Presentation on theme: "1 An introduction to the cognitive psychology of language These lectures tie into Groome chpt 8 – 9 (pp. 215-260) Recommended reading: Chapters 12-14 of."— Presentation transcript:
1 An introduction to the cognitive psychology of language These lectures tie into Groome chpt 8 – 9 (pp. 215-260) Recommended reading: Chapters 12-14 of Eysenk, M.W., Keane, M.T. (1995) Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook. Hove, UK.: Psychology Press Chapter 9 of Martindale, C. (1991) Cognitive psychology: A neural-network perspective. Pacific Grove, CA.: Brooks/Cole
2 Language vs. Communication Many animals communicate –Call for danger, signal where food is, etc –Ravens have individual names for their mates Linguists: Only humans have language –Much more than just communication –Pinker: bids have a flying instinct, humans have a language instinct What sets language apart from communication?
3 1.Language consists of arbitrary semantic symbols Rabbit Conejo Usagi Kanninchen Cuniculus “look at this”lobster “grab hold of this” Arbitrary symbols Descriptive symbols
4 2.The units of language are discrete It is my book. Es mi libro. Ore wa hon desu. Es ist mein Buch. The axis of the bee’s dance shows the direction to the food source Discrete Continuous
5 3.Language has displacement Talk about stimuli which are not present “The yellow elephant eats dancing peanuts.” 4.Language is productive Produce novel utterances which can be understood (see the elephant sentence!) 5.Language is iterative Stick sentences together using conjunctions, as many as you like. Grow sentences from the end “I like eating pizza and drinking coke and swimming in the sea and watching TV and listening to jazz and flying kites and …..”
6 Language is recursive –You can make longer sentences by embedding clauses to replace words –Grow sentences from the middle The elephant eats peanuts The elephant, who is yellow, eats peanuts The elephant, who is a mild sort of yellow, eats peanuts The elephant, who is a mild sort of colour similar to mustard, eats peanuts …..
7 Rules and objects Words carry meaning on their own Semantics – the meaning of words on their own (eg. Rabbit means a small fuzzy creature that eats carrots) Sentences only carry meaning if the words are arranged in a particular order Rules of correct word arrangement are called syntax
8 Syntax is just a convention English has a subject-verb –object (SVO) syntax –‘the boy kicked the dog’ –‘Newspapers will print the report’ Japanese has a subject-object-verb (SOV) syntax –‘the boy dog kicked’ –‘Newspapers the report print will’
9 Chomsky & Syntax Noam Chomsky realized that language must consist of a set of general rules –Otherwise, how do you deal with new, unfamiliar sentences? The purpose of these rules is to prevent speaker from generating ungrammatical sentences To discover the syntax of a language, linguists show speakers sentences and ask if they are correct –‘eat the boy the hotdog.’ –‘The man hit the elephant.’
10 Surface & deep structure Chomsky (1956) argues that sentences have meaning at two levels –Surface level – includes the semantic information –Deep level – only the syntax information (“universal grammar”) –Same structure on a level can lead to different sentences Same at deep level, different at surface level The emu enjoys eating teddy bears. The emu hates watching Oprah. Same at surface level, different at deep level The emu ate the teddy bear. The teddy bear was eaten by the emu.
11 Parsing sentences Decoding the syntax of a sentence is parsing During parsing, no note is taken of semantic meaning –This makes it possible to parse nonsense sentences “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously” –This property allows for ambiguity to creep into language
12 Parsing ambiguous sentences The big ones are shooting fish Mod.VerbNoun Noun PhraseVerb Phrase The big ones are shooting fish Mod.VerbNoun Noun PhraseVerb Phrase
13 Resolving ambiguity Ambiguity arises from the fact that the deep structure of both interpretations is the same –NP+VP –But semantically they are very different! –To resolve the ambiguity we need more information to select a surface structure that fits This shows that parsing is done before semantic interpretation Also, parsing is independent of semantic analysis:
14 Sentence transformations Syntax gives us transformation rules –Convert from one type of sentence to another English (question formation): –Subj. Vrb. Obj. -> Aux. Subj. Vrb. Obj. –“I ate the apple.” -> “Did I eat the apple?” Japanese (question formation): –Subj. Obj. Vrb. -> Subj. Obj. Vrb. [ka]. –“Ore wa ringo o tabemashita.” -> “Ore wa ringo o tabemashita ka.”
15 Exceptions to transform rules Most transformations have ‘exceptions’ –Times when the rule is not followed –Eg. Conjugation of ‘to be’ – it is an exception in almost every language I type, you type, she types, we type, they type, you(pl) type. RULE: I, you, she +s, we, they, you(pl) BUT NOT: I be, you be, she bes, we be, they be, you(pl) be
16 Why exceptions? Exceptions make it harder to learn languages – so why? –Languages have evolved to be spoken, not to be learned. Exceptions seem to occur in the most common verbs! (to be, etc) –Deriving the rule takes time (and effort) –If it’s a common verb, then you will waste a lot of effort deriving it each time –Much easier to store it –To prevent the rule interfering with retrieval, make the exceptions extremely different from the derived version