Multi factorial choices in speaking
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MULTI-FACTORIAL CHOICES IN SPEAKING. Andrej A. Kibrik (Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences) [email protected] CHOICE. As people speak, they constantly make choices There are several (partially overlapping) types of choices involved. Unique choice.

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MULTI-FACTORIAL CHOICES IN SPEAKING

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Multi factorial choices in speaking

MULTI-FACTORIAL CHOICES IN SPEAKING

Andrej A. Kibrik

(Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences)

[email protected]


Choice

CHOICE

  • As people speak, they constantly make choices

  • There are several (partially overlapping) types of choices involved


Unique choice

Unique choice

  • Choosing a lexical item to describe one’s own emotion

    I am glad (OKhappy, ??joyful, *amused) you are willing to attend our workshop


Prompted choice

Prompted choice

  • Language prompts its speakers to focus on certain aspects of meaning that must be expressed in this or that way

  • Example: if a language has the category of number, each noun in discourse must be specified for number, even if that is not particularly relevant


Prompted choice1

Prompted choice

  • Language prompts its speakers to focus on certain aspects of meaning that must be expressed in this or that way

  • Example: if a language has the category of number, each noun in discourse must be specified for number, even if that is not particularly relevant

  • Cf. Jakobson’s notion of grammatical category and Slobin’s “Thinking for speaking” framework


Forced choice

Forced choice

  • Some linguistic elements require other linguistic elements

  • Example:

    • verb V in language L requires a direct object

    • even there is no semantic need to use an overt object NP the speaker inserts a dummy element there

      If you don’t have a ticket, you should get one

      cf. RussianEsli u vas net bileta, vam nuzhno kupit’ __


Probabilistic choice

Probabilistic choice

  • differs from any of the listed types

  • is very little acknowledged in linguistics

  • there always exist some borderline situations in which more than one option can be used


Features of probabilistic choice

Features of probabilistic choice

  • the speaker chooses between two or more options from a fixed repertoire

  • the choice cannot be reduced to one factor governing it but depends on multiple factors

  • various factors interact in a certain way and give rise to a cumulative resultant decision

  • the choice is cognitively motivated: it can be linked to a higher-order cognitive function


Example 1 referential choice full noun phrase vs pronoun

Example 1. Referential choice: full noun phrase vs. pronoun

  • In Cheney's narrative, Russia was a blooming democracy during the 1990s, but in recent years it has turned into a sinister dictatorship where people live in fear. In castigating Vladimir Putin, Cheney believes that he is speaking for the Russian masses. He fancies himself as Reagan at the Berlin wall. Except he isn't. Had Cheney done his homework and consulted a few opinion polls, which are extensive and reliable in Russia, he would have discovered that Putin has a 75 percent approval rating, about twice that of President Bush.

    Newsweek, May 29, 2006


Example 1 referential choice full noun phrase vs pronoun1

Example 1. Referential choice: full noun phrase vs. pronoun

  • In Cheney's narrative, Russia was a blooming democracy during the 1990s, but in recent yearsit has turned into a sinister dictatorship wherepeople live in fear. In castigating Vladimir Putin, Cheney believes that he is speaking for the Russian masses. He fancies himself as Reagan at the Berlin wall. Except he isn't. Had Cheney done hishomework and consulted a few opinion polls, which are extensive and reliable in Russia, he would have discovered that Putin has a 75 percent approval rating, about twice that of President Bush.

    Newsweek, May 29, 2006


Referential choice

Referential choice

  • overwhelming character (40 out of 89 words)

  • multiple factors

    • distance to prior mention

    • role of prior mention

    • animacy

    • ………….

  • cumulative effect leading to a resultant choice

  • overarching cognitive domain: activation in the speaker’s working memory

  • probabilistic


Referential choice is probabilistic

Referential choice is probabilistic

  • In Cheney's narrative, Russia was a blooming democracy during the 1990s, but in recent years it has turned into a sinister dictatorship where people live in fear. In castigating Vladimir Putin, Cheney believes that he is speaking for the Russian masses. He fancies himself as Reagan at the Berlin wall. Except he isn't. Had Cheney done his homework and consulted a few opinion polls, which are extensive and reliable in Russia, he would have discovered that Putin has a 75 percent approval rating, about twice that of President Bush.

    Newsweek, May 29, 2006


Example 2 finite vs non finite predicate form in karachay balkar

Example 2. Finite vs. non-finite predicate formin Karachay-Balkar

  • men…bar-a-ma,

    Igo-Pres-1Sg

  • birincikUnbar-a-madaqaSXataw-Ra,

    firstdaygo-Pres-1SgandQashxataw-Dat

  • qal-a-makecezuwuq-lar-ybyz-da.

    stay-Pres-1Sgnightrelative-Pl-1Pl-Loc

    I start off, on the first day go to Qashxataw, stay overnight with our relatives

FINITE VERB FORMS


Example 2 finite vs non finite predicate form in karachay balkar1

Example 2. Finite vs. non-finite predicate formin Karachay-Balkar

  • …eSekanyeSt-xen-lej,

    donkeyhimhear-Pf-Compar

  • …qulaq-lar-y-ndaturRuz-up,

    ear-Pl-3-Accanderect-Conv

  • …ijgi…ajaqal-yp,

    welllegsgather-Conv

  • …terkqatycaf-Xal-lajtebre-gen-di.

    faststrongrun-Pf-Comparbegin-Pf-3

    As soon as the donkey heard it, he erected his ears, speeded up, and started running very fast

NON-FINITE VERB FORMS


Finite vs non finite clause form

Finite vs. non-finite clause form

  • overwhelming character in narrative

  • multiple factors

    • purely temporal vs. causal-temporal connection to the next event

    • position in the chain of events

    • ………….

  • cumulative effect leading to a resultant decision

  • overarching cognitive domain: cognitive connectedness, affiliation with a higher order event

  • probabilistic


Clause form choice is probabilistic

Clause form choice is probabilistic


Example 3 direction of pitch in accent russian rising vs falling

Example 3. Direction of pitch in accent (Russian): rising vs. falling

  • ..(0.3) Посмотрели мы этот /концерт,

    We watched that /concert,

  • ..(0.1) куда-то \пош-шли.

    (and) went \somewhere.

  • ...(0.6) Тут ..(0.3) ээ(0.3) ..(0.4) мы встречаем мою /маму с папой,

    Then … we meet my /mom with my dad,

  • ...(0.6) \откуда-то,

    from \somewhere,

  • ...(0.9) и ' ..(0.3) мы ' ..(0.4) куда-то \поехали.

    and we started for some \place.


Direction of pitch in accent

Direction of pitch in accent

  • overwhelming character

  • multiple factors

    • whether the discourse unit in question is the terminal one in an illocutionary act or ‘sentence’

    • if yes, which illocutionary meaning it bears

    • if not, what pitch direction is projected for the nuclear accent of the following EDU

    • whether the current EDU is in the mainline of discourse or is a postpositional addendum (elaboration) to the previous EDU

    • ………….

  • cumulative effect leading to a resultant choice

  • overarching cognitive domain: the hypercategory of ‘phase’, or ‘transitional continuity’; the role of the current discourse unit in the on-line communicative flow of discourse

  • probabilistic


Direction of pitch in accent is probabilistic

Direction of pitch in accent is probabilistic

  • ...(0.6) Тут ..(0.3) ээ(0.3) ..(0.4) мы встречаем мою /маму с папой,

    Then … we meet my /mom with my dad,


Direction of pitch in accent is probabilistic1

Direction of pitch in accent is probabilistic

  • ...(0.6) Тут ..(0.3) ээ(0.3) ..(0.4) мы встречаем мою \маму с папой,

    Then … we meet my /mom with my dad,

  • If this kind of online correction is possible, this demonstrates that there is a zone in which a decision on the choice is fairly hard to arrive at.


Further features of multi factorial probabilistic choices

Further features of multi-factorial, probabilistic choices

  • Can be very quick

  • Routinized

  • Hardly consciously made

  • But very efficient and very important:

    • lack of the ability to perform aforementioned choices would mean a real aphasia

  • Don’t have to be discrete, can be continuous


Role of choice in language

Role of choice in language

  • Grammar can be viewed as a system guiding various linguistic choices

  • I find it surprising that the notion of choice is not salient in discussions of language production


Questions for interdisciplinary discussion

Questions for interdisciplinary discussion

  • Is the notion of ‘choice’ important to other cognitive domains besides language?

  • Is the notion of choice useful for the general enterprise of cognitive science?

  • Cf. behavioral analogs of linguistic mini-choices:

    • braking or accelerating in driving

    • using right or left hand when reaching for an object

    • order of biting and supping during a meal

  • In psychology, ‘choice’ and ‘decision making’ are mostly discussed in the context of complex cognitive processes that involve reasoning


Occasional usage in psychology

Occasional usage in psychology

  • “For example, a boxer facing an opponent who can attack with the left or right fist must make a fast decision about what to do. In situations like this, the ‘choice’ reaction time is substantially longer, mainly reflecting the increased processing demands associated with selecting and programming the appropriate action.”

    (Jos J. Adam and Martinus J. Bueckers. Action. In: Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. London: Nature Publishing Group. 2003. Vol. 1, pp. 14-20).


Concluding suggestions

Concluding suggestions

  • Speech, and behavior in general, are full of making choices

  • It is important to explore the types of choices and their characteristic properties

  • Particularly interesting are multi-factorial choices as they present a big challenge to our explanatory models

  • A theory is necessary of how the relevant factors interact and how their differential weights give rise to a resultant net effect


Making the right choice is important

Making the right choice is important


Sometimes it is really probabilistic

Sometimes it is really probabilistic


But not making a choice can even be lethal

But not making a choice can even be lethal

Buridan’s ass


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