Language use and understanding
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Language Use and Understanding. BCS 261 LIN 241 PSY 261 CLASS 6: EFFECTS OF DISFLUENCY ON REFERENCE COMPREHENSION. What are the cognitive processes of reference comprehension?. …the apple…. …thee uh apple…. Everyone is disfluent. ok, give the gray squirrel a blue umbrella.

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Language Use and Understanding

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Language use and understanding

Language Use and Understanding

BCS 261

LIN 241

PSY 261

CLASS 6: EFFECTS OF DISFLUENCY ON REFERENCE COMPREHENSION


What are the cognitive processes of reference comprehension

What are the cognitive processes of reference comprehension?

…the apple…

…thee uh apple…


Everyone is disfluent

Everyone is disfluent

ok, give the gray squirrel a blue umbrella

  • About 6% of speech is disfluent

    • Um, uh

    • Repeats, repairs

    • “thee” for “the”

    • Pauses

    • Elongations

    • Pitch contours

ok, take, ok, give, give the bl- the gray squirrel a blue umbrella


Most comprehension research ignores disfluency

Most comprehension research ignores disfluency

  • Laboratory speech

    • Sanitized

    • Scripted

    • Fluent

ok, give the gray squirrel a blue umbrella

  • Disfluency not “core” language

    • Discussion Question: Why not? (MR)

    • At best: irrelevant

    • At worst: a source of processing difficulty


Why study disfluency

Why study disfluency?

  • Disfluency is ubiquitous

  • Disfluency is systematic

  • It therefore provides a unique window onto language processing

    • Does expectancy affect reference comprehension?


How does disfluency affect language comprehension

How does disfluency affect language comprehension?


How does disfluency affect language comprehension1

How does disfluency affect language comprehension?

  • Me: … the battery’s really low. Can you hand me thee um -

  • Dana: yeah


Language is ambiguous

Language is ambiguous

  • Point to that animal.

  • Point to it.

  • Point to the camel…with a red bow.

  • Point to the camel.


Language use and understanding

  • Can listeners use expectancy to facilitate language comprehension, given temporary indeterminacies?

  • How do listeners integrate information from various sources?

    • Lexical information

    • Discourse context


Many information sources can facilitate reference resolution

Many information sources can facilitate reference resolution

  • Each piece of information can be

    • PARTIAL

    • PROBABILISTIC

  • How might this make the comprehension system more efficient?


Disfluency is systematic

Disfluency is systematic

  • Disfluency indicates production difficulty

    • “thee” likely to be followed by:

      • Pause

      • Repeat

      • Um / Uh

Theee, um, ...

(Clark & Wasow, 1998,

Fox Tree & Clark, 1997)


Given new fundamental for language

Given/New fundamental for language

  • GIVEN: “…. the ball. Give me the ball.”

  • NEW: “…. the ball. Give me the bat.”

  • Language structure codifies information structure

  • Given before new in production(e.g., Arnold, Wasow, Losongco, & Ginstrom, 2000)

  • Given more accessible in comprehension

    • Pronouns (e.g., he, she, it)

    • Definite noun phrases (e.g., the ball, the bat)

      (e.g., Chafe, 1976; Clark & Sengul, 1979; Dahan et al., 2002)


Disfluency more likely for nps with new referents

Disfluency more likely for NPs with new referents

  • GIVEN: “…. the ball. Give me the ball.”

  • NEW: “…. the ball. Give me thee uh bat.”

    (Arnold & Tanenhaus, to appear;

    data from Arnold, Wasow, Losongco & Ginstrom, 2000)

Does disfluent speech make new objects more expected?


Discussion q

Discussion Q

  • Is there a possibility that, as adults, we are naturally predisposed toward disfluent speech in order to allow our children the opportunity to realize that we are providing new information (prime them, such as was mentioned in the article), and to give them a small amount of extra time to construct a memory for the newly acquired information? (Jessee Blake)


Language use and understanding

EXPERIMENT 1Does disfluency lead comprehenders to expect reference to a new object?

“Put the grapes below the camel. Now put the-”

Off-line task:

What is the speaker likely to mention next?


Language use and understanding

Context:

Put the grapes below the camel.

Short instructionLong instruction

FluentNow put --Now put the--

DisfluentNow put --Now put thee uh --


Language use and understanding

Context:

Put the grapes below the camel.

Short instructionLong instruction

FluentNow put --Now put the--

DisfluentNow put --Now put thee uh --


Exp 1 results

Exp. 1 Results

  • Disfluency makes reference to new objects more expected

  • Does disfluency also affect the on-line processes of reference comprehension?


Language use and understanding

EXPERIMENT 2Does disfluency create an on-line bias toward new objects?

Put the grapes below the camel.Now put theee, uh candle above the salt shaker.


Language use and understanding

Trials

1

2

3

4

5

Time

200 ms

Percentage of looks

Time

Percentage of Looks over Time

Target = camel

Competitor = candle

Unrelated = salt shaker grapes

Click on the camel.


Given vs new cohorts

GIVEN target

NEW target

Given vs. New cohorts

  • Put the grapes above the camel.

  • Now put the CA….

(Dahan, et al. 2002)


Fluent given bias

Disfluent- new bias?

  • Put the grapes above the camel.

  • Now put thee, uh CA….

Fluent- given bias

  • Put the grapes above the camel.

  • Now put the CA….

(Dahan, et al., 2002)


Language use and understanding

Comprehension Study Methods

  • Instructions recorded by experimenter

  • Subjects told they were recorded by another subject

    • Disfluencies sounded natural

    • Lexical retrieval was a plausible source of disfluency


Language use and understanding

Experiment 2 design & predictions

FLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

FLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .


Language use and understanding

Experiment 2 design & predictions

FLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

FLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .


Language use and understanding

Experiment 2 design & predictions

FLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

FLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .


Language use and understanding

Experiment 2 design & predictions

FLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

FLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put the CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / GIVEN

Put the grapes above the camel.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .

DISFLUENT / NEW

Put the grapes above the candle.

Now put thee uh CAMEL . . .


Language use and understanding

camel…

candle…

camel…

candle…

Context: “Put the grapes above the camel.”

New cohort

Given cohort

unrelated


Language use and understanding

Context: “Put the grapes above the camel.”

New cohort

Given cohort

unrelated


Discussion question

Discussion Question

  • Is it not possible that the disfluencies gave the participants more time to think and therefore let their eyes wander to the new objects whereas in the fluent case they had no time for such meandering? (Nicole Dobrowolski)

  • Is the difference in difference between discourse-old and discourse-new stimuli in this experiment basically related to the idea of frequency in lexical items? (i.e. candle 'appears' more in common English than camel) (Anthony Shook)


Exp 2 conclusions

Exp. 2 conclusions

  • Disfluency affects reference comprehension

    • 200 msec after onset of target

    • Combines with lexical information

  • Disfluency eliminates/reverses given bias


Why does disfluency create a bias toward new objects

Why does disfluency create a bias toward new objects?

  • New objects are harder to refer to

Theee, um, ...

Aha! This speaker is having trouble!


Does disfluency create biases to other types of referents

Does disfluency create biases to other types of referents?

Known objects

Novel objects


Experiment 3 does disfluency cause a novel bias on line

EXPERIMENT 3Does disfluency cause a novel bias on-line?

Click on the red …

Click on thee uh red…


Language use and understanding

EXPERIMENT 3 DESIGN

  • FLUENT: Click on the red …

    • KNOWN… ice cream cone.

    • NOVEL… funny squiggly shape…

  • DISFLUENT: Click on thee uh red …

    • KNOWN… ice cream cone.

    • NOVEL… funny squiggly shape…


Language use and understanding

unrelated

looks

known

looks

novel looks


Exp 3 competitor looks 200 600 msec after onset of color word

Exp. 3: Competitor looks 200-600 msec after onset of color word


Exps 2 3 summary

Exps. 2-3 summary

  • Fluency information affects on-line reference comprehension

  • Disfluency introduces biases

    • NEW objects

    • NOVEL objects


Discussion questions

Discussion Questions

  • Do these findings possibly happen because of our ability to use top-down processing and our previous experience with everyday speech through speaking and listening? (Jessica DeSisto)


Language use and understanding

  • What would happen if the disfluency occurred within a different part of speech, such as the noun or a verb in a sentence? Are these effects of disfluency on language comprehension and the expectancy hypothesis only observed when a definite article is disfluent? (Beth Riiina)

  • What would be the effect on resolution of longer disfluencies, according the the results of this paper? (e.g. my friend uses "whats its face" whenever searching for a word). Would the paper even have anything to say about it, or does the sheer length of certain phrases influence the resolution too much? (Anthony Shook)


Language use and understanding

  • I realize that the article summarized the finding that disfluent speech leads us to new information, rather than given-is it that the disfluent speech allows for a moment to search your memory for the information that is being presented, and if you do not have a memory for it, you then build one? Or does the subject, when presented with disfluent speech, automatically look to the new information without hesitation? (Jessee Blake)


Language use and understanding

  • Does anyone feel that these findings could be useful in programming a computer to comprehend everyday speech? Would these findings aide in our own understanding of language comprehension, increasing our ability to program a computer to understand human speech errors? (Jessica DeSisto)


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