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PSY 369: Psycholinguistics. Language Comprehension: Propositional meaning. Propositions. A mouse bit a cat bit (mouse, cat). Good memory for meaning but not for form How do we represent sentence meaning? Propositions Two or more concepts with a relationship between them. Propositions.

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psy 369 psycholinguistics

PSY 369: Psycholinguistics

Language Comprehension:

Propositional meaning

propositions
Propositions

A mouse bit a cat

bit (mouse, cat)

  • Good memory for meaning but not for form
    • How do we represent sentence meaning?
      • Propositions
        • Two or more concepts with a relationship between them
propositions1
Propositions

A mouse bit a cat

bit (mouse, cat)

  • Good memory for meaning but not for form
    • How do we represent sentence meaning?
      • Propositions
        • Two or more concepts with a relationship between them
  • Can represent this within a network framework
meaning as propositions

mouse

agent

cat

patient

relation

bit

Meaning as Propositions
  • Propositions
    • A set of conceptual nodes connected by labeled pathways that expresses the meaning of a sentence
      • A mouse bit a cat

or

      • A cat was bitten by a mouse
deriving propositions

Past

Eat

subject

subject

relation

relation

relation

time

Bread

Slow

Children

Cold

Deriving Propositions
  • More complex example:
    • Children who are slow eat bread that is cold
      • Slow children
      • Children eat bread
      • Bread is cold
evidence for propositions
Evidence for Propositions
  • Memory better for sentences with fewer propositions
  • “The crowdedpassengerssquirmeduncomfortably”
    • passengers crowded
    • passengers squirmed
    • passengers uncomfortable

Three propositions

  • “The horsestumbled and broke a leg”
    • horse stumbled
    • horse broke leg

Two propositions

evidence for propositions1
Evidence for Propositions
  • Bransford & Franks, 1971
  • Constructed four-fact sentences, and broke them down into smaller sentences:
    • 4 - The ants in the kitchen ate the sweet jelly that was on the table.
    • 3 - The ants in the kitchen ate the sweet jelly
    • 2 - The ants in the kitchen ate the jelly.
    • 1 - The jelly was sweet.
evidence for propositions2
Evidence for Propositions
  • Bransford & Franks, 1971
  • Study: Heard 1-, 2-, and 3-fact sentences only
  • Test: Heard 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-fact sentences (most of which were never presented) and noncase sentences
evidence for propositions3
Evidence for Propositions
  • Bransford & Franks, 1971
  • Results:
    • the more facts in the sentences, the more likely Ss would judge them as “old” and with higher confidence
    • Even if they hadn’t actually seen the sentence
  • Constructive Model: we integrate info from individual sentences in order to construct larger ideas; emphasizes the active nature of our cognitive processes
priming propositions
Priming Propositions
  • Ratcliff and McKoon (1978)

“The mausoleum that enshrined the tsar overlooked the square.”

  • Involves two propositions:
    • P1 [OVERLOOK, MAUSOLEUM, SQUARE]
    • P2 [ENSHRINE, MAUSOLEUM, TSAR].
priming propositions1
Priming Propositions
  • Ratcliff and McKoon (1978)
  • Results in a cued memory task (how long does it take to verify “square” was in the sentence:
alternative representations
Alternative Representations
  • Propositions are symbolic
    • Problems:
      • The referential problem
      • The implementation problem
      • The lack of scientific productivity
      • The lack of a biological foundation
  • Alternative
    • Embodied representations (e.g., Barsalou; 1999; Glenberg, 1999)
embodiment in language1
Embodiment in language
  • Embodied representations
    • Perceptual and motor systems play a central role in language production and comprehension
    • Theoretical proposals
      • Linguistics: Lakoff, Langacker, Talmy
      • Neuroscience: Damasio, Edelman
      • Cognitive psychology: Barsalou, Gibbs, Glenberg, MacWhinney
      • Computer science: Steels, Feldman
embodiment in language2
Embodiment in language
  • Embodied representations
    • Perceptual and motor systems play a central role in language production and comprehension
  • Words and sentences are usually grounded to perceptual, motoric, and emotional experiences.
  • In absence of inmediate sensory-motor referents, words and sentences refer to mental models or simulations of experience.
embodiment in language3
Embodiment in language
  • Embodied representations
  • Brain activity
    • Comprehension and images
    • Concrete words
    • Action words activate motor representations
slide17

Simulation hypothesis

We understand utterances by mentally simulating their content.

  • Simulation exploits some of the same neural structures activated during performance, perception, imagining, memory…
  • Linguistic structure parametrizes the simulation.
    • Language gives us enough information to simulate
inference in comprehension
Inference in comprehension
  • Not all propositions come from the bottom-up
    • Elaboration - integration of new information with information from long term memory
      • Memory for the new information improves as it is integrated
    • Inferences - a proposition (or other representation) drawn by the comprehender
      • From LTM, not directly from the input
inference in comprehension1
Inference in comprehension
  • Bransford, and colleagues (1972, 73)
  • We draw inferences in the course of understanding new events.
  • The inferences get encoded into our memory of the events.
    • e.g., drawing inferences of instruments
inference in comprehension2
Inference in comprehension

John was trying to fix the birdhouse. He was looking for the nail when his father came out to watch him and to help him do the work.

  • Bransford, and colleagues (1972, 73)

John was using the hammer to fix the birdhouse when his father came out to watch him and to help him do the work.

inference in comprehension3
Inference in comprehension

John was trying to fix the birdhouse. He was looking for the nail when his father came out to watch him and to help him do the work.

  • Bransford, and colleagues (1972, 73)

John was using the hammer to fix the birdhouse when his father came out to watch him and to help him do the work.

was not mentioned in the text, but was inferred

what does language do
“Harry walked to the cafe.”

“Harry walked into the cafe.”

CAFE

CAFE

What does language do?

A sentence can evoke an imagined scene and resulting inferences:

  • Goal of action = atcafe
  • Source = awayfrom cafe
  • cafe = point-like location
  • Goal of action = inside cafe
  • Source = outside cafe
  • cafe = containing location
embodied inferences
The scientist walked into the wall.

WALL

Bonk!!

Embodied inferences

The hobo drifted into the house.

Thesmoke drifted into the house.

summing up
Summing up
  • Insert summary here