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langston psycholinguistics lecture 5 n.
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  1. Langston Psycholinguistics Lecture 5 Fonts, visual perception, reading

  2. Plan • Top-down • Comprehension • Bottom-up

  3. Plan • Our goal is to start with the input and see how far we can take it. • Constraint satisfaction problem. • We will introduce top-down influences when the situation demands it.

  4. Important Point • Speaking is something kids develop “on their own.” • Nobody reads without formal instruction and many have problems with reading.

  5. Writing Systems • The following discussion is taken from Anderson (1989) in O'Grady, Dobrovolsky, & Aronoff (1989).

  6. Writing Systems 1. Logographic: Each sign represents a word. • Pictograms: A picture is what it stands for, no clue to pronunciation. • Too concrete (love?), grammatical categories, hard work, ambiguous.

  7. Writing Systems 1. Logographic: Each sign represents a word. • Ideograms: “Represent ideas rather than concrete objects” (p. 361) • Incorporate arbitrary symbolic reference. • Logogram: Symbols read as words, no longer recognizable as the things represented (Chinese).

  8. Writing Systems 1. Logographic: Each sign represents a word. • The big transition: Through rebus sentences (“I see son”) the connection between symbols and sounds was made (Cuneiform, later hieroglyphics).

  9. Writing Systems 2. Syllabic: Each sign represents a syllable. • Relatively smaller number of signs (Japanese, katakana or hiragana 46 symbols). • Literary Japanese incorporates kanji symbols (logographic). • Katakana used to write non-Japanese words and in advertising (syllable-initial or -final consonant clusters cause trouble).

  10. Writing Systems • Alphabetic: Largely phonemic (does not respect details of allophones, e.g., pat, tap, apt). • Even fewer symbols. Universal applicability. • Phoenician: Consonants represented (whr r th vwls?). • Greeks: Added vowels, first true alphabet (one symbol-one sound, every sound represented).

  11. Writing Systems • Robinson (2002): For a lost language, how can we tell which kind of writing system they used? Based on the number of symbols (from p. 42).

  12. Writing Systems

  13. Writing Systems

  14. Writing Systems

  15. Writing Systems • Robinson (2002): How do you know how many symbols from a sample? (L X L) ______ - L = number of characters (L - M) in writing system • L = Number of characters in sample • M = Number of unique characters in sample.

  16. Writing Systems • Samples from Urban Legends Reference Pages (

  17. Writing Systems • Sample 1:

  18. Writing Systems • Sample 1: • Many students believe every college has regulations covering such circumstances, including detailed sets of rules that prescribe exactly how long students must wait based upon the academic "rank" (i.e., tenure and degree) of the tardy instructor. Surprisingly, although some schools do have an official "wait" rule, many institutions of higher learning have no official policies at all in this area, and we haven't found any college with written regulations specifying different wait times based upon instructors' academic rankings, which is the disputed point of this "everybody knows" factoid and the item on which our 'False' designation rests.

  19. Writing Systems • Sample 2: • Although many schools will offer some sort of bereavement consideration under exceptional circumstances, no college or university in the United States has a policy awarding a 4.0 average (or anything else) to a student whose roommate dies. This rumor (or at least its widespread distribution) appears to be of fairly recent origin, dating from approximately the mid-1970s. It most likely started out as an expression of the pressures students feel to achieve good grades in the form of a morbid joke (i.e., "Even if the pressures of school cause some people to off themselves, there's no reason we can't profit by it!"), and the joke became legend when it was spread as true by credulous students, picking up variations along the way. A similar theme of suicide (and student grade consideration for witnessing it) can be found in the pencil suicide legend.

  20. Writing Systems • Sample 3: • Introductory Chemistry at Duke has been taught for about a zillion years by Professor Bonk (really), and his course is semi-affectionately known as 'Bonkistry'. He has been around forever, so I wouldn't put it past him to come up with something like this. Anyway, one year there were these two guys who were taking Chemistry and who did pretty well on all of the quizzes and the midterms and labs, etc., such that going into the final, they had a solid A. These two friends were so confident going into the final that the weekend before finals week (even though the Chem final was on Monday), they decided to go up to UVirginia and party with some friends up there. So they did this and had a great time. However, with their hangovers and everything, they overslept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Duke until early monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, what they did was to find Professor Bonk after the final and explain to him why they missed the final. They told him that they went up to UVa for the weekend, and had planned to

  21. Writing Systems • Sample 3: • come back in time to study, but that they had a flat tire on the way back and didn't have a spare and couldn't get help for a long time and so were late getting back to campus. Bonk thought this over and then agreed that they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys were elated and relieved. So, they studied that night and went in the next day at the time that Bonk had told them. He placed them in separate rooms and handed each of them a test booklet and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, which was something simple about molarity and solutions and was worth 5 points. "Cool" they thought, "this is going to be easy." They did that problem and then turned the page. They were unprepared, however, for what they saw on the next page. It said: (95 points) Which tire?

  22. Writing Systems

  23. Font Design • One source of constraint comes from the writing system. • Additional sources of constraint come from the font. • Legibility: How easily the letters can be perceived. • Readability: How fatigued a person gets. • Not necessarily at the forefront during design.

  24. Font Design • Font features: • Serif vs. sans-serif (f vs. f) • Weight difference (e vs. e) • Bias • X-height • Spacing (proportional vs. non-proportional) • Proportions

  25. Font Design • Features can influence identification, as in this (admittedly not ideal) example:

  26. Font Design • Find the x: N N Z N Z N Z N Z Z N Z Z N Z Z N N N N N Z N X N Z N N N Z N Z N Z N Z Z N Z Z N Z Z N N

  27. Font Design • Find the x: O O P O P O P O P P O P P O P P P O O O P P O X P O P O O P O P O P O P P O P P O P P P O

  28. Font Design • Lanthier, Risko, Stolz, & Besner (2009; doi:10.3758/PBR.16.1.167): • In addition to features, information about how features combine is also important. • Delete information from midsegments: • Or vertices:

  29. Font Design • Lanthier et al. (2009): The kind of information deleted mattered:

  30. Gestalt Features • Also word envelope: • Hit • Hip • Elephant • Opportunity

  31. Orthography • The writing system. • The font. • Also orthography: The spelling patterns.

  32. Orthography • Orthography: Rules for combining letters • Avoid doubling letters • To pronounce: • V C V • V C C V • V C

  33. Orthography • Orthography • To correct a V C pattern, add a dummy e • Fin, fine, can, cane • To correct a V C V pattern, double • Runing, running • Orthography can help with: • Pronunciation: mab, mabing, mabe, mabbing • Letter expectations

  34. Orthography • “Problems” with English spelling: • Some letters do not represent any sound (sign, give, through). • A group of two or more letters can represent a single sound (think). • A single letter can be two or more sounds (saxophone). • The same letter can represent different sounds in different words (one, bone, on). • The same sound can be different letters in different words (rude, loop, soup).

  35. Orthography • Why English spelling isn't so bad: • Meaning is more transparent: • Electric-electricity. • Insert-insertion. • Right-righteous. • Bomb-bombard. • Damn-damnation. • Produce-production.

  36. Orthography • Why English spelling isn't so bad: • Dialects: Different speakers would have different spelling systems (car-ca). • Homophones: Can tell them apart: • To, two, too. • Bare, bear. • No, know. • Flea, flee. • Sore, soar.

  37. Orthography • Reformed orthography: • Fainali, xen, after sam 20 iers ov orxogrephkl riform, we wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy spiking werld.

  38. Orthography • Reformed orthography: • For example, in Year 1 that useless letter 'c' would be dropped to be replased by either 'k' or 's', and likewise 'x' would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which 'c' would be retained would be the 'ch' formation, which will be dealt with later.

  39. Orthography • Reformed orthography: • Year 2 might reform 'w' spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish 'y' replasing it with 'i' and Iear 4 might fiks the “g-j” anomali wonse and for all.

  40. Orthography • Reformed orthography: • Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali be posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant leterz 'c', 'y', and 'x'--bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderers--tu replas 'ch', 'sh', and 'th' rispektivli.

  41. Orthography • Reformed orthography: • Fainali, xen, after sam 20 iers ov orxogrephkl riform, we wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy spiking werld.

  42. Orthography Constraints • Orthography constraints help with letter identification. • Which would be easier to identify, a single letter or a letter in a word? E.g., • d • word

  43. Orthography Constraints • Word superiority effect: Letters are easier to identify in words than by themselves. • The explanation is that letters in words have two sources of constraint: • Bottom-up: The input. • Top-down: Word knowledge.

  44. Orthography Constraints • Interactive activation model (McClelland & Rumelhart, 1981).

  45. Orthography Constraints

  46. Orthography Constraints

  47. Orthography Constraints

  48. Orthography Constraints

  49. Orthography Constraints • Lanthier et al. (2009): When they put degraded letters into words in Experiment 3:

  50. Orthography Constraints • Lanthier et al. (2009): Can you explain why the kind of deletion didn't matter in words?