Upcoming events

Hannah Sande · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 

Roumyana Pancheva · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 

Stephanie Shih · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 
 
 

Ryan Bochnak · TBA

Linguistics Colloquium

 

Past events

This paper investigates how children figure out the force of modals: that possibility modals (e.g. can, might) express possibility, and necessity modals (e.g. must, have to), necessity. Given that necessary p entails possible p, any situation where a necessity modal is used is logically compatible with a possibility interpretation. What then prevents children from hypothesizing possibility meanings for necessity modals? Can children rely on evidence from negative environments—which reverse the direction of ...

 

I will be talking about my current study on the acquisition of additive particles. I'll quickly go over the results from the experiment I ran in Japan this summer, and also preliminary results from the experiment I'm currently running on English-speaking children. I will also go over two experiments that is currently under work, which I'd very much appreciate your feedback on.

 

Hagen Blix (NYU) will be leading discussion of the paper "Structure removal: An argument for feature-driven Merge" by Gereon Müller, which argues in favor of a new syntactic operation "Remove" that removes structure in the course of the derivation. He will be presenting an alternative analysis of one of the empirical domains motivating the operation, complex prefields in German.

 

Across the cognitive and behavioral sciences, a distinction is drawn between how we should choose or behave (according to a normative or rational analysis), and how we actually choose or behave (as observed in experiments, and as described by cognitive or neural mechanism theories). This talk presents models based on an alternative perspective that incorporates cognitive bounds into definitions of optimal decision and control, and that explains behavior as a rational adaptation to these bounds ...

 

In this paper, I criticize an argument presented by Dan Harris (forthcoming), but show how its conclusion could be secured by other means. On Harris’ view, if linguistics is a cognitive science, then its components, including semantics, must be modules—informationally encapsulated input systems (Fodor 1983). Harris then argues that a semantic module must output not a proposition, but a constraint on a class of propositions (cf. Carston 2012). The route from sentence meaning to ...

 

We often think of quantifiers like “each” and “every” as expressing a relation between two sets. On this view, the meaning of “each/every circle is green” is something like “the circles are a subset of the green things”. This correctly captures the relevant truth-conditions, but does it accurately describe how these quantifiers represented in speakers’ minds? In this talk, I’ll present data from adults and kids to argue that “each” and “every” have ...

 

This is a practice talk for a talk being given at the Society of Computation in Linguistics meeting, co-located with the LSA in January 2020. The abstract for the SCiL talk is below.

We ask how the representation of person features in syntax affects learning in a Bayesian model, focusing on the Person Case Constraint (PCC). In PCC languages, certain clitic combinations are disallowed with ditransitive verbs. We compare a simple theory of the PCC ...

 

One of the great unsolved mysteries in science concerns the origins of intelligence. What are the learning mechanisms in newborn brains? What role does experience play in the development of knowledge? To address these questions, my lab uses a two-pronged approach. First, we perform controlled-rearing experiments, using newborn chicks as a model system. We raise chicks in strictly controlled virtual worlds and record their behavior 24/7 as they learn to perceive and understand their ...

 

The goal of this talk is twofold. Using empirical data from Moksha, I first show that both locative cases and locative postpositions can represent the generalized category P. Second, I argue that the complement of the P head does not have to be a full DP; some P heads can only take bare NPs as complements. The language I investigate here (Moksha; Finno-Ugric, Uralic) has rich morphology. Moksha nouns inflect for number, possession, definiteness and ...

 

Human listeners are better at telling apart speakers of their native language than speakers of other languages, a phenomenon known as the language familiarity effect. The recent observation of such an effect in infants as young as 4.5 months of age (Fecher & Johnson, in press) has led to new difficulties for theories of the effect. On the one hand, retaining classical accounts—which rely on sophisticated knowledge of the native language (Goggin, Thompson, Strube ...

 

Jordan Schneider, Laurel Perkins and Naomi Feldman, A noisy channel model for systematizing unpredictable input variation

Laurel Perkins, Naomi Feldman and Jeffrey Lidz, Mind the gap: Learning the surface forms of movement

 

Humans are remarkably skilled at listening to one speaker inin the ignored speech source, over and above onsets of the mixture and the attended source. This suggest that the auditory cortex initially reconstructs acoustic onsets that could belong to any speech source, even when those onsets are acoustically obscured by another source. The auditory cortex tracked onsets in the acoustic mixture with a lower latency (~70 ms) than obscured onsets (~100 ms), suggesting a neural ...

 

Mina Hirzel and Jeffrey Lidz, 3 year-old children respect the complex-NP constraint

Jeffrey Lidz and Laurel Perkins, The development of wh-question representations in infancy: Evidence from 15- and 18-month-olds

Alexander Williams, Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz, Transitive clauses can describe 3-participant events: Evidence against one-to-one matching between arguments and participants in verb learning

 

In this All Hallow's Eve special, we'll focus on a well-established semantic universal: conservativity. Namely, the fact that "every ghost is spooky" is truth-conditionally equivalent to "every ghost is a ghost that's spooky". All quantificational determiners in natural language exhibit this property and kids can't even learn novel quantifiers that don't. But despite its importance and robustness, we still don't have a satisfactory account of where conservativity comes from ...

 

In this talk, I will present a unified account for the discourse particle ba in Mandarin. Previously, people have argued for two bas: ba1 in declaratives, which weakens the assertion; ba2 in questions, which strengthens the question by urging the addressee to answer it (Zhu 1999). I propose that there is only one ba, whose function is to signal that the speaker is exempting herself from a discourse obligation; the effects of ba in ...

 

I'll be talking about three experiments I completed this summer on the acquisition of Mandarin wh-items.

 

There have been numerous discussions about what communication modality bring to the task of building units in signed and spoken languages. In this talk I discuss three kinds of phonological phenomena, and ask to what extent they function identically in both types of language, and to what extent their realization is tailored to the communication modality. None of these examples are individual constraints or rules, but rather abstract mechanisms that describe how phonology coheres as ...

 
 

A paper is available here.

A disjunctive sentence like Olivia took Logic or Algebra suggests that Olivia didn’t take both classes (‘exclusivity’ inference) and that the speaker is ignorant as to which of the classes she took (‘ignorance’ inference). The corresponding sentence with a possibility modal, Olivia can take Logic or Algebra, conveys that she can take Logic and that she can take Algebra (‘free choice’ inference). These exclusivity, ignorance and free choice inferences ...

 

I'll be giving an update on the acquisition study, PaQua.

The literature on the acquisition of the passive has generally found that (i) kids fail to comprehend all passive sentences until as late as 6 years old; and (ii) children can comprehend passives of actional verbs at an earlier age than passives of non-actional verbs, perhaps between 4 and 5 years old.

Both these observations have led to a variety of claims about children ...

 

Semantic prediction facilitates lexical access, but it is unclear how this prediction influences bottom-up lexical competition processes. We asked whether bottom-up competition is influenced by semantic prediction strategies during children’s sentence processing. We investigated whether semantic prediction would differentially impact this bottom-up process across a range of ages (5-10 years). Sentence stimuli were constructed in pairs with a predictive or neutral verb (e.g., The brother draws/gets the small picture). Children’s eye ...

 

Human communication – pragmatic theories tell us – requires impressive inferential abilities and mind-reading skills (such as recognising communicative intentions and taking into account common ground). To learn how to speak and become competent communicators children need both. Yet, theories are divided concerning the breadth of mindreading skills in young communicators. Research is also divided on how good young children’s pragmatic abilities are. On the one hand, much evidence suggests pragmatics play a grounding role in ...

 

Over the past two years at Microsoft I spent a significant amount of time hanging out with, and working with, social scientists, legal scholars, economists, humanists, and computer scientists in the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics (FATE) group. In this talk, I'll share some small pieces of what I learned in this expedition, focusing mostly on questions around risks of harms in NLP systems, needs of engineers of machine learning systems, and work bridging ...

 

The existence of floated quantifier sentences, like German (1-2), raise a number of questions.

1. Wen hast du  alles Schachmatt gesetzt?
   who have you all   check.mate put
   "Who all did you checkmate?"

2. Wen1 hat die Maria gesagt, 
   who  has the Maria said 
   [CP dass du e1 alles Schachmatt gesetzt hast]?
       that you   all   check.mate put     have
   "Who all did Maria say that you checkmated?"

For instance: (i) What is the (seemingly long-distance ...

 

I'll present on a study we've been doing in collaboration with Nico Cesana-Arlotti and Justin Halberda on representations of collective and distributive actions.

We showed adults and infants movies in which chevrons chased moving balls. Adults spontaneously used the word “All” to describe movies depicting collectively-exhaustive chasing (e.g., 3 chevrons all pursued a single ball together), and “Each” for distributively-exhaustive chasing actions (3 chevrons each chased their own ball). Crucially, the use ...

 

Gary Thoms · Sidestepping agreement

Linguistics Colloquium

A substantial body of evidence has accrued in the literature for the idea that syntactic intervention effects can be alleviated by moving interveners ‘out of the way.’ A well-known example comes from Icelandic long distance agreement examples like (1): dative experiencers, such as "einhverri konu" in (1a), block long- distance plural agreement between the finite verb and a low nominative argument, but movement of the experiencer to the subject position seems to be enough to ...

 

Agreement on a predicate tends to be rigid and predictable: "I am/is/are", "you and me are/am/is". This behavior (and other properties of agreement) leads us to analyze it as a syntactic phenomenon. However, it has been observed that under some circumstances agreement starts to vary across speakers and scenarios (McCloskey 1991): "That the president will be reelected and that he will be impeached is/are equally likely." In this talk I ...

 

Standard semantics for counterfactuals (Lewis 1973, Kratzer 1981) predicts that logically equivalent antecedents should be substitutable salva veritate. A recent study by Ciardelli et al. (2018) challenges this picture by finding different endorsement rates for counterfactuals of the form in (1a) and (1b) in the same scenario.

1.    a. (not A or not B) > C  
      b.  not (A and B) > C

Ciardelli et al. propose an explanation based on inquisitive semantics, which allows for differences ...

 

The ability to detect non-adjacent dependencies (NADs) in language--such as the dependency between the auxiliary 'is' and the present progressive marker '-ing' in 'the baker is baking bread'--could be extremely useful in language acquisition. It would provide the learner with information about which grammatical elements participate in the dependencies, and would also provide a cue to constituency and hierarchical structure. Yet published behavioral findings contain no evidence that children detect NADs before 15 months ...

 

Psychological experiments and cognitive-science models have grounded an appealing narrative about how the understanding of language arises in infants, beginning with innate perceptual abilities, continuing with "statistical learning" and categorization, and ending with word learning and glimmers of syntax. This story has virtues: longstanding empirical backing, analogues in adults and animal learning, and plenty of computational models. But the story may be wrong, and wrong for interesting reasons, only some of which are properly scientific ...

 

Recently there has been an increase in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics research using naturalistic stimulus following Willems’ (2015) encouragement to probe the neural bases of language comprehension with greater ecological validity. Along with naturalistic stimulus, applying tools from computational linguistics to neuroimaging data can help us gain further insight into real time language processing. In this talk, I will discuss Multiword Expressions (MWEs). From a processing perspective, human sentence comprehension must involve both memory retrieval and ...

 

A workshop on how children develop possibility concepts and acquire modal language. Sponsored by UMD’s Graduate Field Committee in Developmental Science and organized by Mina, Zoe, & Tyler. Check out the schedule and don't forget to register!

Speakers:

 

A standard assumption within psycholinguistics is that the act of speaking begins with the preverbal, conceptual apprehension of an event or state of affairs that the speaker intends to talk about. Nevertheless, the way conceptual representations are formed prior to speaking is not well understood. In this talk I present results from a long-standing, interdisciplinary research program that addresses the nature of conceptual representations, their interface with linguistic semantics and pragmatics, and their role during ...

 

Abstract: Over the last century, the average human lifespan has doubled, rendering the effects of aging on cognition, including language, a vital research topic. Yet the study of the developmental trajectory of language processing has largely focused on comparing linguistic abilities between children and young adults, with less attention being paid to what happens as people grow older. Examining changes in language processing during aging, and what underlies those changes, may also open windows into ...

 

Grammaticalization of the future tense has been one of the most popular topics in grammaticalization theory. However, little has been said so far about the intermediate stages different constructions (e.g. verbs which formerly meant ‘want’ or ‘go') go through before they finally evolve to mark future temporal reference. I focus on the semantic typology of constructions similar to English about to and going to, which I dub, after Comrie (1976), prospective aspect. I am ...

 
 

This study aims to reveal the structure of two different Numeral Classifier (NC) constructions in Korean. First, I show that NC constructions involve massive phrase movement of intermediate projections of a noun phrase. Then, I show that in Korean, there is a restriction on which material within a noun phrase involving NC can be moved. I present a novel argument that this restriction on scrambling follows from a theory of cyclic linearization (Fox & Pesetsky 2005 ...

 

In previous research, we found that English-acquiring children produce medial wh-phrases more frequently when the question is a subject question, like in (1), than when the question is an object or adjunct question, like in (2) and (3), respectively.

  1. Who do you think who kissed the boy?
  2. Who do you think who the boy saw?
  3. How do you think how the boys cut the rope?

If there is a production planning window that includes spec ...

 

The application of allophonic processes across word boundaries (so-called 'sandhi'-processes, such as flapping (cf. De Jong, 1998; Patterson and Connine, 2001) and sibilant assimilation (cf. Holst and Nolan, 1995) in English, or liaison in French (Durand and Lyche, 2008)) is known to be subject to locality conditions. The same processes are also known to be variable. While these two properties have often been observed as characteristic of sandhi (e.g. Kaisse, 1985), existing theories ...

 

For the most part, cognitive psychologists have been interested in understanding capacity-limited processes in human cognition and for good reason. However, recent findings from our lab have demonstrated that there is much to learn about cognition and the brain by focusing on the temporal dynamics of unlimited capacity processes. In this talk, I will present our work on the characterization of one such type of processing: parallel peripheral processing and its role in goal directed ...

 

JULIE SWEETLAND is a sociolinguist and serves as a Senior Advisor at the FrameWorks Institute, where she leads efforts to diffuse the organization’s cutting-edge, evidence-based reframing recommendations throughout the nonprofit sector. Since joining FrameWorks in 2012, she has led the development of powerful learning experiences for nonprofit leaders and has provided strategic communications guidance for advocates, policymakers, and scientists nationwide and internationally. Prior to joining FrameWorks, Julie was actively involved in improving teaching and ...

 
 

This talk investigates how we generalize properties of kinds based on the morphosyntax of their subject. While previous studies have looked at the ambiguity between generic and non-generic interpretations, these experiments focus on the distinct interpretations of various generic subjects of count nouns in English. By focusing on the morphosyntactic features of number and definiteness, these studies take into consideration the linguistic variety that is available for generic subjects of count nouns. Further, they separate ...

 

Simon and Tyler will present stims for a new online experiment aimed at asking whether the meaning of sentences like "every circle is blue" are represented by speakers in terms of the subset relation (the circles are a subset of the blue things) or in terms of the identity relation (the circles are the blue circles).

One reason this is interesting is that conservativity -- a universal property of determiners in natural language -- seems to follow ...

 

Human listeners are better at telling apart speakers of their native language than speakers of other languages, a phenomenon known as the language familiarity effect. Recently the effect has been seen in infants as young as 4.5 months of age.

I will present an overview of current literature on this effect and a quantitative model of why this could be observed in young infants, discussing how this fits with the wider body of work ...

 

Despite perennial interest in positive vs. negative polar questions, there is yet to be a definitive account of asymmetries between them (Buring & Gunlogson 2000, van Rooy & Safarova 2003, Sudo 2013, Trinh 2014, Roelofsen & Farkas 2015, AnderBois 2019).

(1)
a. Is Moira home?        Positive Polar Question (PPQ)
b. Is Moira not home?    Low Negation Question (LNQ)
c. Isn't Moira home?     High Negation Question (HNQ)

In this meeting, I will chart the relevant empirical facts, and ...

 

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. No tickets are required. We will contact graduating students a week or two before the ceremony to ask for information and an RSVP to the ceremony.

 

Christian will talk about studying the neural basis of phoneme processing in continuous speech, focusing on MEG and EEG. Relatively recent methodological developments allow us to deconvolve brain responses associated with various features of continuous, narrative speech. This allows us to study neural processing of speech during natural listening to, for example, an audiobook. After introducing the methods Christian will discuss a few studies relevant for phoneme processing and focus on our recent paper that ...

 

I will use ellipsis to distinguish two types of defective verbs. Data from Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and English will be discussed. I will argue that defectiveness that can be saved by ellipsis have its source in morphophonology (lack of allomorph), whereas defectiveness that cannot be saved have its source in morphosyntax (lack of morpheme).

 

The Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas is an annual linguistics conference, founded in 1995. Its central objective is to bring together formal linguists whose research focuses on the Indigenous languages of the Americas, and experts in language documentation and revitalization. For WSCLA 24 we are pleased to have twelve talks, five posters, and six invited speakers, listed below. The complete program is here.

Invited talks

 
 

I'll present some new data from a study testing infants' wh-question representations. Using a listening preference task, we find that 15-month-olds detect local violations of verb transitivity, but only 18-month-olds behave as if they represent wh-phrases as arguments in wh-object questions. These results support the hypothesis from prior literature that the ability to recognize wh-dependencies develops after verb transitivity knowledge.

 

As social creatures, we spend a lot of time thinking about the mental lives of those around us. Does mental state representation differ across social contexts? We will explore this broad question using approaches from social neuroscience and developmental psychology. In the first part of the talk, we will look at how people deploy theory of mind for cooperation vs competition. In the second part of the talk, we will look at how people update ...

 

Like adults, children parse sentences incrementally. Consequently, they often have difficulty revising their initial parse of a sentence when it turns out to be incorrect. Unlike adults, children have more difficulty recovering from mis-analysis (this is often called the "Kindergarten path effect"). In this talk, I will explore whether differences in child-directed vs. adult-directed speech (as measured by surprisal values at each word in garden path sentences) could help explain the KPE.

 

English and Korean are similar in that both employ two systems with regard to how negative yes/no questions (Y/N-Q) are answered: polarity-based system under which speakers use answer particles otherwise used for affirmative answers to neutral questions and truth-based system under which answer particles confirm/disconfirm the negative proposition. It is widely accepted that the locus of negation, i.e., IP-external Neg vs. IP-internal Neg, plays a crucial role for the interpretation of ...

 

abstract clinic

Meeting

read drafts and provide feedback, for bucld abstracts

 

While Horn (1969) proposed that ONLY(p) presupposes that the ‘prejacent’ p is true, von Fintel and Iatridou (2007) showed that the expected prejacent inference is not observed when a necessity modal occurs in the scope of 'only': ONLY(◻p) may presuppose that p is possible, rather than necessary. What is the mechanism behind the surprisingly weak inference? The approach in von Fintel and Iatridou 2007 is to revise the analysis of 'only' itself to ...

 

read drafts and provide feedback, for bucld abstracts

 

Democracies assume accurate knowledge by the populace, but the human attraction to fake and untrustworthy news poses a serious problem for healthy democratic functioning. This is exacerbated by the fact that political groups are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in decades. Although partisan antipathy accounts for deep rifts on a number of important issues, scientists still know very little about the neurobiological roots of polarization. In this talk, I will articulate ...

 

In this meeting I'll present new computational work investigating how young learners identify movement dependencies in their language. I pursue the hypothesis, motivated by empirical data on syntactic development in infancy (Gagliardi, Mease, & Lidz 2016; Perkins & Lidz, in revision; Perkins & Lidz, in prep), that this learning process is "gap-driven" for languages like English. Learners may use the signal from argument gaps-- arguments that are predicted but unexpectedly missing in their canonical positions-- in order ...

 

I'll present an update for a study testing verb learning in 20-month-old infants. These close-to-complete results speak against the hypothesis that infants expect clause arguments to match event participants in number, and are more consistent with the hypothesis that they rely primarily on links between argument positions and participant roles when inferring verb meanings.

 

Expanding Agreement Domains: Phase Unlocking in Georgian Agreement

This paper provides novel evidence for the claim that Agree can ‘unlock’ phases (Rackowski and Richards, 2005; Preminger, 2011; Van Urk and Richards, 2015). Once phasal boundaries are neutralized, subsequent agreement relations can be established with previously inaccessible arguments. The argument is based on the behaviour of finite agreement in Georgian—specifically, the distribution of the verbal plural marker -t.

 

Mini workshop follow up to the BBI conference "New Perspectives on Animal Models of Language and Cognition"

Noon: Carel ten Cate

Response: Tecumseh Fitch

Commentary and discussion: Xiaoqin Wang, Josef Rauschecker, Yale Cohen, Lori Holt

==========

The linguistic abilities of birds – on speech perception and grammar rule learning

Language is a unique feature of modern humans. One window to address its evolutionary origin is by comparative research, examining whether certain features that make up the language ...

 

The computational neuro-architecture of language has been difficult to characterize. A long-standing excuse for the field’s slow progress as compared to, say, the visual domain, is the lack of an animal model for such a unique human trait. However, over the last 20 years of neuroscience research, we have made enough progress in mapping language functions to reveal close neuro-architectural homologies, not only between human language and systems in non-human primates, but between linguistic ...

 

A speaker of (1) implies that she is uncertain whether (2), making this use of might “epistemic.” On the received view, the implication is semantic, but in this dissertation I argue that it isn’t, any more than the implication that a speaker of (2) believes John to be contagious.

(1) John might be contagious.
(2) John is contagious.

This follows from a new observation: unlike claims with explicitly epistemic locutions, those made with “epistemic ...

 

This talk will introduce the central concepts of my account of toxic speech, drawing from both philosophy of language and social epidemiology. A medical conception of toxicity looks at the toxin, the dose, frequency, route of delivery, susceptibility of the individual or population, and more. All these factors can be fruitfully explored in connection to understanding the mechanisms by which speech acts and discursive practices can inflict harm, making sense of claims about harms arising ...

 

For the third annual Social Justice Day we will have talks and discussion about Language in Pursuit of Social Justice.

The activities will take place in the Language Science Center, 2130 HJ Patterson Hall.

9:00 AM Talks by John Baugh, Susan Ehrlich, Aylin Caliskan

11:00 AM General Discussion

12:30 PM Lunch

 

Spoken language is an inherently ambiguous and variable signal; yet, the human experience is typically one of effortless comprehension. How the brain transforms such impoverished sensory input into a coherent linguistic message is currently unknown. In this talk, I address a bite-sized chunk of this question from the perspective of contextual integration; asking how surrounding phonemes, morphemes and words guide the perception of both proceeding and preceding speech sounds. I present data from a series ...

 

In English and many other languages, only some attitude verbs allow long-distance wh-movement from their declarative clausal complements. It is common to split the class of verbs into two sub-classes, “bridge” and “non-bridge,” such that wh-movement across the first class is acceptable (1) (taken to indicate well-formedness) and wh-movement across the second is not (2).

(1) Who does John say that Mary like __?

(2) *Who does John quip that Mary like __?

Complicating efforts ...

 

We present two pieces of evidence that children's production of questions with medial wh phrases, such as "what do you think what is under the top hat", are the result of issues with performance, not the result of having the wrong grammar. First, such productions are predicted by independent measures of inhibition. Second, such productions are also predicted by children switching the argument structure of the elicited question, a plausible index of taxed executive ...

 

Harris (forthcoming in Mind and Language) defends two familiar claims and argues that they are related in a special way, the first entailing the second. The first claim is that semantic processing is the work of a module encapsulated from general cognition. The second is that the semantic value of an expression must be a constraint on what we could say in uttering that expression, contrary to the standard view of semantic values as contents ...

 

Successfully navigating our complex social world involves at least three abilities: perceiving and interpreting other people’s actions and status in our groups, having emotional responses as a consequence of these perceptions and interpretations, and as needed, being able to exert top-down control over all of the above. This talk will describe the evolution of a general purpose, multi-level, model that helps organize our understanding of the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying these abilities. Towards ...

 

In this talk, we show that children's productions of questions with medial wh phrases, such as "what do you think what is under the top hat", correlate with measures of cognitive inhibition. We take this as evidence for a performance-based account of these productions, not a grammatical-based account.

 

A practice talk for an undergraduate conference about the study PenguinRV. This study examines 14-month-olds use of the verb-event link to learn verb meaning.

 

Workshop of a paper in-progress on epistemic modality.

 

PHLING

Meeting

PHilosophy and LINGuistics reading group.

 

One of the most fascinating aspects of language acquisition is that within a range of "normal" exposure and "typical" development, all children acquire the language in their environment, on a similar timescale. At the same time, the specific input a child gets dictates what she is in principle able to learn: a child who has never seen or heard of kangaroos will not learn the sound or meaning of that word. In this talk I ...

 

Mina:

Young children’s elicited productions of modal words: children differentiate modal “flavors” and forces

Corpus studies (Wells, 1979) and comprehension studies (Hirst & Weil, 1982; Ozturk & Papafragou, 2014) suggest that children have difficulty learning modal words (e.g., ‘can’, ‘must’). This is standardly attributed to conceptual or pragmatic difficulties (Papafragou, 1998; Noveck, 2001). We use a sentence-repair task to show that children’s difficulty arises instead from the many-to-one mapping between modal meanings and forms ...

 

Comparing attitudes and modals

In this meeting, I will discuss my ongoing work on some puzzles that emerge from the interaction between attitude predicates/modals and comparatives. The first puzzle is a cross-linguistic difference between Mandarin and English in comparatives with attitude predicates. In English, belief ascriptions are comparable (1a), but knowledge ascriptions are not. In Mandarin, both can be graded with the morpheme geng, comparing the degrees of certainty assigned to propositions by attitude ...

 

We will continue a discussion of a novel representation in phonology and its possible application to vowel harmony and word tone.

Come if you are interested in the fundamentals of linguistic representations, stipulations vs. expressive power, non-concatenative phenomena in word-formation, long-distance phenomena in phonology, and more.

 

This is a progress report on two of my ongoing language acquisition studies, Long and PaQua.

The first is joint work with Elaine Grolla, and it investigates children's production of medial wh-phrases, such as "who do you think who was really good at soccer?". This study is nearing completion, and I am looking for feedback in how to think about the results and how to analyze them.

The second study, PaQua, investigates English-acquiring children ...

 

Modality Group

Meeting

 

One of the central debates in the language sciences is whether linguistic representations can be divided into those that represent competence, i.e. linguistic knowledge, and those that represent performance, i.e. psychological processes that use that knowledge. Prosody is perhaps unique among linguistic representations in that it conveys information about linguistic structure, the psychological processes that underlie it, as well as emotion and affective information. In this talk, I will present work from my ...

 

This paper investigates how children figure out that functional modals like English must and Dutch moeten 'must' can be used to express different 'flavors' of modality: epistemic, deontic, bouletic, and so on. The existing acquisition literature shows that children produce functional modals with epistemic meanings up to a year later than with root meanings, suggesting that they may initially fail to realize that these modals can express epistemic meanings in addition to root. We conducted ...

 

A number of Mayan languages display optional verbal agreement (Henderson 2008, England 2011). Focusing on novel data from Santiago Tz’utujiil (ST), we demonstrate that this optionality is not reducible to phonological or morphological factors. Rather, the source of optionality is in syntax. Regarding optional agreement, there is a syntactic distinction between external arguments (EA) and internal arguments (IA). Only IAs show optional agreement; EAs in contrast must be indexed for person/number on the ...

 

Consider the difference between the two sentences "Pat didn't remember to water the plants" and "Pat didn't remember that she had watered the plants." Fluent English speakers recognize that the former sentence implies that Pat did not water the plants, while the latter sentence implies she did. This distinction is crucial to understanding the meaning of these sentences, yet it is one that automated natural language processing (NLP) systems struggle to make. In ...

 

I defend and develop the thesis that future talk is modal in character. Informally, this is the idea that future directed statements (e.g.: “the water will boil”) should be modeled after counterfactual statements (e.g. “the water would have boiled if you turned on the stove”) and not as mirror images of past-directed statements (e.g. “the water boiled”). The first part of the talk introduces the thesis and the main arguments that supports ...

 

In this meeting, I'll be talking about the initial results of WHanything. This experiment looks at Mandarin three-year-olds' understanding of the ambiguity of wh-items.

 

After more than two decades of studying the behavior of chimpanzees three themes stand out to me. First, chimpanzees show greater flexibility in their behavior than do monkeys in areas such as information-seeking, confidence monitoring, self-control, and planning for the future. Second, chimpanzees show successes and failures that match human successes and failures of perception and cognition, but chimpanzees also sometimes fail where humans succeed. Third, these successes and failures in cognition in our closest ...

 

Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells is a Research Professor at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), and currently, a visiting scholar at Columbia Zuckerman Institute, Mind, Brain and Behavior. His research focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying language learning. His talk will be devoted to his study of motivation in language learning, which has surprising implications for language teaching and learning. The talk will be given as part of the seminar SLAA 649R: Research Critique ...

 

In various languages, the notional complement to certain attitude verbs is expressed using characteristic morphology of relative clauses -- e.g. Adyghe (Caponigro and Polinsky 2011), Bulgarian (Krapova 2010), Gungbe (Aboh 2005), as well as Nez Perce. The distribution of these "relative embeddings" has a clear affinity for factives. In this talk I investigate the syntax and semantics of relative embeddings with an eye to understanding the connection between relative morphology and factive verbs in particular ...

 

In this meeting, I will discuss the formal analysis of direct/inverse agreement systems proposed by Zubizarreta and Pancheva (2017), who model such systems as a syntax-semantics interface phenomenon, and I will argue for an alternative model that derives the data squarely in the narrow syntax.

Agreement in direct/inverse systems appears to be governed by a ‘person hierarchy’, where agreement morphology co-varies with the highest-ranking argument regardless of its grammatical role. Crosslinguistically, 1st and ...

 

Both definite descriptions and pronouns are often anaphoric; that is, part of their interpretation in context depends on prior linguistic material in the discourse. For example:

(1) A student walked in. The student sat down.
(2) A student walked in. She sat down.

One popular view of anaphoric pronouns, the d-type view, is that pronouns like “she” go proxy for definite descriptions like “the student who walked in”, which are in turn treated in a ...

 

ECO-5 is a regional syntax/semantics graduate student workshop. It rotates between 5 different east coast universities (UMD, UConn, UMass, Harvard, and MIT), and it will be taking place at UMD this year.

More details are available on the website: https://sites.google.com/view/eco-5/home

 

Recent work in philosophy and semantics has raised challenges to truth-conditional theories of epistemic modals. At the same time, a truth-conditional account has remained the dominant view of counterfactuals (with some exceptions). I argue that the challenges raised for epistemic modals generalize to counterfactuals, and encourage a nonclassical treatment of both. I develop a possibility semantics, building on the possibility modal logics introduced by Lloyd Humberstone in the Eighties and recently revived by Wes Holliday ...

 

Adam and Omer will present a proposed experimental design for investigating whether sentences that are rescued by the Principle of Minimal Compliance in Bulgarian are genuinely grammatical.

Sentences such as the following, which are reported as marginal, have been taken to be grammatical (e.g., Richards 1998).

?[Koj žurnalist]_j [koja kniga]_k t_j razprostranjavaše [mȃlvata če senatorȃt iska da zabrani t_k]?
which journalist which book spread rumor that senator wanted to ban
"Which journalist ...

 

How do infants learn their first words in a noisy environment? How do they progress from being slow incremental learners to rapid learners who appropriately generalize categories and concepts from minimal experience. In this talk, I will present evidence that the answer to these questions lies in the structure of the learning environment itself, which is not like that assumed by most theorists of early word learning and not like that used in language learning ...

 

A long-standing idea in the Western philosophical tradition is that our knowledge of the past and present is more secure than our knowledge of the future. Given standard assumptions about the relationship between knowledge and assertion, this would suggest that it is, in general, easier to make assertions about the past and the present than it is to make assertions about the future. I present some cases that seem to suggest just the opposite. In ...

 

There have been numerous discussions about what communication modality bring to the task of building units in signed and spoken languages. In this talk I discuss three kinds of phonological phenomena, and ask to what extent they function identically in both types of language, and to what extent their realization is tailored to the communication modality. None of these examples are individual constraints or rules, but rather abstract mechanisms that describe how phonology coheres as ...

 

It is frequently argued that children are competent with some dimension of language, but their knowledge is being masked by performance limitations. However, in most cases, the evidence for these performance factors is indirect and the specific links between cognitive skills and linguistic forms is vague. The current work examines a well-documented under-extension in children’s language and the cognitive skills that predict children’s performance of it. The linguistic phenomenon involves aspect: children prefer ...

 

Winter Storm 2019

Conference

 

Undergraduates Mariam Aiyad, Carly Egyed, Bekki Kline, Becca Lebovitz, Jordan Schneider, William Simpson, and Cassidy Wyatt are presenting posters on the research projects that they have been working on in the Linguistics Department this semester. Stop by the Language Science Center between 10am and 12pm to see their posters and hear about their work!

 

In the first half of this meeting, Phoebe Gaston will give a practice talk for the LSA, on "How syntactic context affects comprehension: facilitation vs. inhibition."

In the second half of the meeting, Zoe Ovans and Aaron Doliana will continue leading last week's discussion of Hammerly, Staub, & Dillon (submitted; https://psyarxiv.com/6f34y).

 

Frankenduals—that is, duals cobbled together from parts shared with singular and plural—have been a mainstay of linguistic theory since Jeanne's (1978) treatment of the subject in Hopi. The field has followed Jeanne in seeing Frankenduals as supporting a Hale-style (1973) decomposition of the dual into features that combine elements of singular with elements of plural. The field has been much less united in what those features are, what they mean, and how ...

 

In the first half of this meeting, Zoe Ovans and Aaron Doliana will be leading discussion of Hammerly, Staub, & Dillon (submitted), a recently submitted paper about the grammaticality asymmetry in agreement attraction effects. The preprint is available here: https://psyarxiv.com/6f34y

In the second half of this meeting, Hanna Muller and Phoebe Gaston will be giving a practice talk of their upcoming LSA talk, "Gender bias in representation and publishing rates across subfields". A ...

 

Rarely do we utter 'every F' to talk about absolutely every F, or 'some G' to talk about any G whatsoever. But there's no commonly-accepted account of just how speakers manage to use such phrases to talk about more restricted classes of things. After considering and rejecting some earlier suggestions, I offer a novel account of this phenomenon. On my account, speakers bear a relationship of linguistic authority over quantified statements, such that they ...

 

Ellipsis is one of the most pervasive and mysterious aspects of the grammars of natural languages -- theoretically challenging especially in the way that it combines the properties of a discourse-anaphoric process with a sensitivity to the fine grain of morphosyntactic representations. With that much as the larger context, this talk has three particular and interlinked goals:

(1) to provide an overview of the work of the Santa Cruz Ellipsis Project and the research resources that ...

 

I'll be discussing some new computational work that investigates the following question: how do infants identify the ways that movement transformations are realized in their language?

 

The recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) rely on statistical learning techniques applied to large sets of data. In this presentation, we show that AI can also have a scientific impact in (neuro)cognitive sciences, by offering quantitative models of human learning. We examine the case of cognitive and linguistic development in children and show that, here, the relevant algorithms are essentially unsupervised or weakly supervised (i.e. rely mainly on ambiguous and ambiguous sensory ...

 

The meaning of sentences like "every circle is blue" could be represented in speakers’ minds in terms of groups (e.g., the blue things include the circles) or individuals (e.g., for each thing that’s a circle, it’s blue). I’ll present some experimental evidence from adults that sentences with "every" are represented in terms of groups and sentences with "each" are represented in terms of individuals. Then, I’ll show that this ...

 

There has been a debate over the status of the negation-sensitive phrase amwu- in Korean. The most popular position is that ‘amwu-’ is a Negative Polarity Item (NPI) (i.e. Beck and Kim, 1997, Collins and Postal, 2014, Han et al., 2007, Sells and Kim, 2006, Sohn, 1996). However, recently, Yoon (2008) and Tieu and Kang (2014) claim that amwu- is a Negative Concord Item (NCI) based on the NCI diagnostics in the literature (See ...

 

The most influential approach to modals tells us that the force of modals (existential vs. universal) is lexically encoded into its semantics (at least in English) (Kratzer, 1977, 1991). However, there seems to be reasons to doubt this analysis for so-called ability modals (eg. ‘I can see you’). Two sets of facts make identifying the force of ability modals a challenge: first, the meaning of able(p) sometimes seems closer to a necessity (eg. ‘I ...

 

Discussion of a novel representation in phonology and its possible application to vowel harmony and word tone.

Come if you are interested in the fundamentals of linguistic representations, stipulations vs. expressive power, non-concatenative phenomena in word-formation, long-distance phenomena in phonology, and more.

 

In this talk, I will be presenting work on a construction I call "Why-VP" (e.g., Why take Structure of Japanese?). These constructions are incredibly common but have largely avoided syntactic analysis, with the majority of existing work focusing on its interesting semantic and pragmatic properties, whereby the speaker seems to be conveying a preference. I aim to fill this gap by proposing a structure for Why-VP based on empirical observations gathered from the NYT ...

 

The PennController, created by Florian Schwarz and Jeremy Zehr, provides a versatile and user-friendly tool for Ibexfarm to implement more complex experimental task paradigms, with a wide range of dynamic and interactive features (visual stimuli, flexible, multi-stage trial structure, scripted/ timed events, playing audio files, integrating videos).

To attend the event, (1) you should have their own laptop and internet access; (2) have Chrome or Firefox installed on their system (support for Safari is unstable ...

 

I'll present some stims for a new infant study designed to look for precursors of quantificational thought in 9- to 14-month-olds

 

Numerically-quantified expressions are an old puzzle within Slavic linguistics but they could be of interest for anyone working on syntax. We’ll discuss the internal structure of numerically quantified expressions in Polish and their associated morphosyntactic properties such as case and phi features. I will show that these properties interact with the rest of the clause, e.g. by disallowing regular agreement. The account proposed here is an initial but necessary step in explaining the ...

 

Come join us for lunch to celebrate Juan Uriagereka and the publication of Language, Syntax, and the Natural Sciences in his honor.

 

Developmental speech perception research has traditionally focused on explaining development in the monolingual (often English- or French-learning) child. More recently, researchers have started working with more diverse language-learning populations, including children with exposure to more than one language or more than one regional variant of the native language. In this talk, I will examine word recognition in monolingual infants and toddlers with exposure to either one or several variants of the native language. Three questions ...

 

Prominent theories in cognitive and developmental psychology have posited that our perceptual sense of number, time, and space form a singular, domain-general representation. In this talk, I provide extensive evidence to suggest that these perceptual representations are distinct: children and adults show no correlations between number, area, density, time, etc., when domain-general factors such as working memory, response conflicts, and general developmental improvements are controlled for, saccadic trajectories show unique encoding algorithms for number vs ...

 

The Anaphor Agreement Effect (Rizzi 1990, Woolford 1999, a.o.) refers to the crosslinguistic avoidance of anaphors in agreeing positions. Looking only at languages like English, one might get the impression that the AAE is about anaphors resisting the subject position, and therefore, that it is reducible to Binding Theory. However, looking at languages where subjecthood and agreement dissociate (ergative languages, quirky-subject languages), as well as languages with no overt agreement at all (e.g ...

 

Some contemporary theories of numerical cognition posit that a generalized magnitude system may serve as a core primitive foundation for building number concepts. To date, however, these theories have largely privileged whole numbers and whole number analogs, relegating rational numbers to the background. In this talk, I will argue that more explicit attention to nonsymbolic ratio perception can account for the deep connections between whole numbers and other classes of number, while accounting for how ...

 

In this meeting I will present initial directions for my 888 paper, which is intended to be an exploration of what mechanisms UG makes available for long-distance dependencies such as the wh-question "What did Mary suspect (that ...) that Billy ate _?”. I will focus on German wh-questions as they offer an interesting and yet open puzzle. There are three different wh-question dependencies in the language: long-distance wh-movement (1a), partial wh-movement (also known as wh-scope marking ...

 

In this meeting, I'll be talking about the results from PuffinMan, which I collected during the summer in Beijing. This experiment looks at how English and Mandarin children understand belief reports.

 

The Georgian agreement system is infamously complex, exhibiting both subject and object agreement with potentially multiple exponent slots. These agreement patterns fall into two major verbal agreement paradigms: (i) the 'basic', where the prefixes track the object and the suffixes track the subject, and (ii) the 'inverse', where the prefixes track the subject and the suffixes track the object. While there are a number of competing analyses focusing on the basic paradigm, the inverse has ...

 
 

Stereotypes and associated emotions drive discriminatory behavior across numerous consequential contexts. These biases against marginalized social groups have important implications for real-world social decisions, including hiring, voting, health, and housing decisions. Psychologists have traditionally studied how people evaluate different ethnic and cultural groups (and their members) in isolation, but in the real world people commonly make judgments and decisions over sets of people. For example, hiring decisions involve the assessment of multiple candidates at once ...

 

Pieces of idioms can undergo pronominalization and ellipsis, as many have observed (Nunberg, Sag and Wasow 1994; McCawley 1988, Bruening 2015; a.o.). Building on these observations, we discuss a novel paradigm involving anaphoric relations in clausal idioms, where pronominalization of the subject and ellipsis need to co-occur (cf. (1b-d)). We are concerned with two questions: how the idiomatic interpretation becomes available under pronominalization and VP ellipsis (1b), and why there is a co-occurrence restriction ...

 

We'll be critiquing stimuli for a new experiment designed to test children's knowledge of the complex-NP constraint on wh-movement.

 

Despite infants’ immature resolution of pitch and timing, they are surprisingly proficient at holistic processing of pitch and timing patterns. Like adults, they recognize the invariance of melodies across pitch levels and the invariance of rhythmic patterns across tempos. They also exhibit long-term memory for melodies, and their memory is especially detailed and enduring for vocal melodies. In some respects, they are more flexible music listeners and learners than their adult counterparts. Although adults’ musical ...

 

“Ok, robot, make a right and take a picture” – a simple instruction like this exemplifies some of the obstacles in our research on human-robot dialogue: how are make and take to be interpreted? What precise actions should be executed? In this presentation, I explore three challenges: 1) interpreting the semantics of constructions in which verb meanings are extended in novel usages, 2) recognizing activities and events in images/video by employing information about the objects ...

 

The impossibility of voice mismatches in sluicing has proven to be a fruitful empirical domain for the formulation of the identity condition on ellipsis. English data like (1) show that a verb in the active voice cannot serve as the antecedent for a verb in the passive voice inside a sluice. This has led researchers to propose that some syntactic identity is required for ellipsis (Merchant 2013).

(1) Active—Passive mismatch

   *Someone hugged Robin, but ...
 

Fitch (2018) in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences - What animals can teach us about human language: the phonological continuity hypothesis

Progress in linking between the disparate levels of cognitive description and neural implementation requires explicit, testable, computationally based hypotheses. One such hypothesis is the dendrophilia hypothesis, which suggests that human syntactic abilities rely on our supra-regular computational abilities, implemented via an auxiliary memory store (a ‘stack’) centred on Broca’s region via its connections with ...

 

I will present a series of experiments aimed at understanding how listeners process repair disfluencies in real time (e.g., “The woman went to the animal shelter and brought home a dog uh I mean a rabbit.”). Using a visual-world eye-tracking paradigm, we have shown that listeners actively predict the upcoming repair during the “uh I mean” portion of the utterance (i.e., there is a strong tendency for listeners to look at a picture ...

 

In this meeting, I'll be talking about the design and stimuli for a new experiment, which we're calling PaQua, and looking for feedback from you! This experiment looks at English-acquiring children's acquisition of the passive. Particularly, this experiment is designed to test the hypothesis that children's better comprehension of actional passives compared to non-actional passives is a task effect.

 

After 20 years of studying the relation between language and the mental representation of numbers, I’ve come to the conclusion that three things are true. (1) Numbers are unrelated to language; (2) Numbers are related to language in general; and (3) Numbers are related to particular languages. These sound like contradictory statements, but I will explain during my talk how all of them can be true, depending on what one means by ‘language’ and ...

 

High negation questions—questions like "Isn't it nice out?"—necessarily convey that the speaker is epistemically biased, i.e., the speaker has a prior belief about the correct answer to the question. In particular, the speaker necessarily expresses bias toward the proposition embedded under the high negation. Low negation questions, on the other hand, are merely compatible with such a bias, and can be used when the speaker is not epistemically biased. Romero & Han ...

 

This is the seventh in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed prior meetings, there are video recordings, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

This is the sixth in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed prior meetings, there are video recordings, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

This is the fifth in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed prior meetings, there are video recordings, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

This is the fourth in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed prior meetings, there are video recordings, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

This is the third in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed prior meetings, there are video recordings, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

This is the second in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org. In particular, if you missed the first meeting, there is a video recording, which I can share with you if you're interested in catching up.

 

Children can respond to disjunctive sentences in surprising ways. I'll talk about different attempts to understand their behavior and what this behavior tells us about the adult's linguistic competence. Time permitting, I'll also talk about how this fits into a bigger project which asks how to constrain theories of implicature computation.

 

We’ll discuss how surface optionality in verbal plural agreement in Santiago Tz’utujiil (Mayan) informs us about underlying syntactic structures. We’ll show how the systematic investigation of the conditions governing the optionality — grammatical function and animacy — provides a window into nominal and clausal architecture

 

Light refreshments will follow the ceremony, which will likely last about one hour. Faculty and graduates should arrive in 1401 by 10:30am.

 

This is the first in a series of workshop meetings, where I'll be teaching folks how to use the version control software tool git. If you're interested in attending, please email me for details at io@adamliter.org.

 

The literature on the neurobiological correlates of bilingualism is vast. Yet, despite this wealth of knowledge and the worldwide prevalence of bilingualism, comparatively little is known about how being exposed to multiple spoken languages influences how sound is processed by the brain. Over the past decade, the frequency-following response (FFR) has emerged as an important electrophysiological tool for studying individual variability in the neural processing of sound associated with language, as well as music, behaviors ...

 

Phases play an important part in Minimalist theories of locality. But why do phases give rise to locality effects? In this presentation, I discuss a theory recently put forward by Grano and Lasnik (2018) (see also Barros and Frank 2017), which connect locality effects to phi-feature valuation, motivated by bound pronoun subject effects, such as the contrast in More people said {they / *their friends} like Pepsi than Coca-Cola. I sketch revisions to Grano and Lasnik ...

 
9:00-9:30—Breakfast (provided)—
9:30-10:40Hedde Zeijlstra (University of Göttingen)
**Mirroring strong and weak NPIs and PPIs**
10:40-11:00—Coffee Break—
11:00-12:10Theresa Biberauer (University of Cambridge)
**Marked negation: Core insights from the periphery**
12:10-1:30—Lunch—
1:30-2:40Chung-hye Han (Simon Fraser University)
**Using negation as a probe for structure**
2:40-3:00—Coffee Break—
3:00-4:10Ming Xiang (University of Chicago)
**On the processing ...
 

Each year the graduate students of the Linguistics Department of the University of Maryland organize a two-day workshop, Mayfest, focusing on a different aspect of language and linguistic theory.

The topic of this year’s University of Maryland Mayfest is negation, a universal property of natural language. We will bring together a diverse array of researchers – Theresa Biberauer, Emmanuel Chemla, Jon Gajewski, Chung-hye Han, Elena Herburger, Laurence Horn, Ivy Sichel, Ming Xiang and Hedde Zeijlstra ...

 
9:00-9:30—Breakfast (provided)—
9:30-10:40Emmanuel Chemla (Ecole Normale Supérieure - Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique)
**Connected logical meanings**
10:40-11:00—Coffee Break—
11:00-12:10Laurence R. Horn (Yale University)
**Negation and word order in the footsteps of Neg-first**
12:10-1:30—Lunch—
1:30-2:40Jon Gajewski (University of Connecticut)
**It's not syntax, I don't think: Neg-raising and parentheticals**
2:40-2:50—Break—
2:50-4:00Ivy ...
 

Theories of syntactic bootstrapping propose that infants map between their representations of sentences and their representations of scenes in order to infer verb meanings (e.g. Gleitman, 1990). To determine how they do this, we need to first understand how infants represent the sentences they hear and the events they see in the world.

In this talk, I will discuss work in collaboration with Tyler Knowlton, Angela Xiaoxue He, Alexander Williams, and Jeffrey Lidz that ...

 

We'll discuss data from a completed study investigating the structure of infants' event representations, focusing on potentially three-place predicates. Then, we'll discuss two studies investigating whether infants think a transitive clause can describe a 3-place event concept-- one study underway, and one study upcoming. Your feedback is welcome!

 

Karen Feagin (TLPL) “Can I Make a Comment?”: Teacher Candidates in Rehearsals

Abstract: This qualitative study used sociocultural discourse analysis to examine how teacher candidates (TCs) in a language teacher preparation program collaboratively solved problems of practice in teaching rehearsals. This study offers insights into the functioning of peer groups and their potential for co-constructing knowledge, which has implications for grouping learners in ways that maximize learning opportunities.

Neha Joshi (ECE) Cortical mechanisms underlying segregation ...

 

Many recent studies in the developmental psycholinguistics literature have sought to attribute differences in they way children and adults process particular sentences to differences in extralinguistic skills such as cognitive control, as opposed to differences in their underlying mental grammar. Generally, it is believed that having limited cognitive control makes it particularly difficult to revise an interpretation for a given sentence upon encountering late-arriving evidence telling you that your original parse was incorrect. I will ...

 

Epistemic Uses of "Might" and "Likely" Are Only Indirectly So
Authors: Quinn Harr and Alexander Williams

We can reason about what makes modal claims true in terms of the contingencies of their modal domains (cf. (2) as a response to (1), and (4) to (3)). Yet for some apparently epistemic modal claims, this sort of explanation is not available. (4) is an anomalous response to (5), though (6) is not.

(1) Wisconsinites can shoot pigeons ...

 

Pain and emotional distress are realities that affect us all. Preventing, resolving, and sometimes accepting pain and distress motivates many human endeavors, ranging from spiritual practices to medical interventions. Understanding the brain basis of pain and emotion could transform how we understand these fundamental facets of human life, but currently, there are no human brain measures adequate for determining whether one is angry or sad, whether pain is physical or emotional, or whether one is ...

 

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

Recent technological advances have made it possible to train recurrent neural networks (RNNs) on a much larger scale than before. These networks have proved effective in applications such as machine translation and speech recognition. These engineering advances are surprising from a cognitive point of view: RNNs do not have the kind of explicit structural representations that are typically thought to be necessarily for ...

 

A growing body of research has focused on the individuation of roots as fundamentally syntactic or phonological (e.g. Harley 2014 and subsequent replies). In this talk, I provide novel evidence supporting a syntactic analysis of roots. The Nishnaabemwin verbal complex is sensitive to animacy (i.e. gender) in two ways: (i) the plural agreement marker exhibits allomorphy based on the animacy feature of the object, and (ii) root suppletion is triggered by the object ...

 

In this talk, we offer a new take on a family of hierarchy effect-inducing configurations, including (i) PCC effects (Anagnostopoulou 2005), (ii) German copular constructions (Coon, Keine & Wagner 2017), and (iii) Icelandic dative-nominative configurations (Sigurðsson & Holmberg 2008). We draw on the iterative search component of Cyclic Agree (Béjar & Rezac 2009), according to which an articulated probe continues probing if at least some features are left unvalued after an Agree relation (also Deal 2015). Béjar & Rezac ...

 

Everyday behaviors require a high degree of flexibility, in which prior experience is applied to inform behavior in new situations. Such flexibility is thought to be supported by memory integration, a process whereby related experiences become interconnected in the brain through recruitment of overlapping neuronal populations. In this talk, I will discuss our work demonstrating that memory integration relies on hippocampal–prefrontal circuitry and allows for acquisition of new knowledge beyond what we directly experience ...

 

This meeting discusses an on-going research which concerns children's difficulty with the semantic interpretation of additive particles. Previous studies report that Japanese-learning children have difficulty interpreting sentences that contain the additive particle 'mo', often accepting them under context adults would likely reject. However, we have yet to figure out why children make such error. The present research seeks to address this issue by investigating whether or not better experimental design could improve children's ...

 

Hearing is operational from the third trimester of gestation. Infants thus first experience language in the womb. In this talk I will present a series of near-infrared spectroscopy experiments with newborns suggesting that this prenatal experience may already shape how infants perceive and start learning about language. As maternal tissues act as low-pass filters, fetuses mainly experience the prosody of speech, fine details necessary for the identification of words are mostly suppressed. I will show ...

 

JL Austin said that existing is not something that things do all the time. Was he right? Under what conditions has something done something anyway? Perhaps surprisingly, I think that the key to answering this and a host of other questions in metaphysics can be found in a distinction from linguistics, the distinction between "stative" and "non-stative" verbs. Other question that this distinction is relevant to include: under what conditions does an event occur? What ...

 

This meeting will discuss research on children's production of medial wh-phrases in questions with multiple clauses, such as "Who do you think who kissed the boy?". We'll present results from an ongoing study.

 
 

Announced on our day of birth or even months before, sex and gender are perhaps the most central social categories that affect our lives regardless of the society into which we are born. While the study of how we come to understand our own gender and the influence gender has on our lives has been central to the study of human psychology for decades, nearly all research to date has focused on people who experience ...

 

Most words are impossible to define. But for logical vocabulary, there's an embarrassment of riches: we could write down infinitely many good definitions for a given quantifier. This becomes interesting if these possibilities aren't just notational variants but specify distinct hypotheses about what concepts and operations are recruited by a given meaning. In this talk, I'll add to the mounting experimental evidence for a transparent relationship between meanings and the cognitive systems ...

 

Infants seem to understand that others have internal states that underlie observable behaviour. What is their understanding about how these internal states can be updated? Specifically, do infants understand that speech can serve as a tool to update the internal states of others? I'll describe data suggesting they do, and that they also understand some constraints on the updating of internal states.

 

What inferences about verb meanings can infants draw on the basis of hearing them in clauses with non-canonical word orders, such as wh-object questions? I'll present the design of a new study investigating this question in 19 to 21-month-old English learners.

 

Since the ancient Greeks there has been a tension between those who emphasize the similarities between humans and animals, and those who focus on the differences. In this talk I show that modern biology validates, and indeed requires, both perspectives, arguing that human cognition is based on broadly shared building blocks, but also includes several distinctive cognitive characteristics that are either rare or non-existent in non-human animals. I illustrate this perspective with examples from color ...

 

Frequency can often predict when children will acquire linguistic units such as words or phones. An additional predictor of speech development could be a phone’s functional load, or the contrastive work a sound performs in a language. Lexicon-derived phonetic categories, over those purely inferred from distributions in the input, resulted in more robust category acquisition in models of infant learners (Feldman, Griffiths, & Morgan, 2009). So a higher functional load may correlate with early phone ...

 

The learning by gradient descent that occurs when deep learning networks are trained by an omniscient supervisor does not resemble the learning that animals do. The most basic process in animal learning is the storing in memory of quantitative facts extracted from sensory experience by problem specific computations. Because neural nets lack symbolic memory, they do not store quantitative facts (numbers). The second most basic process is the adoption of an appropriate stochastic model. The ...

 

Two taskforces from the Language Science Policy committee present project ideas to address inequalities by connecting research and policy.

Bias in Linguistics: Gender Representation in Academia Bethany Dickerson & Adam Liter (LING)

Dialect Diversity in Higher Education Zach Maher (NACS)

 

Human and non-human animals estimate the probabilities of events spread out in time. They do so on the basis of a record in memory of the sequence of events, not by the event-by-event updating of the estimate. The current estimate of the probability is the byproduct of the construction of a hierarchical stochastic model for the event sequence. The model enables efficient encoding of the sequence (minimizing memory demands) and it enables nearly optimal prediction ...

 

I aim to argue in favor of a phonological representation consisting not of strings, but only of ordered pairs of segments by exploring the additional power conferred by it. One goal is reducing the complexity of the representation by going from strings to directed graphs. In addition to reduplication and infixation which were already explored by Raimy (2000), other phenomena that turn out to easily follow from the additional power of this representation include at ...

 

Acquisition crew meet eachother for new semester, and make some lab decorations together

 

Infants possess remarkable capacities to process complex events and rationally modify hypotheses about them facing inconsistent evidence. These capacities suggest the existence of elementary logical representations for framing and pruning hypotheses, independent of natural language. However, little is known about infants' abilities to reason, let alone reason logically. I will present evidence that when they witness a scene not previously experienced, infants reason about it by applying basic logical principles. I will argue that such ...

 

This meeting will discuss work on infants' acquisition of wh-dependencies before their second birthday. We'll present the results of one completed study, and will provide an update for another new study in progress.

 

(Joint work with Lee Bickmore, SUNY Albany)

Rutooro is a Bantu language of Uganda that lacks lexical tone. Instead, prominence in Rutooro is marked with a High tone (H) on the penultimate syllable of the phonological phrase (φ-phrase). Like many languages in the family, syntactic XPs reliably correspond to φ-phrases; however, we find a previously unattested pattern in the prosody of Rutooro adnominal phrases. Head nouns are marked H when they combine with strong determiners ...

 

There is enormous variability in the language outcomes of children with ASD – from minimally verbal to intact linguistic knowledge. Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in parsing this variability, investigating the relationship between language in ASD and in other disorders, and understanding the developmental progression and neural foundations for language from infancy through adulthood. In this presentation, I will discuss what we currently know about language in ASD taking a developmental ...

 

discussion of Brandt 2010 word order paper

 

By comparing the spontaneous speech of two-year-olds and their parents, we can determine whether, and to what degree, their grammars differ. This talk uses two case studies to argue that two-year-olds and their parents have the same basic grammar. Children are similar to their parents, without directly copying their parents. Children differ from parents in executive functions (like planning and updating) more than in grammar. With respect to basic grammar, I argue that nothing develops ...

 

While we are all experts in experiencing time, introspection often provides us with very little intuitions regarding the neural mechanisms underlying how we perceive time. Over the last decades, research in cognitive neurosciences has shown that different parts of our brain and different neural mechanisms contribute to various mental representations for time perception and cognition. In this talk, I will discuss the idea that be conscious of time is to render intelligible the non-stationarities of ...

 

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Paris Descartes in Paris, France, my research focused on the role of consonants and vowels in lexical processing during infancy. Specifically, I investigated the development of a bias for consonantal information in lexical processing (C-bias; Nazzi, Poltrock, & Von Holzen, 2016) in French-learning infants. The first study examined the preference for consonant or vowel mispronunciations of infants' first name recognition. Both 5- and 8-month-olds preferred listening to a vowel ...

 

Itamar Francez · Love and Happiness

Linguistics Colloquium

(Joint work with Andrew Koontz-Garboden, University of Manchester)

In this talk we make a proposal for what ‘love’ is and for how to derive ‘happiness’. Specifically, building on the theory of property concept nouns advanced in our recent book (Francez and Koontz-Garboden 2017), according to which they denote qualities (a particular kind of mass) , we propose a compositional account of English deadjectival nominalization like happiness, strength, and depth, on which the derivational suffixes are systematically ...

 

Theories of syntactic bootstrapping propose that children can use correlations between the syntax of a sentence and conceptual categories of events they perceive in the world to draw inferences about what event the sentence is describing. In order to characterize those inferences, we as researchers need to be able to identify the conceptual structure under which children view particular events. In this meeting, we'll discuss some new data from a study attempting to diagnose ...

 

We have 4 talks and 4 posters to practice & prepare for BUCLD.
- Laurel, Naomi, & Jeff - Jeff, Alexander, & Laurel - Jan Edwards - Cynthia Lukyanenko - Mina, Aaron Steven White, & Jeff - Laurel & Jeff - Michelle Erskine

 

Classical models of antisocial behavior propose that violence arises out of a failure of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) to “put the brakes” on aggressive impulses originating in subcortical regions such as the amygdala and striatum. A new, alternative model proposes that LPFC does not directly inhibit aggressive impulses, but instead flexibly modulates the value of aggressive acts via corticostriatal circuits. I will present the first empirical evidence directly supporting the alternative model. In a series ...

 

The cognitive neuroscience of language has made only limited contact with syntactic theory, in part because the relationship between grammatical knowledge and neural signals is indirect and often under-specified. This talk describes how neuro-computational models of sentence processing can be used to rigorously link theories of grammar with brain mechanisms. Such models explicitly describe the cognitive representations that are constructed during sentence comprehension, and quantify how such representations modulate measurable brain signals. The talk presents ...

 

I'll be providing an update on a study asking whether infants think particular types of intransitive sentences could be a good fit for an event they perceive as having two participants. Our goal in this study is to test the hypothesis that children expect one-to-one matching between arguments of clauses and participants of events those clauses describe, and to differentiate that hypothesis from alternative accounts of children's behavior in previous studies.

 

Social behavior is often shaped by the rich storehouse of biographical information that we hold for other people. During our daily social interactions we rapidly and flexibly retrieve a host of biographical details about individuals in our social network, which often guide our decisions as we navigate complex social interactions. Even abstract traits associated with an individual, such as their political affiliation, can cue a rich cascade of person-specific knowledge. I will discuss research from ...

 

Recent findings using MEG suggest that the phase reset of neural oscillations encodes hierarchical linguistic structure in the brain. In two experiments, we demonstrate this entrainment manifests regardless of stimulus presentation rate. Our data suggest that further work with EEG could provide insights into the mechanisms that give rise to these effects (e.g. lexical vs. syntactic).

 

When do children parse wh-questions in an adult-like manner? Prior work suggests that infants as young as 19 months can parse sentences incrementally and predictively (e.g. Lidz, White, & Baier, 2017), but recent findings with older children have not found evidence for predictive parsing of wh-object questions until 6 years of age (Atkinson et al., in prep). We'll be presenting preliminary data from 20-month-olds using the same paradigm as Lidz et al. 2017, and ...

 

ModProd: We discuss problems with the sentence-repair task, and potential solutions to those problems.

Mandarin Corpus: We give an introduction and an update on the Mandarin corpus study on how Mandarin-learning children might learn the semantics of modals via syntactic bootstrapping.

 

The infinite generative potential of human language derives from our ability to analyze complex linguistic input into simpler units, store those units in memory, and productively recombine those units into new expressions. This is the cycle of comprehension, acquisition, and production through which human languages persist and change through the history of a speech community. But what are these units of comprehension, acquisition, and production? The tension between combinatorial and holistic representation of complex linguistic ...

 

This project looks at how the quantifiers more and most bias different visual search and memory encoding strategies throughout development. I'll discuss results from both adult and kid experiments.

 

Testing force variability in modals: A word learning experiment

Anouk Dieuleveut

How do children figure out the meaning of modals like “may" and “must"? These words are hard to learn for three reasons. First, the same modal might be used to talk about different 'flavors’ of possibilities (epistemic, teleological, deontic, etc.), as in English. Second, the same modal might be used with either weak or strong force, to make a claim of either possibility or ...

 

Practice talk, take two!

Abstract:

There is a paradox in language acquisition concerning the perception of the input. If learners can veridically parse the input, then there is nothing to learn from it; but if they cannot parse the input, then it is unclear how they avoid faulty inferences about structure, or even learn from it at all (Valian 1990, Fodor 1996). In this talk, I examine how children deal with their input, given only ...

 

A substantial body of evidence suggests that neural activity in the alpha frequency band (8-12 Hz) covaries with the locus of covert spatial attention, such that attention to one visual field yields a sustained decline in alpha power at contralateral electrode sites. In our work, we have exploited this covariation by using an inverted encoding model to reconstruct spatial response profiles (termed channel tuning functions, or CTFs) based on the topography of alpha activity on ...

 

Abstract:

There is a paradox in language acquisition concerning the perception of the input. If learners can veridically parse the input, then there is nothing to learn from it; but if they cannot parse the input, then it is unclear how they avoid faulty inferences about structure, or even learn from it at all (Valian 1990, Fodor 1996). In this talk, I examine how children deal with their input, given only partial knowledge of the ...

 

Discussion of Steedman semantic bootstrapping paper

 

In this presentation, we first introduce the Guatemala Field Station and provide updates on work carried out since last year's inaugural research trip. We then discuss a syntax project on Tz'utujiil Mayan that we developed this past summer. We investigate the optionality of agreement marking on the verb in a limited set of contexts. Instead of providing a technical analysis, we will illustrate the thought process that went behind the data collection and ...

 

How do children acquire a language? Decades of work have provided a roadmap of principles and mechanisms for early language learning as attested by small-scale laboratory tasks. But there is not yet a convincing empirical synthesis of this work that addresses both the systematicity and ubiquity of language learning and the variability of learning trajectories across children. In this talk I will describe some initial steps towards such a synthesis. This research integrates high-density data ...

 

first lab meeting of the semester- introduction, syllabus, and lab decorations

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...
 
 
 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

I'll update the lab about progress on the 3rd man study, which tries to identify events -- like x taking y from z -- that infants view under a 3-participant concept. The ultimate goal is to better understand how learners relate the arguments in a given clause to the participants in the event it describes. And eventually, to give an account of how they use this information to acquire verb meanings.

 

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 ...

 

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.

 

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

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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.

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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, 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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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.

 

"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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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).

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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.

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 
 

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

 

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 ...

 

(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 ...

 

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 ...

 

Chuchu Li · [LSLT]

Lunch Talk

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...