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SYNTAX 4 DAY 33 – NOV 13, 2013 Brain & Language LING 4110-4890-5110-7960 NSCI 4110-4891-6110 Harry Howard Tulane University.

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Presentation on theme: "SYNTAX 4 DAY 33 – NOV 13, 2013 Brain & Language LING 4110-4890-5110-7960 NSCI 4110-4891-6110 Harry Howard Tulane University."— Presentation transcript:

1 SYNTAX 4 DAY 33 – NOV 13, 2013 Brain & Language LING NSCI Harry Howard Tulane University

2 Course organization The syllabus, these slides and my recordings are available at If you want to learn more about EEG and neurolinguistics, you are welcome to participate in my lab. This is also a good way to get started on an honor's thesis. The grades are posted to Blackboard. 11/16/11Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 2

3 REVIEW 11/16/11Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 3

4 Linguistic model, Fig. 2.1 p /16/11Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 4 Discourse model Syntax Sentence prosody Morphology Word prosody Segmental phonology perception Segmental phonology perception Acoustic phonetics Feature extraction Segmental phonology production Segmental phonology production Articulatory phonetics Speech motor control INPUT Sentence level Word level

5 Ambiguity What does ambiguous mean? In linguistics, it means having more than one meaning. This is different from vague or not clear. We have already mentioned lexical ambiguity. bank 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 5

6 SENTENCE COMPREHENSION AND SYNTACTIC PARSING Ingram I, §13 On-line processing, working memory and modularity 11/16/11Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 6

7 A part-of-speech or morphological ambiguity (22) Flying planes can be dangerous. a. [ NP [ Adj flying] [ N planes]] can be dangerous b. Flying planes are dangerous. c. [ NP [ VP [ V flying] [ NP planes]]] can be dangerous d. Flying planes is dangerous. 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 7

8 My favorite attachment or syntactic ambiguity [note that this is the 2 nd example on the recording] One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What an elephant was doing in my pajamas, I'll never know. I [[shot an elephant] in my pajamas] I shot an [[elephant] in my pajamas] 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 8

9 A diagram of the difference 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 9 S NP I VP PP in my pajamas V shot NP an elephant S NP I VP V shot NP Det an N elephant PP in my pajamas

10 Minimal attachment principle Avoid unnecessary embedding (i.e. attach an element as high in the tree as possible). Now let's look at a lot more examples. 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 10

11 Another attachment ambiguity Ingram's first example (21) the house on the hill by the sea What is by the sea? a. the house on the [[hill] by the sea] b. c. the [[house on the hill] by the sea] d. Which reading did you get first? 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 11

12 A diagram of the difference 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 12 NP Det the N house P on NP PP Det the NP PP by the sea N hill PP by the sea NP Det the NP N house PP on the hill

13 More examples of ambiguous sentences Paraphrase how you understand this sentence: (25) John told the girl that Bill liked the story. (26) John told the girl something – namely, that Bill liked the story. = sentential complement reading John told the girl [ S that Bill liked the story] (27) John told the story to the girl that Bill liked. = relative clause reading John told the girl [ S that Bill liked] the story 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 13

14 A diagram of the difference 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 14 S NP John VP V told NP the girl S that Bill liked the story S NP John VP V told NP the story Det the N girl S that Bill liked

15 Testing minimal attachment Paraphrase how you understand these sentences: (28) Joe carried the package for Susan. a. Joe carried [the package for Susan] b. Joe carried [the package] [for Susan] (29) Joe included the package for Susan. a. Joe included [the package for Susan] b. Joe included [the package] [for Susan] Which of these obey minimal attachment? 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 15

16 Attachment of for Susan 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 16 S NP Joe VP V carried / included NP the package PP for Susan S NP Joe VP V carried / included NP Det the N package PP for Susan

17 A different kind of problem 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University The old man the boat. 2. The man whistling tunes pianos. 3. The cotton clothing is made of grows in Mississippi. 4. The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families. 5. The author wrote the novel was likely to be a best- seller. 6. The tomcat curled up on the cushion seemed friendly.

18 What does it mean to lead someone down the garden path? The Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms says that the negative connotation of ‘leading someone down the garden path’ is “based on the idea that a path in a garden is very pleasant, so someone who is brought along it can be deceived without noticing it.” 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 18

19 The second most famous sentence in linguistics The horse raced past the barn fell. Ingram pp has an extensive discussion of this sentence. Please read and mull over it. Unfortunately, he does not relate all the details that he discusses to the neuroscience of sentence processing. So let’s consider this chapter/section? finished and go on. 11/11/13Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 19

20 NEXT TIME Continue with Ingram §13, On-line processing, working memory and modularity 11/16/11Brain & Language - Harry Howard - Tulane University 20


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