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Cognitive Psychology C81COG 1. Language

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1 Cognitive Psychology C81COG 1. Language
Dr Jonathan Stirk

2 Summary of lectures 6 lectures 1. Psycholinguistics
2. Word recognition & reading 3. Memories in reading 4. Iconic memory & reading (Sensory memory) Categorical memory 5. Structures & processes 6. Representation of meaning

3 Useful Books Harley, T. (2001). The psychology of language: from data to theory (2nd Ed). Hove: Psychology Press. Underwood, G. & Batt, V. (1996). Reading and understanding. Oxford: Blackwell. Eysenck, M. (2001). Principles of Cognitive Psychology. Hove: Psychology Press. Eysenck, M and Keane, M. (2000). Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook. (4th Ed). Hove: Psychology Press. Payne, D. & Wenger, M. (1998). Cognitive Psychology. New York: Houghton-Mifflin.

4 Further reading For further information see Chapter 2 of Trevor Harley’s book

5 Why should we study language?
Language is a unique form of abstraction, which is at the heart of cognition Language has a major impact on the form of representation of information in memory Language influences perception, from which we obtain the basic data for cognition

6 Why Should Psychologists Study Reading?
Studies suggest that there is a large proportion of dyslexics within the prison system At start of 2003, approx 72,500 inmates. Estimates of dyslexics : % (>12,500) Dyslexics lacking appropriate support from early years of education, may lead to: poor literacy and numeracy skills poor employment prospects all of which play their part in the climate of offending lack of confidence and low self esteem boredom, disaffection frustration, anger behavioural problems All of these factors may affect the development of criminal behaviour Reducing dyslexia may contribute to reducing the prison populations!

7 Some questions about the psychology of language
Q1. How do we produce sentences we may never have heard? A1. By using generative rules (PSG) Q2. How do these rules govern the meaning of a sentence? A2. By translating underlying meanings into surface structures Q3. What else does a psychology of language need to explain? A3. How we use language (Pragmatics) PSG- Phrase structure grammar

8 Psycholinguistics ‘The study of the psychological processes of language’ Understanding language (comprehension), producing language, remembering language, reading, speaking, writing Psycholinguists divide language into domains/aspects: Semantics Syntax Pragmatics Phonetics Phonology Morphology Semantics – study of meaning (of words and sentences) Syntax - Study of language structure (word order) Pragmatics - the study of language use in natural social settings/social context (intended meaning) – he gave her a ring wedding versus phone conversation Phonetics – the study of raw sound Phonology – how sounds are used within a language (basic speech sounds) Morphology – the study of the units of words (morphemes)

9 Sentences, syntax and semantics Language Comprehension
How do we understand and construct sentences? We have the ability to understand / produce sentences which we may never have heard or used before How do we assemble a representation of the MEANING of a sentence? Word order is important in determining meaning SYNTAX Psycholinguistics is concerned with the structure & processing of language Representation can be verbal ie speech production or written Most of this info refers to reading and speech (but not all) Semantics is the study of the meaning of words both individually and within sentences

10 Examples of how syntax effects meaning
The boy chased the dog. The dog chased the boy. The dog was chased by the boy. Boy the dog chased the. Sentences 1 and 2 have the same word order structure (article noun verb article noun) but have different meanings Sentences 1 and 3 have different word order structure but have the same meaning Sentence 4 contains the same words as 1 & 2 but makes no sense! (not grammatical) Same syntax Same meaning Chomsky was interested in how one could capture the underlying similarity in meaning (semantics) of some sentences which had different structures (syntax) e.g. 1 & 3 Clearly word order has some implications for the meaning of a sentence. However, there must be more to meaning than just word order as 1 & 3 have different word order but SAME meaning.

11 Grammar & Parsing Word order is determined by rules of grammar
Phrase Structure Grammar (PSG) THE CAT ATE THE MOUSE article noun verb Noun phrase Verb phrase What determines word order? A grammar is a formal device which using the combination of a finite number of rules can generate all the sentences of a language. Once words have been recognised, we can assign them to syntactic categories. Analysis of grammatical structure (assigning words to syntactic categories or verb, adverb etc) is called PARSING. Chomsky proposed phrase structure grammar which is a hierarchical structure with sentences being composed of smaller units, and combined using REWRITE RULES. Units are words which are categorised as NOUNS, VERBS, ADJECTIVES, etc Verb is a ‘doing word’. Words combine to make PHRASES, phrases combine to make CLAUSES. Article = DETERMINER Rule 1. S = NP + VP; Rule 2. NP= article + noun; Rule 3. VP = verb + NP

12 Parsing – Parse Tree Det Adj Noun Verb Noun Phrase
Sentence Noun Phrase Verb Phrase Det Adj Noun Verb Noun Phrase Det Adj Noun The aging professor taught the sleepy students. Parse Tree structure When we are reading, we use the process of PARSING to break-down the sentence Parsing allows us to determine the Subject (what the sentence is all about) & Object of a sentence. Building the parse tree allows us to begin to build a semantic representation (understand the meaning) of a sentence. Det = article i.e. “the” A noun phrase can replace a noun in a sentence e.g the professor, the aging professor, the boring old professor Subject Verb Object

13 PSG Re-write Rules Rule 1 S = NP + VP Rule 2 NP = DET + (ADJ) + N
Rule 3 VP = V + NP Rule 4 DET = a, an, the … Rule 5 ADJ = aging, sleepy … Rule 6 N = professor, students… Rule 7 V = taught, lectured ….. We can use the same re-write rules to construct other sentences (see next slide) e.g. the old woman ate the jammy doughnut

14 Creating new sentences
We can use these rules to create new well-formed sentences “The elephant drank the water” “The woman understood the joke” However, parsing may not be as easy as one would think when it comes to AMBIGUOUS PHRASES S-V-O structure , subject verb object word order – 75% languages use this order, not Japanese or Welsh! Parsing difficulty varies according to the type and complexity of a sentence. Some phrases are ambiguous – that is their meaning is unclear due to difficulties assigning elements to a syntactic category

15 Ambiguity She bit into the doughnut with relish!
Much research on PARSING has focused on sentences that are ambiguous. Example of SYNTACTIC CATEGORY AMBIGUITY – is relish a noun or adjective here? The meaning of the word RELISH is unclear!!!!!!!!!!!! Other types of ambiguity include STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY (see next slides) ‘relish’ as adjective ‘relish’ as noun Syntactic category (lexical) ambiguity

16 Structurally Ambiguous Phrases
Structure 1 S N NP V VP Adj. This sentence has STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY- difficult to form a representation of what it means. Difficult to create an appropriate parse tree (2 possibilities of the tree) Adjective describes a noun, so in this case it is the students who are themselves very exciting Subject and object of the sentence are unclear until we see the complete parse tree Another: “they are cooking apples” THEY ARE EXCITING STUDENTS

17 Phrase structure grammar helps untangle ambiguity
NP VP V Aux. S Aux = an auxiliary is a special verb, in this case some people are getting the students excited. Other example: “the shooting of the lecturers was terrible” or “Visiting relatives can be a nuisance” Understanding PSG and correct parsing may helps us untangle some ambiguity (structural) but not all forms of ambiguous statements (e.g.. The doughnut example earlier). e.g. Lexical ambiguity “He was continually bothered by the cold” THEY ARE EXCITING STUDENTS

18 Investigating Parsing & Unit Size
Click displacement studies Garrett, Bever & Fodor (1966) Spoken sentence presented to 1 ear with headphones Click presented in other ear at some point in the sentence Aim is to report at what point the click appeared Major syntactic\processing units should resist interruption and hence the position of the click should be displaced (migrate) from its’ actual position THAT HE WAS HAPPY WAS EVIDENT FROM THE WAY HE SMILED Click displaced to right to end of a clause So when we are presented with written text, or spoken language, we begin the process of parsing to try and extract the meaning of that text. But, we can ask what parts of a sentence parsing acts upon. i.e What are the constituent units of parsing? Speech over headphones into one ear, at certain points in sentence clicks given in the other ear Click at * in other ear, click migrated to end of “HAPPY” even when perceptual cues removed (pauses intonation etc) Suggests that the CLAUSE is a major perceptual unit Click displacement technique very controversial

19 Investigating Parsing & Unit Size
However, one has to perceive, parse, understand, remember & respond Demands are high, and displacement could occur at any of these stages really Reber & Anderson (1970) used ‘subliminal’ clicks Listeners asked to guess where the non-audible clicks were Displacement occurred as in Garrett et al (1966) study Suggests that displacement may occur in the RESPONSE stage Phrase structure grammar is real but click displacement is not a good demonstration of it Original interpretation is a bit premature: Task is very complex: perceive, parse, understand, remember & respond Reber & Anderson – told subjects there would be a click (but there wasn’t, told it was an investigation into subliminal perception – asked to guess where they thought the click was in the sentence/phrase). Displacement was same as Garrett et al’s findings. Suggests that displacement may occur in the RESPONSE stage, participants are intuitively aware of constituent boundaries and have a response bias to put clicks here.

20 PSG has trouble with meanings
Phrase structure grammar rules however allow us to produce meaningless yet grammatically correct sentences COLOURLESS GREEN IDEAS SLEEP FURIOUSLY Adj. Verb Adv. Noun Noun Phrase Verb Phrase Ugly biology students groan considerably Ageing university lecturers die painfully ARE MEANINGFUL PSG explains how we can construct well-formed sentences but doesn’t encompass semantics! We can produce meaningless sentences using PSG! Also refer back to 3 sentences at start where 2 had diff syntax but SAME meaning

21 PSG has trouble with Related Sentences
The vampire chases the ghost. The ghost is chased by the vampire. These sentences are clearly related in meaning but PSG fails to capture this meaning. This is where Transformational Grammar steps in Phrase structure rules do not specify how a sentence can be modified to form a different sentence with same meaning Both sentences are related in meaning but PSG tells us nothing about that relatedness in meaning So PSG is useful at producing well-formed sentences but doesn’t encompass information about the ‘relatedness’ of sentences. This is where Chomsky proposed a new set of rules which he called Transformational grammar Passivization transformation used here

22 Transformational Grammar
Noam Chomsky influential during the linguistic period of the 60’s & 70’s Competence & Performance Competence is our knowledge of language in general & the rules of language (linguistics) Performance refers to our actual use of the language we know. Our ability to actually follow the rules at any specific time (psycholinguistics) He developed the idea of transformational grammar to help explain the role of meaning in sentence production Distinction between competence and performance Competence- ability to recognise grammatical sentences Actual performance may be limited by cognitive factors, Faults & pauses etc reflect performance issues rather than competence.

23 Transformational Grammar
Special set of re-write rules which act on a string of symbols (Unlike PSG rules which act on single units) Active to Passive: “John eats the food” -> “John ate the food” Statement to questions: “This is a cat” -> “Is this a cat?” etc. Transformational grammar is a set of SPECIAL RE-WRITE RULES (transformations) which can transform sentences into other related sentences PSG creates an active sentence and then this is transformed to a related sentence using TG rules.

24 Transformational Grammar
Sentences have surface structure and deep structure (s- and d-structure) Surface structure – grammatical form (written or spoken) Deep structure – meaning 1. The shooting of the lecturers was terrible (SS) Derived from: 2. The way in which the lecturers shoot was terrible (DS1) OR 3. It was terrible that the lecturers were shot (DS2) Transformed to: Transformational Grammar is a set of rules which help transform/map the surface structure of sentences to the deep structure and vice versa We start with the deep structure in our minds (created using PSG rules) and convert to surface structure which is the written or spoken form Transformational grammar rules transform the deep structure to a surface structure (written or spoken form) In sentence 1 , subject and object are unclear – there are 2 possible deep structures 1 Ambiguous surface structure, 2 & 3 deep structures are clear STRUCTURAL AMBIGUITY IS RESOLVED AT THE DEEP STRUCTURE LEVEL

25 Transformational Grammar
Chomsky argued that sentences (written or spoken) are generated by the operation of transformational rules on a deep-structure representation generated by phrase-structure rules (grammar), resulting in a surface-structure representation PSG → Deep structure →TG →Surface structure

26 Transformational Grammar
Jonathan is easy to please Jonathan is eager to please It is easy to please Jonathan It is eager to please Jonathan * *(non-grammatical) Harley, T (p. 39) Similar surface structures But different deep structures Transform using same rule Sentences are very similar but relationship between Jonathan and please is very different in these two sentences Subject and object not always easy to work-out Relationship between words in sentence: Subject-verb-object 1 & 2 have same surface structure (grammatical structure) but different deep structures (meanings) In 1 ‘Jonathan’ is the deep structure object of ‘please’ In 2 ‘Jonathan’ is the deep structure subject of ‘please’ Transform using transformational grammar to deep structure – cant apply the same rule to sentence 2. hence must have diff deep structures.

27 Pragmatics The study of the INTENDED meaning of language / sentences.
E.g. We may say “wonderful weather!” on a rainy day E.g. We may say “wonderful weather!” on a rainy day, yet it is understood by the listener that this is an ironic statement. Pragmatics goes beyond the simple or literal meaning of language.

28 A psychology of language must account for performance in language use
A. MEMORY PERFORMANCE LIMITATIONS The man ran. ^ The man the dog bit ran. The man the dog the girl owned bit ran.   ^ The man the dog the girl who fed the cat owned bit ran. [This is a self-embedded (centre embedded) sentence] All sentences are grammatical and follow correct syntax but become more difficult to understand due to limitations of memory. Additional clauses inserted make it difficult to know what is referring to what. These sentences are still grammatical and we could probably determine that given time and maybe some paper. The cognitive constraints reflect the distinction between COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE mentioned earlier.

29 A psychology of language must account for performance in language use
B. SOCIAL CONTEXT INFLUENCES SENTENCE PRODUCTION / MEANING (Pragmatics) e.g. "Can you pass the salt?" e.g. Sergeant to Soldier: "Do you see that cigarette butt?“ C. DIFFERENCES IN THE JUSTIFICATION AND VERIFICATION OF SENTENCES Compare: "This is a language lecture" With: "Life is an empty dream" B. Social influence of context: Can you pass the salt does not require a yes or no response. It is really a demand requiring action and is not meant literally. C. Same syntax but different meanings. Produced in different contexts (justifying versus verifying)

30 A psychology of language must account for performance in language use
D. PRODUCTION OF NON-GRAMMATICAL SENTENCES You: “Time for a drink?” Me: “Trying to give it up” You: “Please yourself” E. PERCEPTION - PRODUCTION VARIATIONS PERCEPTION: recognition of words, their relations and the theme of the incoming message PRODUCTION: translation of an idea (Deep Structure) into a form (Surface Structure) which will both capture the intended meaning and be recognizable. Hesitations reflect planning of the translation process. D. It is possible to produce non-grammatical sentences which can still be understood and responded to with perhaps equally ungrammatical structures. E. There is also a difference between the perception of language and the production of it. Speech errors, hesitations etc reflect the planning of the translation process

31 A psychology of language must account for performance in language use
F. STYLE AND SKILL "It was the man with the red nose" "Was it not the man with the red nose?" G. METAPHORICAL & POETIC USE OF LANGUAGE Question: "Where are my chocolates?" (hesitation) Answer: "Ah where are the snows of yesteryear?“ Question: "Is Mrs Thatcher a good politician?" Answer: "She has good taste in hats" Statement: Adolf Hitler was a Butcher Statement: David kicked the bucket! F. Personal style effects language production/use. 2nd sentence is a more old fashioned style but means the same as the first G. Metaphor/Poems: When one thing means something else. The context helps us understand the non-literal meaning.

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