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Flashcards in Language Deck (82):

Define language.

A system of communication using sounds or symbols that enables us to express our feelings, thoughts, ideas and experiences.


Give a brief synopsis of Chomsky's book Syntactic Structures (1957).

He proposes that human language is coded in the genes. According to this idea, just as humans are genetically programmed to walk, they are programmed to acquire and use language.


What is psycholinguistics?

A field concerned with the psychological study of language.


What are the four major concerns of psycholinguistics?

1. Comprehension
2. Speech production
3. Representation
4. Acquisition.


One major concern of psycholinguistics is comprehension. What is meant by this?

How do people understand spoken and written language?


One major concern of psycholinguistics is speech production. What is meant by this?

How do people produce language?


One major concern of psycholinguistics is representation. What is meant by this?

How is language represented in the mind and in the brain? This includes how people group words together into phrases and make connections between different parts of a story.


One major concern of psycholinguistics is acquisition. What is meant by this?

How do people learn language? This includes both children and adults.


NB! Boka jeg har tar ikke for seg acquisition (som er noe av det mest spennende...)



When is it normal for an infant to produce their very first words?

During their second year. Sometimes a little earlier, and sometimes a little later.


What is meant by lexicon?

A lexicon is the term to describe the unit that stores a person's knowledge of what words mean, how they sound and how they are used.


Language can be broken down into smaller units. What are the two smallest units of language?

Phonemes - which refer to sounds, and morphemes, which refer to meanings.


What are phonemes?

A phoneme is the shortest segment of speech that, if changed, changes the meaning of a word.


What are morphemes?

Morphemes are the smallest units of language that have a definable meaning or a grammatical function.


How many phonemes in "rich"?



How many phonemes in "through"?

3 (/th/r/U/)


How many phonemes in "strict"?

6 (/s/t/r/i/k/t/)


How many morphemes are in the word "table"?

Only one.


How many morphemes are in the word "bedroom"?

It has two morphemes. "Bed" and "room".


How many morphemes in the word "tables?"

Two because of the plural s.


What do we know about the perception of spoken phonemes?

Richard Warren (1970) made an experiment that showcased an effect he later would call the phonemic restoration effect. This is the effect observed when a phoneme is removed or masked from a sentence. Subjects identified the word correctly and didn't notice the phoneme was missing.


What do we know about word perception?

It depends a lot on the context of the words. Irwin Pollack and J.M. Pickett (1964) conducted an experiment in which they recorded people's conversations when waiting for the experiment to start, and then played back single words from those recordings. They could only identify half the words, even though they had themselves said them.


What do we know about speech segmentation?

Speech segmentation is the ability to perceive individual words in the continuous flow of the speech signal. We know that it is actually not very common to have clear pauses between words when you speak. It is not easy to identify individual words in a language you don't know.


What do we know about perceiving letters?

We know that letters are easier to recognise or remember when they appear in a word than when they appear alone or are contained in a nonword. This is called the word superiority effect.


What effects are known about our understanding of words?

The word frequency effect and the lexical ambiguity effect.


What is the word frequency effect?

Words vary in the frequency with which they are used in a particular language. High-frequency words are read faster than low-frequency words.


What is lexical ambiguity?

When many words have the same meaning.


What do we know about our perception of lexically ambiguous words?

When a word is used in a sentence, multiple meanings are accessed rapidly, but then the content of the sentence quickly determines the correct meaning.


What is the lexical decision task?

The lexical decision task involves reading a list that consists of words and nonword. Your task is to indicate as quickly as possible whether the word presented is a word or not. The data from this is responsible for our knowledge on "The word frequency effect".


What is lexical priming?

Priming occurs when seeing a stimulus makes it easier to respond to that stimulus when it is presented again. Lexical priming refers to the phenomenon when a lexically ambiguous word is followed by another word with a similar meaning.


Our understanding of ambiguous word comes from context. But also...

Lexical priming. (which is context - no?)


Sentences have two grammatical properties. Which?

1. Semantics
2. Syntax


What is semantics?

Semantics is the meaning of words and sentences.


What is syntax?

Syntax specifies the rules for combining words into sentences.


What is parsing?

The grouping of words into phrases.


How do psychologists study the process of understanding a sentence?

One way is to present sentences that can have more than one meaning. We see that people typically decide on the meaning of a sentence while they are reading it, and thus may have to revise the meaning as well.


What is a garden path sentence?

A garden path sentence is a sentence that leads the reader "down the garden path" ( down a path that seems right, but turns out to be wrong).


Why do garden path sentences work?

We believe it involves parsing, because the meaning of the sentence depends on how the words are grouped into phrases.


Give an example of a garden path sentence.

"The old man the boat,"
The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families.
The horse raced past the barn fell.
Cast iron sinks quickly rusts.


What happens first in parsing, the syntax or the semantics?

There are two views on this:
1. Syntax-first approach to parsing
2. Interactionist approach to parsing.


What is syntax-first approach to parsing?

Some researchers believe that when we parse sentences, we read syntactically first - and semantically second. This seems true for the "garden path" sentences.


What is interactionist-approach to parsing?

The interactionist approach holds that semantics is probably used while reading, just as syntax is. An example is the sentence: "The spy saw the man with the binoculars", which is ambiguous but becomes unambiguous when "spy" is exchanged with "bird". Somehow our knowledge of the meaning of bird causes us to read the rest of the sentence unambiguously.


What experiments have been done on sentence understanding?

Michael Tanenhaus and coworkers (1995) presented participants with objects on a table and gave them instructional sentences while measuring their eye-movements using a portable tracker. (Put the apple on the towel in the box). (mention both one-apple and two-apple conditions and differences)


How would syntax-first approach to parsing predict the results from Michael Tanenhaus and coworkers (1995) study?

The syntax-first approach would predict that, based on the structure of the sentence, the initial interpretation should be that the apple is to be placed on the towel. This does occur in the one-apple condition, but the syntax-first approach also predicts that it should occur in the two-apple condition, because meaning is still determined by the structure of the sentence. The fact that a different result occurs in the two-apple condition means that the listener is taking both the syntactic information in the sentence and information provided by the scene into account.


One way of understanding text and stories is by way of ...

making inferences - determining what the text means by using our knowledge to go beyond the information provided by the text.


Mention a study that suggests we use inferences to create meaning in stories.

Branford and Johnsons's (1973) memory experiment had people read sentences and then check their comprehension. The text: "John was trying to fix the birdhouse. He was pounding the nail when his father came out to watch him and help him do the work." does not mention a hammer, but when later asked if the sentence "John was using a hammer to fix the birdhouse.." was the one previously read, most participants were convinced this was the case.


What would be the opposite of making inferences when understanding text and stories?

To only understand and remember it literally.


We distinguish between different types of inferences that are made when understanding text and stories. Which?

1. Anaphoric inference
2. Instrument inference
3. Causal inference


What is anaphoric inference?

Inferences that connect an object or person in one sentence to an object or person in another sentence are called anaphoric inferences.


Give an example of an anaphoric inference.

"Riffifi, the famous poodle, won the dog show. She has now won the last three shows she has entered." It is not specified that Riffifi is a female, or that Riffifi is the subject "she" in the second sentence - this is only inferred.


What do we know about how we do anaphoric inference?

The textbook only mentions anecdotal evidence: sentence structure (kind of like sentence syntax), and prior knowledge. "There are lots of ponds and I take the kids out and we fish. And then, of course, we grill them". Syntactically, this might cause us to think the children are being grilled - but our prior knowledge causes us to think otherwise.


What is instrument inference?

Inferences about tools or methods are instrument inferences.


Give an example of an instrument inference.

"William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet while he was sitting at his desk". We imagine that Shakespeare was using a quill, and that his desk was wooden. Neither are specified.


What is causal inference?

Inferences that the events described in one clause or sentence were caused by events that occurred in a previous sentence are causal inferences.


Give an example of causal inference.

"Sharon took an aspirin. Her headache went away". We infer from this that the headache went away because of the aspirin, although it doesn't say so.


One way of understanding how people understand stories is to look at how people bring their knowledge to bear to infer connections between different parts of a story. Another approach to understanding how people understand stories is to ..

An approach to understanding how people understand stories is to consider the nature of the mental representation that people form as they read a story. This is called the situation model approach to text comprehension.


What is the idea behind the situation model approach to text comprehension?

This approach proposes that the mental representation people form as they read a story does not consist of information about phrases, sentences, or paragraphs; instead, it is a representation of the situation in terms of the people, objects, locations, and events that are being described.


What exactly is the "mental representation of what the text is about"?

One way to think of this is that we are simulating the text in our mind.


What evidence is there for the proposition that we simulate the text in our mind?

In Robert Stansfield and Rolf Zwaan's (2001) study, participants read a sentence that described a situation involving an object, and were then asked to indicate as quickly as possible whether or not a picture shows the object mentioned in the sentence. One sentence was: "He hammered the nail into the wall/floor", and the image was of a horisontal or vertical nail. Because the pictures both show nails and the task was to indicate whether the picture shows the object mentioned in the sentence, the correct answer was "yes" no matter which nail was presented. However, participants responded "yes" more rapidly when the picture's orientation matched the situation described in the picture.


Which other studies than Robert Stansfield and Rolf Zwaan's (2001) sentence-picture study, have been done on the idea what we use simulations in our mind to perceive the meaning in text?

William Horton and David Rapp's (2003) study which tested the idea using a story which branched in two conditions. Both groups were asked the same question about the text they had read. In the blocked condition, the story describes Melanie's mother as being in front of the TV. In the unblocked condition, the story described Melanie's mother as being behind the TV. The results indicate that the reaction time to answer a question about something happening on the screen is slower for the blocked condition.


Researchers have tried using fMRI to increase our understanding of how people comprehend stories. What results have this yielded?

Although we must be very sceptical in any conclusion about brain activity because these data are difficult to analyse, it looks as if there is a tendency for different content to produce different responses in the brain that are not exclusive to typical language-areas, but also motor areas.


Mention two types of coordination typically seen in conversations.

1. Semantic coordination
2. Syntactic coordination


What is meant by semantic coordination?

People take into account what knowledge their conversational partner has on the topic they are conversing about. Havilland & Clark (1974) coined a term "given-new contract" which states that the speaker should construct sentences so that they include two types of information: given information (already known) and new information.


What is syntactic coordination?

When two people exchange statements in a conversation, it is common for them to use similar grammatical constructions. This is probably due to a priming effect (syntactic priming) where upon hearing a statement with a particular syntactic construction the likelihood if you producing a sentence with the same construction is heightened.


What studies have been done on syntactic priming?

Holly Branigan and coworkers (2000) illustrated syntactic priming by having and experimenter describe pictures of actions ("the girl gave the boy a book"), and have the participant pick a picture and describe it. 78% of the trials had the participant's description match the form of the experimenter's priming statements. NB! This experiment was checked out and I critique its method: no control group and only 24 subjects from the same university.


Does what language you speak influence cognition?

Jonathan Winnower and coworkers (2007), compared the way Russian-speaking and English-speaking participants discriminated between different shades of blue. Russian language has two different words for the colour blue, based on its shade. The hypothesis would be that they would be more trained in perceiving differences between different "blues". This effect was found.

Also: Audrey Gilbert and Coworkers (2006) conducted an experiment with a colour wheel: the participant's task was to indicate as quickly as possible, which side contained the "odd" colour. Results of the experiment showed that the reaction time was faster when the "odd" colour was on the right side. We know that, among many other things, language is mainly processed by the left temporal lobe.


Hva er fonetisk raffinementsteori?

Vi starter med analyse av auditive sanseinntrykk og går videre til høyerordens prosessering. Hvert fonem matches mot ord vi har hørt før. WIP


What is the TRACE model?

TRACE is a connectionist model of speech perception, proposed by James McClelland and Jeffrey Elman in 1986.[1] TRACE was made into a working computer program for running perceptual simulations. These simulations are predictions about how a human mind/brain processes speech sounds and words as they are heard in real time.(source: wiki)


Hva er Voice onset time? (VOT)

Tiden fra starten av uttalen av en konsonant og til vibrasjonen i stemmeleppene som setter i gang vokalen etter konsonanten.


Har "ba" lang eller kort VOT?



Har "pa lang eller kort VOT?



Hvorfor er voice onset time relevant?

VOT korrelerer med opplevelsen av en stemt eller ustemt konsonant.


Hva er McGurk-effekten?

Deltagere ser en video av en person som sier "ba", men lydfilen som er lagt oppå er av en person som sier "ga". McGurk og MacDonald (1976) fant at man da hører en tredje lyd "da".


What is the motor theory of speech perception?

According to the motor theory, we use the movements of the speaker's vocal tract to perceive what he says. Thus, the listener uses specialized processes involved in producing speech to perceive speech. In fact, there is substantial overlap between the parts of the cortex that are involved in speech production and speech perception.


What evidence is there for the motor theory of speech perception?

Moettoenen & Watkins (2009) had participants listen to continuous acoustic signals while being stimulated with transcranial magnetic stimulation to impair the motor cortex's lip representation. Participants had a much harder time distinguishing between speech sounds that involved the lips or tip or the tongue in their articulation (e.g., "ba" and "da"). However, differentiation between sounds that do not involve lip articulation (e.g., "ka" and "ga") was not impaired. These findings support that notion that motor parts of the cortex are not only involved in the production of speech but also in speech perception.


In 1957, Noam Chomsky revolutionized the study of what?



In 1957, Noam Chomsky revolutionized the study of syntax. How?

He suggested that to understand syntax, we must observe not only the interrelationships among phrases within sentences. Additionally, we have to consider the syntactical relationships between sentences. Specifically, Chomsky observed that particular sentences and their tree diagrams show peculiar relationships.


Cognition (Sternberg & Sternberg) identifies four different processes that may be impaired in dyslexia. Which?

1. Phonological awareness
2. Phonological reading
3. Phonological coding
4. Lexical access


Cognition (Sternberg & Sternberg) identifies four different processes that may be impaired in dyslexia. One is phonological awareness. What is it?

Phonological awareness, which refers to awareness of the sound structure of spoken language. A typical way of assessing phonological awareness is through a phoneme-deletion task. Children are asked to say, for example, "goat" without the "-t". Another task that is used is phoneme counting.


Cognition (Sternberg & Sternberg) identifies four different processes that may be impaired in dyslexia. Phonological reading is one of these. What is it?

Phonological reading, which entails reading words in isolation. Teachers sometimes call this skill "word decoding" or "word attack." For measurement of the skill, children might be asked to read words in isolation. Individuals with dyslexia often have more trouble recognizing the words in isolation that in context. When given context, they use the context to figure out what the word means.


Cognition (Sternberg & Sternberg) identifies four different processes that may be impaired in dyslexia. Phonological coding is one of these. What is it?

Phonological coding in working memory. This process is involved in remembering strings to phonemes that are sometimes confusing. It might be measured by comparing working memory for confusable versus non-confusable phonemes. For example, a child might be assessed for how well he or she remembers the string t, b, z, v, g, versus the string o , x, r, y , q. Most people will have more difficulty the the first string, but individuals with dyslexia will have particular trouble.


Cognition (Sternberg & Sternberg) identifies four different processes that may be impaired in dyslexia. Lexical access is one of these. What is it?

Lexical access refers to one's ability to retrieve phonemes from long-term-memory. The question here is whether one can quickly retrieve a word from long-term memory when it is seen.