and other communicative disorders are ...

 

Friday, May 2: 9:00am-5:00pm
Saturday, May 3: 10:00am-5:00pm

For this year’s Mayfest, we will be taking a somewhat different approach to years past. This year, the University of Maryland, College Park, officially joined the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) as a part of its broader integration with the Big Ten. Nearly every member institution offers a department or program in linguistics, representing a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches ...

 

When we think about our past, many of the events that come to mind are those that triggered an emotional response. This retrieval of a memory requires a series of processes to unfold: Information must be attended and encoded into memory, resist decay and interference over time, and be reactivated when the appropriate retrieval cue is processed. In this talk, I will discuss how the arousal (physiological response or feeling of excitation) and valence (pleasure ...

 

[LSLT]

Lunch Talk

 

The aim of this talk to offer a formal understanding of common law reasoning – especially the nature of this reasoning, but also its point, or justification, in terms of social coordination. I will present two, possibly three, formal models of the common law, and argue for one according to which courts, are best thought of, not as creating and modifying rules, but as generating a priority ordering on reasons. The talk is not technical, although ...

 

In this talk I will present two fMRI experiments aimed at understanding the neural instantiation of syntactic operations. Experiment 1 addresses the leading hypotheses of the neural localization of syntactic operations in Broca's area by the use of a distance manipulation in backward anaphora (cataphora). Previous research had demonstrated a distance effect (increased activation for increased distance) between filler and gap in movement constructions in the anterior portion of Broca's area, but not ...

 

Even the most cursory observation of the world’s languages reveals a fairly robust correlation between structural cases and agreement. Thus, it is very often the case that subject agreement targets noun phrases that surface as nominative, and object agreement targets noun phrases that surface as accusative. And note: the existence of non-nominative subjects and non-accusative objects demonstrates that this is not merely a terminological truism. Let us refer to this interdependence of case and ...

 
 

Contemporary epistemology offers us two very different accounts of our epistemic lives. According to Traditional epistemologists, the decisions that we make are motivated by our desires and guided by our beliefs and these beliefs and desires all come in an all-or-nothing form. In contrast, many Bayesian epistemologists say that these beliefs and desires come in degrees and that they should be understood as subjective probabilities and utilities.

What are we to make of these different ...

 

The ECO-5 Workshop brings together graduate student presenters representing the East Coast Organization of 5 prestigious linguistics departments: UConn, UMass, Harvard, MIT, and UMD. This workshop specializes in syntax but appeals to a broad range of linguists. The hosting of the conference rotates between the 5 universities and we are proud to host the 2014 meeting here at the University of Maryland! The workshop starts at 10am and ends at 5:30pm, followed by dinner.

 

Research in my lab seeks to understand how language production and comprehension are shaped by the competing pressures inherent to communication, and how this in turn affects the development of language over generations. The talk is divided into two parts. The first part presents a quick overview of some of our research on language production. This work investigates whether the systems underlying language production are organized so as to balance the demands inherent to production ...

 

When people talk, they gesture. We now know that these gestures are associated with learning. They can index moments of cognitive instability and reflect thoughts not yet found in speech. What I hope to do in this talk is raise the possibility that gesture might do more than just reflect learning – it might be involved in the learning process itself. I consider two non-mutually exclusive possibilities: the gestures that we see others produce might be ...

 

Unraveling the Biology of Auditory Learning in Humans

Nina Kraus Hugh Knowles Professor Communication Sciences; Neurobiology & Physiology; Otolaryngology Northwestern University

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 Building 49 (This has changed from what was previously announced.)

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Hosted by Carmen Brewer

Email Linda De Iberri (deiberril@nidcd.nih.gov) for more information.

 

The production of vocalizations in birds is intimately linked to the respiratory system. Despite our understanding of neural circuits that generate normal respiratory patterns, very little is understood regarding how these circuits become engaged during vocal production. Songbirds offer a potentially powerful model system for addressing this relationship. Songs dramatically alter the respiratory pattern in ways that are often highly predictable and songbirds have a specialized vocal motor circuit that provides massive innervation to a ...

 

Linguistic norms emerge in human communities because people imitate each other. A shared linguistic system allows people to enjoy the benefits of shared knowledge and coordinated planning. Once norms are in place, why would they ever change? This question, echoing broad questions in the theory of social dynamics, has particular force in relation to language. By definition, an innovator is in the minority when the innovation first occurs. In some areas of social dynamics, important ...

 
 

How do humans come to have a “moral sense”? Are adults’ conceptions of which actions are right and which are wrong, of who is good and who is bad, who deserves praise and who deserves blame wholly the result of experiences like observing and interacting with others in one’s cultural environment and explicit teaching from parents, teachers, and religious leaders? Do all of the complexities in adult’s moral judgments reflect hard-won developmental change ...

 

A number of seminal figures in the history of probability, including Keynes, de Finetti, Savage, and others, held that comparative probability judgments - as expressed, e.g., by statements of the form 'E is more likely than F' - might be, in one way or another, more fundamental than quantitative probabilistic judgments. Such comparative judgments have mostly been studied in relation to quantitative notions, viz. representation theorem. After briefly discussing how this older work on representation theorems ...

 

For each of the next three Wednesday's, Bob Berwick will be leading Norbert and Howard's class.

 

(in collaboration with Arhonto Terzi) Hyper-raising (HR) is an instance of long NP movement out of a finite clause to an A position. As a result, the ungrammaticality of sentences such as (1) is expected on various grounds (Lasnik & Boeckx 2006).
(1) *John1 seems [that t1 is a good cook] Yet, HR has been reported as grammatical in some languages, due to various reasons (availability of multiple specifiers (Ura 1994), valued gender of nouns and ...

 

The hippocampus is crucial for the formation of new long term memories of facts and events in humans as well as for spatial learning and memory in rodents. Extracellular recordings from the rodent hippocampus have revealed that a map consisting of neurons called place cells - each with spatially-tuned spiking - rapidly appears whenever the animal explores a new environment. Furthermore, more than half of all neurons that are of the same type as place cells, e ...

 

The current dissertation project examines how orthographic experiences influence the way children retrieve and encode phonological information during spoken word production. Spoken word production involves the operation of a series of cognitive mechanisms. Speakers start from message or concept encoding (e.g., identify an object in a picture), then select the corresponding lexical item, proceed to the lexeme level, retrieve and encode the phonological information, and finally articulate the sounds (Ferreira, 2010). How do speakers ...

 

For each of the next five Wednesday's, Bob Berwick will be leading Norbert and Howard's class.

 

For second language (L2) learners of Mandarin, mastery of lexical tones is a particularly salient challenge and many learners expend a great deal of effort trying to gain control of tones both receptively and in production. To date, little is understood about how successful they are at this task, especially in regards to the types of problems that persist for more advanced learners. At the same time, as a practical matter, it is unclear how ...

 

To acquire the meanings of attitude verbs like know and think, a child must marshall many linguistic and extralinguistic abilities, including an understanding of (i) the relevant concepts, (ii) the relationship between a verb's meaning and the syntactic frames it appears in, (iii) how verbs are used in context, and (iv) speakers' intentions. Past research on the acquisition of think and know, in particular, has suggested that children do not have an adult-like understanding ...

 

Within minimalist approaches to syntax, it is often assumed that operations occur only to satisfy interface conditions – legibility requirements imposed by the morphophonological and semantic interfaces on the output of the syntactic derivation (see Chomsky 1995; and in particular, Chomsky's 2000, 2001 'interpretability'-based system). In this talk, I present an argument against this view, based on agreement in the Agent-Focus construction of the Kichean languages (Mayan). I show that the obligatoriness of agreement ...

 

To make reward-guided decisions we must form predictions about future reward, generate action plans, and update behavior when reward predictions are violated. I will present neural correlates of these functions in rats deciding between two rewarding options. In these studies value was manipulated by varying reward size and delay to reward (i.e., time-discounting). I will describe data demonstrating that single unit firing of neurons in orbitofrontal cortex reflects reward predictions, whereas firing of midbrain ...

 

Humans use punishment and reward to modify each others' behavior, and we also learn from others' rewards and punishments. This simple dynamic animates much of our moral psychology, and I explore two of its consequences in detail. First, human punishment should be adapted to the contours and constraints of human learning. This can explain a peculiar feature of our moral judgments that philosophers call "moral luck": The fact that accidental outcomes play a large role ...

 

Theories of phonetic category learning can generally be divided into two camps: rule-based and exemplar-based theories. My previous research has indicated that English speakers trained to learn a phonetic continuum taken from German fricatives violated some of the key predictions of exemplar-based theories. One particularly interesting finding was that listeners tended to find learning discontinuous categories very challenging, sometimes stubbornly responding that each part of the discontinuous category in question was a separate category. Some ...

 

In this talk, I examine the syntax of long-distance movement in Dinka (Nilotic; South Sudan), a language in which A’-movement triggers a number of morphosyntactic changes in the left periphery of the clause. I first show that these facts provide multiple sources of evidence for successive-cyclic derivations, with stop-off sites both at the edge of each vP/VP and of each CP (Chomsky 1986 et seq.). I then argue that Dinka offers insight into ...

 

ABSTRACT: Cooperative behaviors require precise coordination of learned movements between individuals. To achieve these performances, brain circuits in each participant integrates information from at least two sources, feedback from the animals own behavior and information from the partner. How the brain represents these categories of information for the production of cooperative behaviors is currently not known in any species. In order to understand how the nervous system controls a cooperative behavior, we characterized both ...

 

Chuchu Li · [LSLT]

Lunch Talk

 

John Baugh is Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences and former Director of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his tenure at Washington University, Dr. Baugh taught at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Swarthmore College. Dr. Baugh has published award-winning books in the fields of Anthropology, Education, Legal Affairs, Linguistics, Sociology and Urban Studies. His work bridges theoretical and applied linguistics, with particular ...

 

Abstract: Phi features are crucial for syntax and morphology, and number and person accordingly have been the focus of a significant amount of research. However, gender has received less theoretical attention, with the result that critical questions concerning its syntactic representation and morphological realization remain open (Is there a GenderP? Are gender features interpretable? How are the gender features found in the syntax spelled out?). In this talk, I present the results of an ongoing ...

 

Most research on children’s syntactic development has focused on commonalities among children rather than individual differences between children. Yet, recent studies have shown differences in syntactic development between children from higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. These studies have demonstrated that SES differences in the complexity of input at home and school contribute to the variability in syntactic development. In this talk, I discuss three potential mechanisms that may help account for why ...

 

To what extent is human cognition augmented by language? Does language only enhance communication, with words acting as triggers for nonlinguistic concepts? Or does language play an active role in the very ability to construct and manipulate those concepts? I will present a series of experiments showing that language has pervasive and surprising effects on a range of cognitive abilities, such as learning new categories, deploying knowledge about familiar categories, and even basic perception: Hearing ...

 

I will argue that it is not possible to state Condition B as a purely formal constraint on syntactic structures. I present two arguments to this effect. The first exploits the fact that Condition B blocks “intersecting” reference as well as coreference. The second stems from a problem noted by Higginbotham (1983) and Partee and Bach (1984): there are many formally-distinct patterns of binding dependencies which encode the same interpretation. As Heim (1998) notes, there ...

 

Decades of heavy investment in laboratory-based brain imaging and neuroscience have led to foundational insights into how humans sense, perceive, and interact with the external world. However, it is argued that fundamental differences between laboratory-based and naturalistic human behavior may exist. Thus, it remains unclear how well the current knowledge of human brain function translates into the highly dynamic real world. While some demonstrated successes in real-world neurotechnologies are observed, particularly in the area of ...

 

PHLINC is a biennial conference on topics at the intersection of linguistics, philosophy, and neighboring disciplines, organized by PHLING, a research group of students and faculty from the departments of linguistics and philosophy at the University of Maryland. The topic of PHLINC2: Language and Other Minds is attitudes and attitude ascriptions, with a special emphasis on knowledge ascriptions and related phenomena such as presupposition, factivity, and evidentiality. The conference will feature eight 30 minute presentations ...

 

Most people associate Sigmund Freud with the assertion that speech errors reveal repressed thoughts, a claim that does not have a great deal of support. I will introduce some other things that Freud said about slips, showing that these, in contrast to the repression notion, do fit well with modern theories of language production. I will illustrate using an interactive two-step theory of lexical access during production, which has been used to understand aphasic speech ...

 

Most research on children’s syntactic development has focused on commonalities among children rather than individual differences between children. Yet, recent studies have shown differences in syntactic development between children from higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. These studies have demonstrated that SES differences in the complexity of input at home and school contribute to the variability in syntactic development. In this talk, I discuss three potential mechanisms that may help account for why ...

 

In this talk, I present two empirical puzzles that involve intriguing interactions between aspect and agreement in Neo-Aramaic languages, and argue that the solutions to these puzzles inform basic clausal architecture. Specifically, I contribute to two big picture questions: (i) which functional heads can Agree/assign Case?; and (ii) what functional projections make up the clausal spine?

The first puzzle I address is the various aspect-based agreement splits seen across Northeastern Neo-Aramaic: the form and ...

 

ABSTRACT : An exciting facet of language is its link to music: musical and rhythmic ability track with language ability and music training can improve reading skills. A shared link between reading and music is reliance on biological processing of sound. It is essential to learning how to read, forming sound-to-meaning connections is a fundamental building block. And sound processing, by many definitions, is enhanced in musicians. Compelling research in the past decade or so has ...

 

While there are opposing views about the mental representation of regular and irregular past tense verbs, numerous sources of evidence point to the greater complexity of irregular verbs (longer reaction times, later acquisition, regularization errors). This talk will focus on two aspects of complexity. First, it has been proposed, especially in dual mechanism accounts, that generation of irregular past requires blocking of the default regular –ed affix. Second, some lexical entries may include more than ...

 

The passive is one of the most thoroughly examined constructions in the world’s languages, across different theoretical and typological perspectives; yet there is often disagreement about category membership, particularly for constructions sometimes called “non-promotional” passives, which have no overt subject but govern an accusative object. In this talk I will discuss a new impersonal construction which has arisen in Icelandic in recent decades and which is gaining ground. Data has been collected in two ...

 
 

Domain-general cognitive systems are consistently observed to support successful language processing, especially in challenging conditions (e.g., at low signal-to-noise ratios). In particular, I will present my research investigating the impact of attentional demands on speech recognition by quantifying changes in neural and physiological targets of the autonomic arousal system. I will also discuss how these metrics may be used to evaluate training-related benefits in performance, cognitive effort, and attentional control.

 

Human infants learn spontaneously and effortlessly the language(s) spoken in their environments, but we still have a very poor understanding of the mechanisms underlying this feat. Here, I will present an approach based on the computational modeling of the problem faced by infants. The problem presents itself as the simultaneous, unsupervized, and mutually constraining discovery of linguistic structures at many levels. I will illustrate the notion of learning synergies through several studies on the ...

 

There is a substantial literature describing how, over the course of development, infants become more sensitive to differences between native phonemes (sounds that are both present and meaningful in the native language) and less sensitive to differences between non-native phonemes (sounds that are neither present nor meaningful in the input). A more difficult problem is what to do with allophonic contrasts, dimensions that vary in the input but are not recruited for lexical encoding. For ...

 

The vast majority of verbs occur in more than one syntactic context. For example, the verb "know" can occur with both "that"-clauses – as in "John knows that Mary went to the store" – "whether" questions – as in "John knows whether Mary went to the store" – or noun phrases – as in "John knows Mary".

The syntactic contexts a verb can show up in correlates with its meaning (Landau & Gleitman, 1985; Fisher, Gleitman & Gleitman 1991; Lederer Gleitman ...

 

Readers and listeners assign interpretations to text and speech moment-by-moment as they perceive new input, rather than waiting until sentences unfold entirely to discern who is doing what to whom. Although efficient, processing language ‘on-the-fly’ can be costly: early interpretations sometimes turn out wrong when late-arriving input conflicts with one’s developing analysis. I will discuss how cognitive control—the ability to regulate thoughts and actions when confronted with information-conflict—is central to people’s ...

 

Adult language acquisition is famously more variable and typically much less successful than child language acquisition. This means that some individuals experience much better success as language learners than others. To what extent can this variability be explained by individual differences in cognitive abilities? Furthermore, if the relevant cognitive abilities are known for a learner, can something be done to improve their learning outcomes? This talk discusses several threads of research at CASL investigating aptitude ...

 

In this paper I will propose to revisit and connect the work I did with Benjamin Spector on the interaction of attitude verbs and their lexical semantics with embedded questions (Spector and Egré 2007, 2014) with some of my earlier work on the question-selection behavior of attitude verbs (Egré 2008). One assumption Spector and I are making is that a question denotes some potential complete answer to a question, though not necessarily the actual complete ...

 

Research over the last two decades has established that human infants, children and adults are highly sensitive to the statistical structure of their environments, including many layers of language structure. However, the mechanics of how statistical learning operates and develops are still unclear. I will discuss three studies that each aim to get “under the hood” of early statistical language learning to better understand how infants collect and process distributional information. Each of these studies ...

 

Brainstem responses to clicks and tone bursts in infants have been well-documented; however, there is limited information regarding the brainstem response to speech in the first year of life. Although robust representation of the fundamental frequency in the frequency following response (FFR) has been recorded in infants, the development of other aspects of the FFR, such as timing and timbre, has not yet been examined. We evaluated brainstem responses to a speech syllable in 25 ...

 

Variability in speech particularly as a consequence of production rate is still a great challenge in the development of automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems that can perform well with minimal constraints. Articulatory Phonology (AP) provides a unified framework for understanding the resulting acoustic consequences of changes in speech production due to gestural overlap and gestural reduction that are often reported as assimilations, insertions, deletions and substitutions. In this talk, I will discuss the progress we ...

 

The successes and failures of rapid language understanding provide valuable clues to how we mentally encode sentence representations, and how we navigate those representations in short-term memory. The real-time implementation of grammatical constraints has proven to be an effective tool for understanding these mechanisms, especially due to the profile of "selective fallibility". Some grammatical constraints are faithfully and reliably implemented in real time, others are not, giving rise to “linguistic illusions". This uneven profile provides ...

 

Winter Storm, one of the signature activities of the language science community at the University of Maryland, will take place January 13–24, 2014.

Winter Storm is an intensive workshop that meets all day, every day for 2 weeks in late January, immediately preceding the Spring semester. It is open to all students and faculty interested in the study of language and it brings together researchers from many different areas of language science for training ...

 

Practice talk for the LSA.

Short abstract: Grammatical illusions have provided valuable insights into how speakers encode and navigate linguistic representations. A parade case involves illusory negative polarity item (NPI) licensing, where comprehenders temporarily accept sentences with an illicit NPI on-line, but judge those same sentences as unacceptable off-line. We show that the illusion is highly selective, and that the position of the NPI strongly modulates susceptibility to the illusion. These results are not predicted ...

 

An intentional-historical formalist definition of poetry such as the one offered in Ribeiro (2007) inevitably raises the question of how poetry first emerged, and why. On this view, repetitive linguistic patterning is seen as a historically central feature of poems, and one that has both an aesthetic and a cognitive dimension. Combining the Darwinian idea of a musical protolanguage with analyses of ‘babytalk’, I suggest that this central feature of poetic practices first emerged as ...

 

How do genes and experience interact to produce human cognition? I will discuss insights into this puzzle from studies of blindness. The first half of the talk will focus on how first-person sensory experience contributes to concepts. What do congenitally blind people know about seeing and light? One source of evidence comes from studies of “visual” verbs. Congenitally blind and sighted people made semantic similarity judgments on pairs of visual verbs (e.g. to glimpse ...

 

Unlike native speech perception, which is robust, automatic and efficient even in sub-optimal conditions, second-language (L2) speech perception is notoriously problematic even for highly proficient and experienced L2 listeners. L2 sounds that are phonologically contrastive in the L2 but not in the L1 are often miscategorized and misconstrued by L2 listeners, which renders spoken word comprehension difficult. In this talk, I discuss acquisition and processing of consonantal hardness/softness in L2 Russian by L1 English ...

 

Alek will lead a discussion of Paul's "Concepts, Meanings and Truth: First Nature, Second Nature and Hard Work"

 

Many of the inferences we draw in our day-to-day reasoning are defeasible—their conclusions can be withdrawn in the light of new evidence. This inferential property, known as non-monotonicity, requires the development of non-standard logics to model our reasoning practices, for, in standard logic, the conclusions drawn from a premise set are never withdrawn when new premises are added to that set. Non-standard logics, however, face a unique challenge. Defeasible inferences have varying strengths and ...

 

What do we mean when we talk about the meanings of words? What should linguists mean? The dominant view in natural language semantics is that a good account of the meanings of words will be a specification of their (compositionally-determined) truth conditions. I argue that, even if words have truth conditions, this is not yet the right characterization of meaning from the perspective of human psychology. Hilary Putnam famously argued that the truth-conditional approach to ...

 

The term "bootstrapping" appears frequently in the literature on child language acquisition, but is often defined vaguely (if at all) and can mean different things to different people. In this talk, I define bootstrapping as the use of structured correspondences between different levels of linguistic structure as a way to aid learning, and discuss how probabilistic models can be used to investigate the nature of these correspondences and how they might help the child learner ...

 

Attention allows us to select the most important information at each moment in time and to enhance and differentially process that information while ignoring other, irrelevant information. This capacity is essential to nearly all cognitive processes. But, how does attention work at the level of cells and circuits? We are addressing this question by studying circuits that contribute to spatial attention in birds. We have identified a midbrain network that includes structurally specialized cholinergic, GABAergic ...

 

In order for a bilingual to speak, s/he must select lexical items from the intended language while inhibiting representations from the non-target language. The field has yet to settle upon whether this selection is language-specific (e.g. Costa and Caramazza, 1999) or requires domain general inhibitory control (e.g. Green, 1998). Switching between languages incurs a “switch cost” (e.g., Meuter & Allport, 1999), suggesting lexical selection from the new language requires additional resources. Indirect ...

 

Jeffrey will lead a discussion of Berit Brogaard's "Attitude Reports: Do You Mind the Gap?"

 

Lesioning and gene expression studies have implicated the insect mushroom bodies as centers for olfactory processing and associative learning and memory mediated by a cAMP signaling pathway. However, several lines of evidence suggest that the primary role of the mushroom bodies may be a more general computation applicable to functions outside of olfaction and associative learning. First, comparative studies have described intrinsic circuitry, inputs and outputs that are not compatible with the concept of the ...

 

On standard accounts, comparatives like those in (1) all represent measurement of the same thing: coffee. How measurement proceeds is determined in (1a) by the meaning of "much", in (1b) by the meaning of "hot", and in (1c) by the meaning of "many". The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for the comparatives in (2), where running events are measured. This accords with intuition.

(1a) Al has as much coffee as Bill does.

(1b) Al has as ...

 

Distinguished neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene, Professor at the College de France, chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology, and Director of the INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, will be giving a series of three lectures, generously supported by Dave Baggett.

  • Lecture 1 (11/13, 3pm-6pm) Reading: How literacy changes our brain The acquisition of literacy literally transforms the brain. In this lecture, I will describe recent experiments in which my colleagues and I scanned literate and illiterates adults and ...

 

Models of category perception can generally be broken into two different types. Under rule-based models, categories are the result of a list of rules along the lines of a checklist. Under exemplar-based models, meanwhile, categories are the sum total of the experiences with the members of a certain category. In this study, listeners heard phonetic tokens on a continuum of palatal to velar fricatives, which were paired with one of either two or three categories ...

 

In this talk I will look at the following paradigm:

  1. Mary read some book or other that was on the reading list.
  2. Mary read whatever/whichever book was on the reading list.
  3. Mary read any book that was on the reading list.

All of the above involve some kind of epistemic uncertainty on the part of the speaker, as shown by the unacceptability of a follow up like It was ‘My Own Country’ (and…). They ...

 

The study of cognitive development has often been framed in terms of the nativist/empiricist debate. Here I present a new approach to cognitive development – rational constructivism. I will argue that learners take into account both prior knowledge and biases (learned or unlearned) as well as statistical information in the input; prior knowledge and statistical information are combined in a rational manner (as is often captured in Bayesian models of cognition). Furthermore, there may be ...

 

Most computer scientists would say that computational linguistics underwent something of a revolution in the early 1990's, due to the development and subsequent popularization of statistical approaches to problem-solving. These approaches, embraced wholeheartedly by computer scientists, notoriously eschew traditional linguistic characterization, in favor of predictive performance. This trend is a microcosm of a larger trend in science, though it can be argued that natural language processing is the best example of this.

Machine translation ...

 

Rachel will be leading a discussion of Dayal and Grimshaw's "Subordination at the Interface: the Quasi-Subordination Hypothesis"

 
 

Our optical and physiological studies of zebrafish reveal that the motor circuits in hindbrain and spinal cord are constructed via an orderly ground plan. Early in life, columns of neurons with similar structure and transcription factor phenotype are arranged by age. Neurons vary systematically in their functional properties and behavioral roles along each age ordered column. Those that differentiate first engage in stronger, faster movements with increasingly younger ones engaged in successively slower and weaker ...

 

Models of category perception can generally be broken into two different types. Under rule-based models, categories are the result of a list of rules along the lines of a checklist. Under exemplar-based models, meanwhile, categories are the sum total of the experiences with the members of a certain category. In this study, listeners heard phonetic tokens on a continuum of palatal to velar fricatives, which were paired with one of either two or three categories ...

 

Anticipating the featural content and the time point of a particular sensory event ('what happens when?') is beneficial for processing. Current frameworks of brain functions espouse the notion of prediction and prediction error and suggest minimally redundant representations. Linguistic theory, particularly within Generative Phonology, has also stressed the advantage of abstract (underspecified) representations, but hitherto, the two concepts exist relatively independent from each other.

In this talk, I try to bridge the views from Neuropsychology ...

 

For some initial set of words in a child’s lexicon, acquiring word meanings must be accomplished via observation of the co-occurring referent world (i.e., map ‘dog’ onto the visually present referent of a dog, and infer the meaning DOG). However, all naturally-occurring referential scenes are rich, complex, and thus highly ambiguous: there are usually many possible referents present and always many possible meanings to infer from a referent. One currently popular explanation for ...

 
 

According to a prominent theory (Gleitman 1990, Fisher et al 2010), children’s hypotheses about verb meanings are guided by Participant-to-Argument-Matching (PAM): the argument NPs in a sentence match the ‘participants’ implied by the construal of a scene one-to-one. We test PAM through a series of experiments examining nonlinguistic event construals. Exp.1 replicates Gordon’s (2003) finding that prelinguistic infants distinguish whether an entity is a participant or bystander in giving and hugging scenes ...

 

Neuroimaging workshop, more info here http://www.mnc.umd.edu/events/retreat2013 and here http://www.mnc.umd.edu/events/retreat2013.

Register (free) here: http://www.mnc.umd.edu/mnc-retreat-registration

 

Children and adults are often motivated to explain the world around them and have strong intuitions about what makes something a good (or beautiful) explanation. Why are we so driven to explain, and what accounts for our explanatory preferences? In this talk I’ll present evidence that both children and adults prefer explanations that are simple and have broad scope, consistent with many accounts of explanation from philosophy of science. The good news is that ...

 

Christopher will be leading a discussion of "Singular Thoughts and Singular Propositions" by Armstrong and Stanley.

 

We'll discuss Stan Dehaene's recent work on the interaction between math and language, and in particular a recent fMRI/MEG paper (Maruyama et al., 2012, Neuroimage), which looks for overlap between math and language areas with a constituent structure paradigm.

 

Perception arises from the successful communication between a "transmitter" (e.g., sensory end organs such as the retina or cochlea) and a "receiver" (e.g., the brain). As with any communication system, disordered perception can reflect a breakdown of the transmitter, the receiver, or some combination of the two. However, contemporary approaches to understand the biological basis of hearing loss (as well as hearing restoration) are almost entirely focused on the status of the peripheral ...

 

Null subjects in indicative clauses in Brazilian Portuguese display all the diagnostics of obligatorily controlled PRO. Based on Hornstein (2001), Ferreira (2000, 2004) and Rodrigues (2002, 2004) analyze those instances of null subject as traces (deleted copies) of A-movement, i. e. finite control structures. In this paper we show that there are two types of subjunctive clauses in this language: one that does and one that doesn't allow finite control. I further show that ...

 

The speech perception abilities of adults exhibit a curious property. On the one hand, it is well known that the acquisition of certain non-native phonetic contrasts is very difficult for adults, suggesting that mature phonetic category representations are somewhat inflexible. On the other hand, listeners appear to be able to adjust to acoustic variability in their own language. These sources of variability are substantial: slips of the tongue produce imperfect or ambiguous speech tokens, environmental ...

 

The profession of Audiology owes its origins and much of its early development to the Army Audiology and Speech Center (AASC), Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Because weapons of war are inherently noisy, hearing loss has always been a significant health problem within the Army. Efforts to treat hearing loss within the Army date from World War I. In between World War I and World War II wearable electronic hearing aids were introduced commercially, and ...

 

Statistical learning is the process of identifying patterns of probabilistic co-occurrence among stimulus features, essential to our ability to perceive the world as predictable and stable. Research on auditory statistical learning has revealed that infants use statistical properties of linguistic input to discover structure, including sound patterns, words, and the beginnings of grammar, that may facilitate language acquisition. Previous research on visual statistical learning revealed abilities to discriminate probabilities in visual patterns, leading to claims ...

 

Although there is substantive evidence of implicit learning of form-to-form mappings in cognitive psychology, laboratory-based studies in the field of second language acquisition examining the existence, possibility and effectiveness of adult implicit L2 learning have been inconclusive (Williams, 2005; Leung & Williams, 2006, 2010, 2011; Rebuschat & Williams, 2009, 2012; N. Ellis, 2002; Long, to appear; DeKeyser, 1994, 1995; Robinson, 1996; de Graaff, 1997; Hama & Leow, 2010).

The present study probes deeper into the realm of IL ...

 

A defining feature of human language is the ability to interpret syntactic material in different positions from where they appear. For instance, "Who" is interpreted as the object of "kissed", even though it appears in a different clause:

(1) Who did Jonny tell Denny that Lisa kissed _?

It has been shown that resolution of long distance dependencies in sentence processing is an active, predictive process (Crain & Fodor 1985, Stowe 1986). However, it is unclear ...

 

Listeners face many challenges in deciding how to interpret speech. One of these challenges is word segmentation, that is, figuring out where one word ends and the next begins in fluent speech. Listeners use a variety of information when deciding how to segment words. For example, listeners rely on information about how fast someone is talking at the beginning of a sentence to make inferences about how to segment words later in a sentence (Dilley ...

 

In this talk, I will carefully examine purported counterexamples to two postulates of iterated belief revision. I will show that the examples are better seen as a failure to apply the theory of belief revision in sufficient detail rather than a counterexample to the postulates. More generally, I will focus on the observation that it is often unclear whether a specific example is a “genuine” counterexample to an abstract theory or a misapplication of that ...

 

The creation of the Maryland Language Science Center represents a major commitment by the University of Maryland to language science as strategic priority. The Center is a collaborative effort involving more than 200 language scientists, drawn from 16 departments and centers in 6 colleges across the university. The Center’s efforts will focus on interdisciplinary research and training, with the goal of unraveling the mysteries of how human brains make language possible, and solving real-world ...

 

Language Science Day aims to bring together the cross-departmental community of 200+ language science students and faculty to improve awareness of the rich opportunities for language science at the University of Maryland. “Language science” is to be understood broadly, to include cognitive, computational, engineering, clinical, theoretical, philosophical, biological, and educational approaches. The goal is to showcase research activities and opportunities, to make students aware of training possibilities, and to jump-start potential interdisciplinary connections. This is ...

 

I argue for a contextual approach to phasal edges based on an investigation of the possibilities for movement and anaphor binding in constructions where more than one phrase is located at a phasal edge. Additionally, a new, pervasive generalization is established regarding extraction from complements of lexical heads.

 

There is no doubt that cognitive control and language processing are intertwined: Prefrontal cortical regions that support the ability to resolve competition between multiple, incompatible representations are recruited for both language production and language comprehension. In this talk, I will explore a somewhat less intuitive hypothesis, namely that cognitive control has both benefits and costs for language processing. After introducing the motivation for this hypothesis, I will provide evidence from three experiments in which we ...

 

Quinn will lead us in a discussion of epistemic modality, focusing on von Fintel & Gillies 2008.

 

There is some sense of "ought" in which what an agent ought to do depends on her epistemic state--e.g., such that she ought to take whatever she justifiably regards as the best available course of action. Oughts of this kind are closely connected to action-guidance, since unlike "objective oughts" which are epistemic state-invariant, they seem to be epistemically accessible to agents under most circumstances. I argue, however, that under some conditions (namely, conditions of ...

 

Abstract: What do perceptually bistable figures, sentences vulnerable to misinterpretation and the Stroop task have in common? Although seemingly disparate, they all contain elements of conflict or ambiguity. Consequently, in order to monitor a fluctuating percept, reinterpret sentence meaning, or say "blue" when the word RED is printed in blue ink, individuals must regulate attention and engage cognitive control. According to Conflict Monitoring Theory (Botvinick, Braver, Barch, Carter, & Cohen, 2001), the detection of conflict automatically ...

 

All members of the ARHU community are invited to attend the college’s Annual Faculty & Staff Convocation. A reception in the Upper Pavilion/Courtyard will follow the ceremony. The event features recognition of faculty appointments and promotions as well as highlights from the past academic year, such as the promotion of Valentine Hacquard to Associate Professor. ARHU Service Award winners listed will also be recognized at convocation, including Alexis Wellwood, who will be honored with ...

 

Just like the one before it, this meeting is dedicated to introductions. Faculty, students and staff will give one-slide presentations about themselves, their work, etc.

 

In this talk, I will first introduce the proposal that human reasoning relies on an inherence heuristic, an implicit cognitive process that leads people to explain the patterns observed in the world in terms of the inherent features of their constituents. I will then provide evidence for this proposal, evidence that suggests the inherence heuristic is an automatic process that exerts a ubiquitous influence on how we make sense of the world. Its influence is ...

 

The first CNL lab meeting of the semester! This and the next meeting will be dedicated to introductions. Faculty, students and staff will give one-slide presentations about themselves, their work, etc.

 

If you are interested in being involved with fMRI research in any way, you must attend this safety training class once a year, which is only guaranteed to occur once a semester.

 

11:30: Brief orientation session for new students with Howard Lasnik (Grad Director) and Bill Idsardi (Chair)

12:00: Free lunch for everyone, along with introductions

 

This thesis explores how predictions about upcoming language inputs are computed during real-time language comprehension. Previous research has demonstrated humans’ ability to use rich contextual information to compute linguistic prediction during real-time language comprehension, and it has been widely assumed that contextual information can impact linguistic prediction as soon as it arises in the input. This thesis questions this key assumption and explores how linguistic predictions develop in real-time. I provide event-related potential (ERP) and ...

 

This thesis deals with the theory of the phonetic component of grammar in a formal probabilistic inference framework: (1) it has been recognized since the beginning of generative phonology that some language-specific phonetic implementation is actually context-dependent, and thus it can be said that there are gradient “phonetic processes” in grammar in addition to categorical “phonological processes.” However, no explicit theory has been developed to characterize these processes. Meanwhile, (2) it is understood that language ...

 

Grads should arrive by 10:30, faculty should arrive by 10:45.

 

The IGERT poster and video competition is an annual online event in which IGERT trainees submit a poster and video to compete in three categories: judges' choice, community choice, and public choice. Public choice voting can be done by "liking" a video on Facebook.

This year's entrant for UMD's Biological and Computational Foundations of Language Diversity IGERT is Aaron Steven White from Linguistics. His submission can be viewed here.

 

Robots are becoming more and more capable at reasoning about people, objects, and activities in their environments. The ability to extract high-level semantic information from sensor data provides new opportunities for human robot interaction. One such opportunity is to explore interacting with robots via natural language. In this talk I will present our recent work toward enabling robots to interpret, or ground, natural language commands in robot control systems. We build on techniques developed by ...

 

Questions about the nature of the relationship between language and extralinguistic cognition are old, but only recently has a new view emerged that allows for the systematic investigation of claims about linguistic structure, based on how it is understood or utilized outside of the language system. Our paper represents a case study for this interaction in the domain of event semantics. We adopt a transparency thesis about the relationship between linguistic structure and extralinguistic cognition ...

 

Since Darwin, emotion and survival have been intertwined. He proposed that emotional states of mind (feelings like fear or pleasure) help organisms adapt and survive. This equation of emotions (feelings) with survival has guided the field ever since. It is now common to use so-called emotional responses as a way of assessing whether a human or animal is in a particular emotional state of mind, like fear. But there is actually little evidence that feelings ...

 

Linguistic illusions have played an important role in our understanding of how our brains process language. By showing where people are "fooled" by linguistic illusions, we can learn about how linguistic representations are mentally constructed. In this talk, I will show how to make a linguistic illusion appear and disappear, providing new insights into how we encode and navigate complex linguistic representations. In particular, the profile of successes and failures informs our understanding of the ...

 

We will be discussing Seth Yalcin's ''Nonfactualism about epistemic modality''.

 

A full understanding of the development of the brain's functional network architecture requires not only an understanding of developmental changes in neural processing in individual brain regions but also an understanding of changes in inter-regional interactions. Resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) is increasingly being used to study functional interactions between brain regions in both adults and children. In this presentation we will briefly review methods used to study functional interactions and networks with ...

 

Mayfest is a workshop that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to discuss fundamental issues in linguistics. Over the course of two days, participants engage in talks and discussion sessions to stimulate new insights and collaboration. This year, we will be discussing the use of prediction in language and its neural instantiation. Researchers studying language perception, production, and development have been invited to speak about the representational properties, temporal dynamics, and ...

 

rERP: Estimating ERPs using statistical regression

The traditional approach to estimating event-related potential (ERP) signals is to use averaging. This works well, but places severe limitations on experimental design. The theory underlying ERP analyses requires that stimuli vary only in a small number of categorical variables, with all other properties balanced, and events well-separated in time. These restrictions rule out many potentially interesting paradigms, and are nearly impossible to satisfy properly when studying a domain ...

 

Children have to face a variety of challenges when listening to speech. Often, the speech signal that reaches their ears may not be ideal: the signal may be degraded in some form, or there may be background noise, or the speaker may have an unfamiliar accent. This talk will be a broad overview of a number of studies coming from HESP examining how children adjust for these sources of variability in the signal.

 

Adult humans quantify, label, and categorize almost every aspect of the world with numbers. The ability to use numbers is one of the most complex cognitive abilities that humans possess and is often held up as a defining feature of the human mind. In my talk I will present a body of data that demonstrates that there are strong developmental and evolutionary precursors to adult mathematical cognition that can be uncovered by studying human infants ...

 

Human brain function is the result of a highly organized network of connections linking unique areas across the brain. While much research has been devoted to identifying the specialization of distinct functional areas, recent work has argued that we may be able to significantly supplement our current understanding of brain function by characterizing it in terms of its underlying network organization. The mathematical discipline of graph theory is a powerful tool that has recently been ...

 

I'll be presenting the results of a new eye-tracking study on adults' computation of conventional and ad-hoc scalar implicatures during real-time comprehension.

 

English speakers know that the sentence "Alice saw herself in the mirror" means that Alice saw Alice in the mirror and the sentence "Alice saw her in the mirror" means that Alice saw someone else in the mirror. In other words, they know herself is a reflexive pronoun and her is a non-reflexive pronoun. Learning these grammatical categories of pronouns poses a circularity problem. In order to learn that a pronoun is reflexive, learners need ...

 

[SLAB]

Meeting

 

We will be discussing Perry's "The Problem of the Essential Indexical".

 

Landau (2000) identifies a split between P(artial) C (ontrol) predicates (e.g., want), which admit a proper superset relation between the controller and PRO, and E(xhaustive) C(ontrol) predicates (e.g., try), which require absolute identity:

(1) a. John_1 wanted [PRO_{1+c} to eat lunch together at noon]. (c = contextually salient others) b. *John_1 tried [PRO_1 to eat lunch together at noon].

Landau (2000); Pearson (2013) both single out tense as a ...

 

Although Aristotle designated it as one of five basic senses, touch is a complex sense that encompasses numerous modalities (e.g., stretch, pressure, hair movements, vibration). Correspondingly, the touch-sensitive neurons that tile the body's surface display a remarkable array of force sensitivities, neural outputs and cellular morphologies. Although forward genetic screens have identified dozens of essential molecules in invertebrate mechanosensory neurons, we are only now beginning to uncover molecular players that govern the unique ...

 

Learning the meanings of words with visible referents is hard (Quine 1960). The task gets much harder when the word's referent is not even in principle visible (Gleitman 1990, Gillette et al. 1999). Predicates referring to mental states (e.g. think), desires (e.g. want), and speech acts (e.g. say)—known as attitude verbs—fall squarely into the second category. How do learners converge on the correct meanings for these words?

One proposal ...

 

Human populations are able to rapidly acquire knowledge and technology specific to a wide range of environments. The received explanation for this fact is that humans are better than other animals at causal reasoning. In this talk, I present theoretical work that shows that gradual cultural evolution can lead to the rapid evolution of complex technologies without causal understanding, and some empirical results that suggest some aspects of the design of traditional houses in a ...

 

Sentences like (1) present familiar puzzles for the familiar idea that declarative sentences of a natural language have truth conditions.

(1) The first numbered sentence in 'Framing Event Variables' is false.

Action reports like (2) and (3), which might be used to describe a scene in which two chipmunks chased each other, illustrate other (perhaps even harder) puzzles for this idea.

(2) Alvin chased Theodore gleefully and athletically but not skillfully.

(3) Theodore chased Alvin ...

 

It is commonly observed that some phonological positions are associated with prominence while others are not. Prominent positions tend to be characterized by having more robust phonetic cues or a wide range of phonological contrasts, while non-prominent positions have weaker cues and fewer contrasts (e.g., Beckman 1999, Smith 2000). Prominence, however, has often been used as an explanation (e.g., there are more contrasts in a certain “strong” positions because they are psycholinguistically or ...

 

This talk will be an overview of the past, present, and future of the ICSI/UCB Neural Theory of Language (NTL) project. The first section will outline the multi-disciplinary foundations of NTL. The second section will describe continuing efforts to build practical language-understanding systems using these principles. The current application focus is on metaphor understanding and teaching complex tasks to robots. The final discussion will suggest reformulating a unified Cognitive Science based on "Actionability" instead ...

 

When I say “the theater is packed tonight” or “there are a lot of people in the theater tonight,” my utterance leaves a certain amount of uncertainty about the actual number of people in the theater. The same uncertainty is usually present when I say “the theater is full tonight” (even if the number of seats in the theater is known) or “there are 1000 people in the theater tonight.” In all cases, this can ...

 

This is a practice job talk for a position at the University of Leipzig. The working title is 'the syntax of non-syntactic dependencies'

 

We will be discussing Barbara Partee's "Semantics: Mathematics or Psychology?".

 

Across a large number of departments at the University of Maryland, researchers are pursuing lines of inquiry pertaining to mental states like beliefs and desires. The goal of PHLINT – the internal workshop of PHLING – is to afford an opportunity for members of the UMD community to share their work with colleagues from other departments on campus, bringing into conversation research in different disciplines. Our hope is that this will foster greater communication between researchers in ...

 

Abstract: I will discuss advances in the development & use of genetically encoded indicators of neural activity. Recently we have developed probes to directly image synaptic glutamate transmission, and calcium indicators with sufficient sensitivity to detect post-synaptic potentials. These reagents have been deployed in a number of in vivo settings, from C. elegans to rodent. I will highlight our recent discoveries, most of them unpublished or recently published.

 

Much debate in recent years has focused on whether post-verbal elements/PVEs in SOV Hindi are derived via leftwards LCA-compatible movement (Mahajan 1997a/b, 2003), or must be assumed to result from some kind of rightwards non-antisymmetric movement applying to informationally backgrounded constituents (Bhatt and Dayal 2007, Manetta 2012). A second phenomenon, scope restrictions on wh in situ elements in post-verbal CPs, is often linked to the syntactic analysis of PVEs. Comparing Hindi with Bangla ...

 

The proposed study aims to investigate whether second language (L2) learners can acquire implicit knowledge of English articles, which has been found to be problematic especially for L2 learners whose first language does not possess articles. The current study employs the visual-world paradigm, which tracks eye-movement to a visual context during online sentence processing. The advantages for visual-world paradigm for measuring implicit knowledge are discussed. We focus on the two grammatical functions in the English ...

 

When two different images are presented to the two eyes at the corresponding retinal locations, observers often experience binocular rivalry - alternating perception of the two images. In a number of behavioral and neuroimaging experiments using binocular rivalry as a tool, we showed that object category information is available in the brain from the suppressed images, and observers' spatial attention could be guided by certain types of invisible images. With a frequency-tagged SSVEP measure, we also ...

 

Following from our discussion last week, this week in LingBrains we'll discuss the mysteries of basic lexical frequency. How do current word processing theories actually account for frequency effects, and who is arguing with who? Are corpus measures of lexical frequency systematically skewed? Should we expect to see lexical frequency effects on pre-activation (contextual prediction) or re-activation (dependencies)?

 

Modeling the generation of human movement can be extraordinarily difficult owing to the complexity of the underlying musculoskeletal system. The dynamics equations are non-linear and have many degrees of freedom, making them all but intractable to solve directly. We posit that this system can be simplified if its movements are modeled as a set of basis movements that can be adapted to varying conditions. We show that the command torques for such movements can be ...

 
 

The acquisition of attitude verbs has been a topic of interest to researchers in linguistics and psychology for many years. Attitude verbs are a subclass of verbs we use to talk about the contents of other people’s minds. There is a well-documented gap between two particular subclasses of attitude verbs: belief verbs and desire verbs. Many different studies have shown that children acquire the language of desire much sooner than that of belief. This ...

 

We will be discussing Stephen Stich and Shaun Nichols' 1992 paper "Folk Psychology: Simulation or Tacit Theory" as well as selections from Ian Apperly's 2008 book "Mindreaders".

 

Young children have poor cognitive control and difficulty overriding temporary misinterpretations during language processing. We explore whether cognitive control supports syntax-based word-learning when children have to revise misinterpretations. Using preferential-looking, we test whether 20-month-olds are able to use syntax to assign meaning (instrument vs. patient) to novel nouns in sentences containing patient-biased verbs ("She's pushing with the blicket" vs. "She's pushing the blicket"). We also assess infants' cognitive control using a working memory ...

 

How does memory for recent words interact with expectations generated during sentence comprehension? Recent work has provided empirical support to the idea that context actively modulates lexical access by impacting comprehenders' expectations about the identity of upcoming words. However, very little work has been done to address whether and how lexical and contextual factors combine during sentence processing. I will present an electrophysiological experiment that our group (MERP) conducted to examine the contribution of two ...

 

We will be discussing Donka Farkas' 1992 paper "On the semantics of subjunctive complements".

 

Synaptic structural and functional plasticity underlies many forms of enduring behavioral experience, including learning and memory. The molecular mechanisms that drive coordinated remodeling of both synaptic form and function remain mostly undefined. The focus of my talk is on newly recognized roles for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in rapid remodeling of the synaptic microenvironment associated with synaptic and behavioral plasticity. MMPs are a large family of extracellularly-acting, mostly secreted proteases whose targets include extracellular matrix (ECM ...

 

It has long been acknowledged that growing up in poverty is associated with a host of developmental risks, particularly in the domain of language. The effects of SES on vocabulary have been well studied, yet we know less about the degree to which SES may affect syntactic development. While it is acknowledged that syntactic development is largely guided by innate predispositions, in this talk I present evidence of SES differences in five-year-old children’s performance ...

 

We claim that the root nonfinite verb phenomenon, or Optional Infinitive Stage, is a subcase of the larger phenomenon of Interface Delay, as a result of which distinct domains of cognition experience gradual development of their capacity to communicate with one another. Root nonfinite verbs, then, are the result of the delayed development of temporal anaphora – a construct that requires the interaction of syntax with the representation of interlocutors’ common ground perspectives. In the absence ...

 

In humans, hippocampal function is generally recognized as supporting episodic memory, whereas in rats, many believe that the hippocampus creates maps of the environment and supports spatial navigation. How do we reconcile the episodic memory and spatial mapping views of hippocampal function? Here I will discuss evidence that, during learning of what happens where, hippocampal place cells map the locations of events in their spatial context. In addition, I will describe recent findings that, during ...

 

Languages display dependencies between pronouns and noun phrases, with co-reference allowed in phrases such as “John ate dinner while he watched television”. Some other constructions are ruled out by the supposedly universal and innate principle-C constraint, making co-reference impossible in “he ate dinner while John watched television.” But there also exist language-specific restrictions on co-reference such as the Russian poka-constraint, which only acts on sentences with fronted adjunct ‘while’-clauses, disallowing co-reference in sentences such ...

 

We will be discussing David Braun's 2000 paper "Russellianism and Psychological Generalizations".

 

The goal of this talk is to provide a principled account of the factors determining whether a given control verb permits partial control, in terms of semantic properties of the predicate in question.

The ability of certain control predicates to participate in configurations where the controller is a proper subset of the plurality given by the understood subject constitutes a puzzle in the study of control. Such predicates include intend, remember and be glad:

1a ...

 

Although there is substantive evidence of implicit learning (without intention or awareness) of form to form mappings in cognitive psychology, findings in the field of second language acquisition have been inconclusive. This study we report investigated the possibility of adults acquiring a second language morphosyntactic rule implicitly. For the experiment, 65 adult native speakers of English without formal training in language sciences were randomly assigned to one of three groups, (two experimental and one control ...

 

Sometimes off-topic asides during classes lead to ridiculous ideas. This is such a time. Golestani et al. (2011) found that, unsurprisingly, expert phoneticians are weird. In this case, the weirdness in question is in terms of brain morphology. Expert phoneticians are more likely to have more or modified gyri in auditory cortex, and size of pars opercularis is positively correlated with phonetics experience. However, despite attempts in the paper to determine whether each difference between ...

 

Why can I tell you that I 'ran for five minutes' but not that I 'ran all the way to the store for five minutes'? Why can you say that there are 'five pounds of books' in this package if it contains several books, but not 'five pounds of book' if it contains only one? What keeps you from using 'sixty degrees of water' to tell me the temperature of the water in your pool ...

 

Researchers in the cognitive sciences have long debated the relationships between linguistic input and language structure, as well as the relationships between language and cognition. Homesign systems offer a unique window into these relationships. Homesigns are gesture systems developed by deaf individuals who are not exposed to conventional sign or spoken language input. Homesign systems exhibit a number of linguistic properties, but appear to lack others, which depend on access to a linguistic model and ...

 

A general architecture of language production starts from message encoding, goes to lemma selection, lexeme retrieval, segmental retrieval, syllable construction, and to articulation (Ferreira, 2010). Proximate unit is the first selectable phonological unit after lexeme retrieval in spoken word production, and previous research suggested that the proximate unit differs across languages (O’Seaghdha, et al., 2010). Phoneme is considered to be the proximate unit in English, whereas syllable segment is the proximate unit in Mandarin ...

 

We will be discussing Crimmins & Perry's 1989 paper, "The Prince and the Phone Booth: Reporting Puzzling Beliefs".

 

Research on first language acquisition has typically focused on characterizing children's linguistic competence at specific time points. While this research is of critical importance, it provides little insight about how transitions between the time points arises, or about how knowledge of language interacts with more general cognitive processes in the course of sentence processing. Both of these issues have recently been receiving more attention, by means of research demonstrating how children's performance on ...

 

This week we're going to continue the discussion on possibilities for measuring neurophysiological effects of lexical neighborhood/lexical entropy. We'll read Holcomb, Grainger & O'Rourke (2002) 'An Electrophysiological Study of the Effects of Orthographic Neighborhood Size on Printed Word Perception'.

 

A growing body of research using both behavioral and neuroimaging data points to a significant effect of bilingualism on cognitive outcomes across the lifespan. The main finding is evidence for the enhancement of executive control at all stages in the lifespan, with the most dramatic results being maintained cognitive performance in elderly adults, and protection against the onset of dementia. A more complex picture emerges when the cognitive advantages of bilingualism are considered together with ...

 

Philosophers, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists tend to have very different ideas about how to define a representation. I certainly won’t settle this issue in my talk, but I hope to provide data that informs how we think about visual representations, and why we cannot have more of them at once. I will focus on temporary information buffers (attention and working memory), and argue that these buffers have a two-dimensional “map” architecture where individual items ...

 

Verbs play a central role in constraining the structure of a sentence. However, in language production, whether verbs play an essential role in sentence formulation processes is still controversial (rf. Griffin & V. Ferreira, 2006). Some argue that sentence production may proceed in radically incremental (i.e., word-by-word) manner, without a guidance of verbs’ lexical information, especially in head-final languages (e.g., Iwasaki, 2011). This claim implies that verbs are not necessarily coded in early stage ...

 

Winter Storm 2013

Conference

Winter Storm is an annual FREE 2-week intensive training workshop for language scientists. It takes place on the University of Maryland campus, Monday through Friday, January 7-18. It is organized by students from the campus-wide NSF-IGERT program in language science, and it is sponsored by IGERT and by Linguistics and UMIACS.

Winter Storm 2013 is open to all interested participants. Past years have attracted up to 100 participants. There is no cost for participation.

 

Students in LING499 spend the semester working in the Project on Children's Language Learning lab and contributing to novel research progressing in the lab. Here, they will present posters on the research projects they have been working on.

 

The English language is rife with expressions that involve the word might. For example, you are reading this abstract, but you might have decided to read something else instead. Although this claim is undoubtedly true, it is not clear what makes it to be true: what fact it happens to express.

Counterpart theory is a formal language designed to express the meanings of claims involving the word might. According to the counterpart theorist, the claim ...

 

In my 895 I address the question of categorical effects in perception on three classes of phonemes: Vowels, Stop Consonants, and Fricatives. First, I explore previous work related to the categorical effects of vowels and stop consonants. Then, I review work on Fricatives and present my own work on behavioral and neural evidence for categorical effects in fricative perception. I proceed to review an existing model for the Perceptual Magnet Effect in vowels, and extend ...

 

Dustin Chacón will lead our discussion.

 

Positing a morpheme-based route to complex word recognition entails not only access to morphological constituents, but also mechanisms for the initial segmentation of words into putative constituents, and compositional processes operating on these constituent representations. In this talk, I will present some recent findings on segmentation, morphological activation, and composition in complex words, including evidence from priming, lexical decision, and passive reading paradigms, in tandem with the electrophysiological brain imaging methods EEG and MEG. The ...

 

Title: Rethinking priming: Is it simply prediction?

Contenders: Wing Yee Chow, Sol Lago

Moderator: Shevaun Lewis

Special appearance: Rob Fiorentino (U of Kansas)

Abstract: Priming is one of the most well established psycholinguistic phenomena. When a target word is preceded by a related prime (e.g., doctor-NURSE), processing of the target word is facilitated across various experimental measures. This important finding has been taken to reflect automatic spread of activation between words in the lexicon ...

 

Human language appears to be unique in the animal kingdom, but precisely what its role is in distinctively human thought has been the subject of intense debate. For many, this issue is sidelined in favor of investigating the perhaps more obvious role of language in distinctively human communication. The net result appears to be that while philosophers and psychologists have offered quite explicit proposals about the relationship between language-and-thought or language-and-communication, rarely are the two ...

 

I challenge a recent attempt by Antony Eagle to defend the possibility of deterministic chance. Eagle argues that statements of the form ‘x has a (non-trivial) chance to φ’ are equivalent in common usage (and in their truth-conditions) to those of the form ‘x can φ’. The effect of this claim on the debate about the compatibility of (non-trivial) chances with a deterministic world seems to be relatively straightforward. If ‘x has a chance to ...

 

Before hearing onset, neuronal activity in developing auditory pathways is dominated by rhythmic patterns of spontaneous action potentials. It has remained controversial whether this stereotypic pattern is important for the development or refinement of central auditory pathways. I will present recent results which demonstrate that genetic ablation of cholinergic neurotransmission to developing cochlear hair cells alters the temporal fine structure without affecting the overall level of spontaneous activity. These abnormal activity patterns interfered with the ...

 

In this talk, I will discuss two new problems for the satisfaction theory of presupposition. In 1996 Bart Geurts pointed out that a certain impossibility predicted by the satisfaction theory of presupposition was not borne out; he called this the Proviso Problem. Where the theory predicted that there could be no atomic, or logically strong presuppositions of conditional sentences, Geurts found that in many very natural cases, the presupposition projected is just the strong one ...

 

There is a tradition of linguistic research starting with the earliest work in generative grammar that aims to employ notions of computational restrictiveness (e.g, generative capacity, parsing complexity, etc.) to explain general properties of human language. When such work is successful, it provides theoretical simplification as well as a means for understanding (as opposed to stipulating) why human grammars are structured as they are. This tradition has been applied widely in the linguistic domains ...

 

Wednesday, November 28th at 4 pm in 1103 Taliaferro

When engaging with a work of fiction one task we must accomplish is determining what is true of the fictional world described by the work. Fictions prescribe particular authorized games of make-believe. It is a challenging task to determine which fictional truths are prescribed by a fiction even when dealing with paradigms of fiction such as literature and film. Inconsistencies and incomplete aspects threaten to make ...

 

Mike McCourt will lead our discussion.

 

Silvina Montrul is Professor and Head of the Dept of Spanish and Portuguese at the U. of Illinois, where she also holds appointments in Linguistics and the Second Language Acquisition Program. She is the editor of the journal Second Language Research, and she is the founder and director of the University Language Academy for Children, a program that promotes Spanish-language education for non-native speakers and language maintenance for heritage speakers. In recent years her research ...

 

Since Darwin, emotion and survival have been intertwined. He proposed that emotional states of mind (feelings like fear or pleasure) help organisms adapt and survive. This equation of emotions (feelings) with survival has guided the field ever since. It is now common to use so-called emotional responses as a way of assessing whether a human or animal is in a particular emotional state of mind, like fear. But there is actually little evidence that feelings ...

 

The goal of this paper is to defend Tyler Burge’s (1973) approach to the semantics of proper names, according to which proper names are predicates in their own right. On this predicate approach, the predicative contents of proper names figure in the computation of meaning at two different levels. Depending on its linguistic environment, a proper name contributes its metalinguistic content either to the presupposition or assertive content of a sentence. The singular use ...

 

I present evidence that speakers of Cochabamba Quechua are aware of non-local restrictions on laryngeal features in their language, and look at whether typological asymmetries have an impact on the synchronic knowledge of Quechua speakers.

Quechua exhibits two non-local restrictions of interest: a cooccurrence restriction prohibits pairs of ejectives within roots (e.g., [k'ap'i], and an ordering restriction prohibits roots with an initial plain stop and a medial ejective (e.g., [kap’i ...

 

It is often assumed that humans are inherently selfish, and cultural norms and practices have to override these tendencies to enable altruistic behavior. Specifically, young children are thought to be driven mainly by immediate selfish motivations, acquiring altruistic behaviors through the internalization of social norms or being rewarded for socially desired behavior. Moreover, it has been argued that our closest evolutionary relatives are motivated by selfish interests alone, not caring about the needs of others ...

 

Looking back to human language history, it is almost always the case that spoken language precedes written language. Also, developmentally, children learn to speak much earlier than they learn to write. Hence, speech is usually considered to be the primary linguistic modality, whilewritten language is taken to be a cultural artifact used to document the oral speech. This is an orthoxy in the history of Linguistics. Saussure (1916) contends that the only reason for the ...

 

Quinn Harr will lead our discussion on Kripke's "Puzzle about Belief".

 

Discussion of highlights from the Neurobiology of Language Conference

 

Our nose can identify millions of individual odors and group mixtures of odors into specific percepts. An odor is recognized independently of its concentrations and other background odors. A lot is known about the initial step of information processing: odors are sensed by a large family of olfactory receptors. Each odor excites multiple receptors and each receptor is activated by multiple odors. Information about the external world is transmitted to the brain in a combinatorial ...

 

Professor Barbara Partee (Distinguished University Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) will be giving a series of three lectures (handouts here), generously supported by Dave Baggett.

This third lecture follows on the first, but it is not meant for a fully general audience. Still it should be accessible to students as well as colleagues in linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, etc., and it does not presuppose the content of the second.


Abstract ...

 

Professor Barbara Partee (Distinguished University Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is giving a series of three lectures (handouts here), generously supported by Dave Baggett.

This second lecture follows on the content of the first, but it is not for a general audience. Still it should be accessible to students as well as colleagues in linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, etc..


Abstract

The history of formal semantics as described in Lecture I ...

 

Professor Barbara Partee (Distinguished University Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is giving a series of three lectures (handouts here), generously supported by Dave Baggett.

This first lecture is intended for a general audience.


Abstract

There have been centuries of study of logic and of language. Many philosophers and logicians have argued that natural language is logically deficient, or even that “natural language has no logic”. And before the birth of ...

 

Professor Barbara Partee (Distinguished University Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) will be giving a series of three lectures (handouts here), generously supported by Dave Baggett.

The first lecture is intended to be accessible to a general audience but still interesting for linguists and philosophers. The second and third lectures should be accessible to students as well as colleagues in linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, etc.. The second and the third each ...

 

Recent advances in network science have greatly increased our understanding of the structure and function of many networked systems, ranging from transportation networks, to social networks, the internet, ecosystems, and biochemical and gene transcription pathways. Network approaches are also increasingly applied to the brain, at several levels of scale from cells to entire brain systems. We now know that brain networks exhibit a number of characteristic topological features, including small-world attributes, modularity and hubs. I ...

 

Young children have both poor cognitive control (CC) and difficulty overriding temporary misinterpretations during language processing. We explored whether CC supports syntax-based word-learning when children have to revise misinterpretations. Using preferential-looking, we tested whether 20-month-olds could use syntax to assign meaning (instrument vs. patient) to novel nouns in sentences containing patient-biased verbs (“She’s pushing with the blicket” vs. “She’s pushing the blicket”). We also assessed infants’ CC using a working memory game. High- ...

 

Many biological functions oscillate over the course of a day, and the precise timing of these rhythms depends on synchronization to the solar cycle. Changes in day length, shift-work, and transmeridian travel, which disrupt exposure to the solar cycle, lead to mood and cognitive function deficits. Sleep deprivation and circadian disruption are known to underlie mood and cognitive disorders associated with irregular light schedules. However, little is known about the ability of light to directly ...

 

Florian Schwarz, from the University of Pennsylvania, will present joint work with Sonja Tiemann, University of Tuebingen. Abstract below.

One prominent line of experimental research on meaning in the past decade or so has been concerned with the relative time course of different aspects of meaning unfolding in online processing, mostly with a focus on scalar implicatures vs. literal meaning. More recent work has begun to look at the processing of presuppositions as yet another ...

 

Classical theories of cognition are symbolic, relying on rules and complex mental data structures. These approaches are powerful and inherently systematic but often brittle and intolerant of noise, and do not reflect the low-level structure of human brains. Connectionist or "sub-symbolic" approaches do reflect brain structure and are robust to noise, but are generally viewed as opaque and, often, as incapable of representing the complex structures necessary for higher cognition. What if we could combine ...

 

In natural language processing, the bootstrapping algorithm introduced by David Yarowsky (15 years ago) is a discriminative unsupervised learning algorithm that uses some seed rules to bootstrap a classifier (this is the ordinary sense of bootstrapping which is distinct from the Bootstrap in statistics). The Yarowsky algorithm works remarkably well on a wide variety of NLP classification tasks such as distinguishing between word senses and deciding if a noun phrase is an organization, location, or ...

 

Five undergraduate Linguistics majors received summer funding in 2012 to work on research under the guidance of a Linguistics faculty member. Come hear what they did, or come find out where their funding came from and how you can get similar funding next summer.

 

Sound encoding at the synapse between inner hair cells and spiral ganglion neurons in the mammalian cochlea operates with submillisecond temporal precision, drives neural spiking at hundreds per second over hours and covers sound pressures that span six orders of magnitude. When hair cells transduce a sound driven mechanical stimulus into an electrical signal, voltage-gated CaV1.3 L-type Ca2+ channels open and the Ca2+ influx triggers exocytosis of glutamate filled vesicles at their ribbon synapses ...

 

The Mid-Atlantic Student Colloquium on Speech, Language and Learning is a one day event bringing together faculty, researchers and students from universities in the Mid-Atlantic area working in Speech/Language/ML. The colloquium is an opportunity to present preliminary or completed work and to network with other students, faculty and researchers working in related fields. The event will be hosted at the University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD) on October 19, 2012.

 

In most countries around the world, infants are exposed to multiple accent and dialectal variants of the native language early in life. This variation in exposure is the result of existing and expanding multicultural contacts (e.g., accessibility to foreign media) and multilingualism, and is relevant for both monolingual and bilingual children across cultures. Early on, children must therefore identify the components of speech that are relevant for language comprehension, and make talker generalizations that ...

 

There is current interest in how we are able to make an estimate of the approximate number of objects in a scene: existing evidence suggests that we may have a dedicated "visual number" sense that may even be linked to mathematical ability. In this talk I will present evidence from my lab that, contrary to this position, human sense of number is not independent of our sense of space/distance and that our ability to ...

 

One goal of time research is to link the dynamics of brain processes (temporal processes) with the conscious experience of time (time perception). Traditionally, the hallmark of time perception has been the experience of duration requiring at least two temporal markers: onset and offset of an event delimiting an interval or ‘time quantity’ that the brain needs to estimate in order to elicit our experience of time. It has become clear that neural oscillations provide ...

 

Previous studies from different languages have suggested that online pronoun resolution is sensitive to semantic, syntactic and phonological information about the antecedent, but are challenged by the finding that, in English, reading times on pronouns vary inversely with the frequency of their antecedents. In two eye-tracking experiments, I re-examine this question by exploring how the lexical frequency of the antecedent affects reading times after a pronoun. The results show that reading times following pronouns are ...

 

There are at least two notable differences between English and Japanese attitude attributions. A first difference is that Japanese has more complementizer options and different verbs select a different set of complementizers (Kuno, 1973). For example, the factive verb koukaisuru (‘regret’) takes the complement type koto, but it is incompatible with to, whereas the verb of saying iu (‘say’) is compatible with to, but not with koto. A second difference, which I focus on in ...

 

Word selection in language production is not a simple task; it involves activating the appropriate word form while avoiding similarly activated semantic and phonological competitors. Bilingual language production seems to be even more challenging, as lexical items from multiple languages become competitors as well. Many models of bilingual lexical selection suggest that a form of inhibitory control enables selection in the correct language. Some models, however, suggest that lexical selection might not rely domain general ...

 

Comparing EEG and eyetracking measures of sentence comprehension

 

Philosophy Colloquium Talk
David Miller, Professor, University of Warwick

If You Must Do Confirmation Theory, Do It This Way

In this talk I begin to draw together, and package into a coherent philosophical position, a number of ideas that in the last 25 years I have alluded to, or sometimes stated explicitly, concerning the properties and the merits of the measure of deductive dependence q(c | a) of one proposition c on another proposition a ...

 

Pregroup Grammar is a type logical grammar formalism derived from Categorial Grammar. Unlike most formalisms, however, it has a radically flattened conception of sentence structure, making it interesting to syntacticians interested in the nature of structure dependence and other related aspects of UG. This tutorial will introduce the Pregroup Grammar formalism, as well as its two standard semantic theories, the "syntactic" lambda-calculus-like semantics and the "quantum-mechanical" tensor algebra semantic.

 

Computational approaches to phonology have gained in popularity in recent years. These approaches use models to formalize hypotheses about how people learn aspects of sound structure, or to investigate basic principles about how sound systems are organized. The Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop (NECPhon) is an informal gathering of scholars interested in any aspect of computational phonology. Our goal is to provide a relaxed atmosphere where researchers can share their latest work. This is the sixth ...

 

Music is a fundamentally human activity that is celebrated worldwide and from a young age, but why we know and love our music has remained a mystery. Epic successes and failures in the human history of music, from Mozart to Hillary Clinton, are informative of the neural systems that give rise to musical ability. I will describe behavioral, structural and functional neuroimaging, and brain-stimulation studies that use music as a model to understand and to ...

 

I will address the basic question of how much a person can think about at one time, and how the contents of the conscious mind might be measured. In 1956 George A. Miller, a founding cognitive psychologist who died recently, suggested that the amount of information that one can recall from a just-presented list is fixed at about seven meaningful units, or chunks. Two critically important issues about this working memory capacity limit were left ...

 

It is commonly acknowledged that "what is said" is not the same as "what is meant." In conversation, listeners must infer what speakers intend to communicate, drawing on not only the information in the linguistic signal, but also their own knowledge about the immediate context, the speaker, the world at large, and the conversational conventions of their community. These inferences lead to "pragmatic enrichment" of sentence meanings at a number of levels, ranging from the ...

 

Psycholinguistic upshots of OT (Optimality Theory)

 

Debate persists over whether Mandarin Chinese, a language with no overt agreement marking and (arguably) no overt tense marking, exhibits a (covert) finite/nonfinite split. Proponents of such a split point to asymmetries in the properties of complement clauses that they argue are most naturally explained by positing a finite/nonfinite distinction (C-T. J. Huang 1982, 1984, 1987, 1989; Li 1985, 1990; C.C. Tang 1990; Ernst 1994; T.C. Tang 2000; T-.H. J ...

 

All our sensors are noisy and our perception of the world is incomplete. Hence, the brain needs to solve a statistical problem: estimate the state of the world based on incomplete information. We use perceptual and imaging studies to ask how the brain solves such statistical problems. Following ideas inspired by Bayesian statistics we ask how the brain represents and computes with uncertainty.

 

Dustin Chacón, Candise Lin, Angela He, and Sol Lago will be presenting on their IGERT Rotations and other interdisciplinary work. Lunch provided by Shevaun Lewis.

 

MEG timing and discussion of Breen, Kingston, & Sanders

 

Abstract: Claims that certain traits are innate abound in the biological and cognitive sciences. Having legs is said to be an innate trait for frogs (and many other species), and the capacity to learn a language is said to be innate for humans. These claims appear to be intended as explanatory statements—the fact that a trait is innate is meant to perform some work towards explaining things that we would like our biological and ...

 

Essentialism is the idea that items have an underlying reality that explains their manifest appearance and determines their identity. I argue that essentialism is an early cognitive bias. Young children's concepts reflect a deep commitment to essentialism, and this commitment leads children to look beyond the obvious in many converging ways: when learning words, generalizing knowledge to new category members, reasoning about the insides of things, contemplating the role of nature versus nurture, and ...

 

Student members will briefly introduce the group to their work, and we will discuss Frege's "The Thought".

 

Philosophy Colloquium Talk
Fabrizio Cariani, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

Three Grades of Decision-Theoretic Involvement (in Semantics)

There has been a lot of interest in how to derive some broadly decision theoretic verdicts concerning deontic modalities and their interactions with conditionals. It is easy to argue that a traditional Kratzer-style premise-semantics needs some revisions in order to get these facts right. The difficulty is how to develop a semantic theory that gets those facts while remaining ...

 

The University of Maryland hosts the largest and most integrated community of language scientists in North America. Language Science Day aims to bring together the cross-departmental community of language science students and faculty to improve awareness of the rich opportunities for language science at the University of Maryland. The goal is to showcase research activities and opportunities, to make students aware of training possibilities, and to jump-start potential interdisciplinary connections. This is the third annual ...

 

Humans weave phonological patterns instinctively. We form phonological patterns at birth; like songbirds, we do so spontaneously, even in the absence of an adult model, and we impose phonological design not only on our natural linguistic communication but also on invented cultural technologies—reading and writing. Why are humans—young and mature—compelled to generate phonological patterns? And how can phonological patterns be intimately grounded in their sensorimotor channels (oral or manual) while remaining partly ...

 

Philosophy Colloquium Talk
Darren Bradley, Assistant Professor, CUNY

Functionalism and the Independence Problems

The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that functional properties that are defined in terms of their causes and effects are not sufficiently independent of those purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, conceptual connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious ...

 

Embodied cognition is an idea in high fashion. Concepts are postulated to entail simulations of sensory experiences or reenactments of motor behavior with instances of these concepts. I will argue that strong versions of embodied cognition are untenable. The choice between a purely symbolic and a fully embodied cognition obscures a more realistic question: what does it mean for cognition to be “grounded” in perception and action and still permit abstraction? This kind of question ...

 
  • 11:30 Brief orientation session for new students with Grad Director Howard Lasnik, and Department Chair Bill Idsardi.

  • 12:00 Lunch for everyone in department, along with introductions.

1108B Marie Mount Hall (the "large Seminar Room")

 

Alexis Wellwood and Cybelle Smith will be giving practice talks for their presentations at the Cognitive Science Society annual meeting, this August in Sapporo, Japan. The event should run 1.5 hours.

 

Development of medical techniques with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has increased our knowledge of voice production mechanisms in speech and singing. Our experience with high-resolution imaging techniques has also provided us new insights into physiological and acoustic aspects of voice production process. Physiologically, the larynx is under the control of the surrounding motor apparatus, and changes in voice fundamental frequency is dependent not only on the internal laryngeal functions but also on the external mechanisms ...

 

I consider two analyses of the syntax-semantics of cross-categorial constructions with more. The first view (held in the literature) posits that more is interpreted as a degree quantifier fed degrees by a heterogeneous collection of measure functions. The second view (the one I propose) interprets more as a functional relation between a degree and a measurement provided by a single measure function MUCH. A number of empirical and theoretical arguments are leveled to distinguish these ...

 

Recent studies show that by 11 months, language experience constrains infants¹ detection of audio-visual correspondences in non-native speech (Pons et al., 2009; Best et al., 2010, 2011). But what is it that they have learned about native AV relations, and how does it bias their responses to non-native speech? An array of theoretical views offer differing hypotheses. The Learned Association view posits that AV associations require experience to develop, i.e., should emerge in older ...

 

Day 1: 2:30-5pm -- Phases, a rough history (Norbert)

Day 2: 10-12:30pm -- Evidence for vP phases- Brad reviewing work by Rakowski and Richards (in the upstairs conference room)

Day 3: 2:30-5pm -- New views of phases part 1: Masa on Case and phases and Boskovic on phases

Day 4: 2:30-5pm -- Phase extension: Dustin on den Dikken approach

Day 5: 2:30-5pm -- Phases as spell out domains: Yuki on Fox and Pesestsky.

 

Presuppositions can produce what come across as inferential effects. An example is the following three-sentence discourse:

(1) ‘I gave the workers a generous tip. One thanked me. The other left without saying a word.’ (see [1])

This discourse seems to entail that the number of workers referred to in the first sentence was 2. This effect is quite systematic, as can be observed by varying the subject phrases of the second and third sentence of ...

 

Mayfest is a workshop that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to discuss fundamental issues in linguistics. Over the course of two days, participants engage in talks and discussion sessions to stimulate new insights and collaboration. This year's workshop will center on the role of computational modeling in developing theories of human language.

 

The Greeks used the concept, techne, to refer to crafts and skills that were associated with creation of reliably superior products. Later on this concept was extended to include categories of less reliable performance in law and medicine. Subsequent efforts to develop expertise promoted extended experience, acquisition of knowledge, general ability (talent) and advanced schooling. Consistent with this general view it is often assumed that 10 years of professional experience changes people into experts. Recent ...

 

A key property of natural language is its ability to establish relationships between non-adjacent items in a sentence. For example, a verb must agree with its subject, though the two items may be separated by several words or phrases, as in The student(s) in the IGERT program eat(s) lunch every Thursday. Constructing these linguistic relations requires rapid access to the products of past analyses to integrate incoming material into a developing representation of ...

 

Developmental prosopagnosia is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by severe face recognition deficits in the presence of intact low-level vision and intellect. The condition provides a unique window to investigate a range of issues in face processing. In my talk, I'll discuss studies investigating its cognitive, neural, and genetic basis.

 

Much work has documented children's comprehension difficulties with verbs of cognitive state--e.g. "think", "believe", "realize", "want", "say", etc. Adult-like representations of desire and communication verbs like "want" and "say" and belief state verbs like "think" do not appear to be present until 3 and 4 years of age, respectively (de Villiers 2005). One factor in this late-learning may be the nature of the evidence that children have at their disposal for learning these ...

 

PHLING

Meeting

We are discussing David Lewis' "General Semantics", 1970.

 

In this talk I will review a variety of roles of inhibitory interactions and mechanisms in the auditory cortex. Receptive field differences exist between excitatory and inhibitory neurons that influence their mutual interactions. Excitatory and inhibitory neurons have distinct spatial pattern in relation to cortical functional organization. The development and plasticity of cortical receptive fields is strongly influenced by inhibitory influences and modulations. Finally, acute or chronic manipulations of inhibitory networks can lead to a ...

 

In this talk I explore how the semantic feature of animacy can help guide children's learning of certain abstract predicates, and lead them to figure out the syntactic structures associated with these predicates. More specifically, I show that encountering an inanimate subject in a biclausal structure provides a cue that the subject is displaced with respect to its theta-marked position. In turn, this tells the learner that the main predicate is what I'll ...

 

Categories in perception and classification exists in many domains, including artificial shape perception, color discrimination, and lexical categories of words. Sound perception is no different, and various types of sounds have been explored for the type of categoricity effects they elicit. When we consider two classic cases of Stop Consonants and Vowels, they differ in the extend to which they are perceived categorically. Categorical perception has been proposed for the very categorical stop consonants, while ...

 

Language Acquisition lab meeting, looking at the 3rdMan study for this semester.

 

Early life experience potently shapes brain function and adult behavior. The biological bases underlying these windows of plasticity are increasingly being resolved in the developing mouse neocortex. This talk will cover core concepts of "critical periods" across sensory systems (visual, auditory, cross-modal). Pioneering the use of a molecular/genetic approach, we revealed that specific GABA circuits orchestrate the functional and structural rewiring of neural networks during sensory cortical development. Consequently, shifting excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) circuit balance ...

 

Many of you are familiar with the work that Wing Yee has presented in this area before -- on Friday she will be talking about possible future developments of the work, some of which she plans to run in China in the near future.

 

How does human language comprehension achieve its hallmark ability to construct an unbounded range of compositional meanings from a finite (though large) set of individual words? My lab uses event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to investigate the neuro-cognitive processes serving on-line sentence comprehension. ERPs provide sensitivity to distinct neural processes with millisecond-level temporal resolution and a limited ability to resolve neuroanatomical sources. Recent findings in our lab and others’ indicate that semantic knowledge can drive combinatory ...

 

The problem of presupposition projection is the problem of relating the presuppositions of complex sentences to the presuppositions of their parts, in an application of the general principle of semantic compositionality. It has been agreed, ever since Karttunen's papers on the subject in the 1970s, that sentences do inherit the presuppositions of their parts, i.e. that presuppositions do project, but under certain quite complex conditions. But what is the form of the projection ...

 

[Tydings Hall is the 3rd building to the west of MMH, after Woods and Key.]

Readers and listeners assign interpretations to text and speech moment-by-moment as soon as they perceive new input, rather than waiting until sentences unfold entirely to discern who is doing what to whom. Although efficient, processing language ‘on-the-fly’ can be costly: early interpretations sometimes turn out wrong when late-arriving input conflicts with one’s developing analysis. In this talk, I will ...

 

In this talk, I provide a new explanation for the well-known, cross-linguistically frequent phenomenon whereby anticausatives and reflexives are (or can be) expressed with the same morphology. I focus specifically on the role of the -st morpheme in the Icelandic sentences in (1) and (2).

(1) Rúðan splundraðist.
window.the shattered-ST
'The window shattered.' (anticausative)

(2) Bjartur tróðst gegnum mannþröngina.
Bjartur squeezed-ST through crowd.the
'Bjartur squeezed (himself) through the crowd.' (figure reflexive)

 

PHLING

Meeting

We are discussing Katz & Fodor 1963, "The Structure of a Semantic Theory".