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Chapter Six Language and Cognition

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  1. Chapter SixLanguage and Cognition

  2. Contents • * Cognition • * Psycholinguistics • * Cognitive Linguistics

  3. 1. Cognition • Mental processes, information processing • Mental process or faculty of knowing, including awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment.

  4. The formal approach: structural patterns, including the study of morphological, syntactic, and lexical structure. • The psychological approach: language from the view of general systems ranging from perception, memory, attention, and reasoning. • The conceptual approach: how language structures (processes & patterns) conceptual content.

  5. 2. Psycholinguistics • Psychological aspects of language. • Psychological states and mental activity with the use of language. • Language acquisition, language production & comprehension.

  6. Related fields • Structural linguistics • Cognitive psychology • Anthropology • Neurosciences

  7. Six subjects of research • Language acquisition (L1 / L2) • Language comprehension • Language production • Language disorders • Language and Thought • Neurocognition

  8. 2.1 Language Acquisition • Holophrastic stage • Language’s sound patterns • Phonetic distinctions in parents’ language. • One-word stage: objects, actions, motions, routines.

  9. Two-word stage: around 18m

  10. Three-word-utterance stage • Give doggie paper. • Put truck window. • Tractor go floor.

  11. Fluent grammatical conversation stage • Embed one constituent inside another: • Give doggie paper.  • Give big doggie paper. • Use more function words: missing function words and inflection in the beginning but good use (90%) by the age of 3, with a full range of sentence types. • All parts of all language are acquired before the child turns four.

  12. 2.2 Language comprehension • Mental lexicon: information about the properties of words, retrievable when understanding language • For example, we may use morphological rules to decompose a complex word like rewritable the first few times we encounter it and after several exposures we may store and access it as a unit or word. • It means that frequency of exposure determines our ability to recall stored instances.

  13. Connectionism: readers use the same system of links between spelling units and sound units to generate the pronunciations of written words like tove and to access the pronunciations of familiar words like stove, or words that are exceptions to these patterns, like love. • Similarity and frequency play important roles in processing and comprehending language, with the novel items being processed based on their similarity to the known ones.

  14. Word recognition • Cohort theory: • Marslen-Wilson & Welsh (1978) • The first few phonemes of a spoken word activate a set of word candidates that are consistent with the input.

  15. Interactive model: • Higher processing levels have a direct, “top-down” influence on lower levels. • Lexical knowledge can affect the perception of phonemes. There is interactivity in the form of lexical effects on the perception of sub-lexical units. • In certain cases, listeners’ knowledge of words can lead to the inhibition of certain phonemes; in other cases, listeners continue to “hear” phonemes that have been removed from the speech signal and replaced by noise.

  16. Race model: • Pre-lexical route: computes phonological information from the acoustic signal • Lexical route: the phonological information associated with a word becomes available when the word itself is accessed • When word-level information appears to affect a lower-level process, it is assumed that the lexical route won the race.

  17. Factors involved in word recognition: • Frequency effect: the ease with which a word is accessed due to its more frequent usage in the L. • Recency effects: the ease with which a word is accessed due to its repeated occurrence in the discourse or context. • Cotext: We recognize a word more readily when the preceding words provide an appropriate context for it.

  18. Lexical ambiguity • All the meanings related to the word are accessed. • Only one meaning is accessed initially.

  19. Are you engaged ? • My friend drove me to the bank. • They passed the port at midnight. • Please give me a camel. • 上课 • 做手术

  20. The clerk (entering): Are you engaged? Augustus: What business is that of yours? However, if you will take the trouble to read the society papers for this week, you will see that I am engaged to the Honourable Lucy Popham, youngest daughter of. . . The clerk: That isn’t what I mean. Can you see a female? Augustus: Of course, I can see a female as easily as a male. Do you suppose I am blind? (George Bernard Shaw: Augustus Does His Bit)

  21. Comprehension of sentences • Serial models: the sentence comprehension system continually and sequentially followsconstraints of a language’s grammar • Describe how the processor quickly constructs one or more representations of a sentence based on a restricted range of information that is guaranteed to be relevant to its interpretation, primarily grammatical information. • Any such representation is then quickly interpreted and evaluated, using the full range of information that might be relevant.

  22. Parallel models: emphasize that the comprehension system is sensitive to a vast range of information, including grammatical, lexical, and contextual, as well as knowledge of the speaker/writer and of the world in general. • Describe how the processor uses all relevant information to quickly evaluate the full range of possible interpretations of a sentence. • It is generally acknowledged that listeners and readers integrate grammatical and situational knowledge in understanding a sentence.

  23. Structural factors in comprehension • Comprehension of written and spoken language can be difficult because it is not always easy to identify the constituents(phrases) of a sentence and the ways in which they relate to one another. • Psycholinguists have proposed principles interpreting sentence comprehension with respect to the grammatical constraints.

  24. Minimal attachment: the “structurally simpler”--structural simplicity guides all initial analyses in sentence comprehension. • The second wife will claim the inheritance belongs to her.

  25. Garden path sentences • The horse raced past the barn fell. • The man who hunts ducks out on weekends. • The cotton clothing is usually made of grows in Mississippi. • Fat people eat accumulates.

  26. Lexical factors in comprehension • The human sentence processor is primarily guided by information about specific words that is stored in the lexicon. • The salesman glanced at a/the customer with suspicion/ripped jeans.

  27. Syntactic ambiguity • Different possible ways in which words can be fit into phrases. • Ambiguous category of some of the words in the sentence.

  28. John painted the car in the garage.

  29. May likes the vase on the cupboard which she bought yesterday. • The students will discuss their plan to hold a dancing party in the classroom. • I know Simon better than you. • Tell me if you have time.

  30. My brother wasn’t reading all the time. • The chairman appointed Mr. Brown an assistant. • The scholar wrote long thesis and books. • Flying planes can be dangerous.

  31. Comprehension of text • Resonance model: information in long-term memory is automatically activated by the presence of material that apparently bears a rough semantic relation to it.

  32. Discourse interpretation • Schemata and drawing inferences • Schema: a pre-existing knowledge structure in memory typically involving the normal expected patterns of things.

  33. [RESTAURANT] Schema: Entering, ordering, eating and exiting. Entering Scene: The customer enters a restaurant, looks for a table, decides where to sit, walks to the table…

  34. John went into a restaurant. He asked the waitress for coq au vin. He ate it, paid the bill and left. (perfectly understandable) • John went into a restaurant. He saw a waitress. He got up and went home. (does not seem to make sense)

  35. Apartment for rent. $500. • I stopped to get some groceries but there weren't any baskets left so by the time I arrived at the check-out counter I must have looked like a juggler having a bad day.

  36. A: Would you like a coffee? B: Yes, please. … B: No and no. A: Right.

  37. 一天,我在看中央三台的中国音乐电视。我正看得津津有味的时候,老妈回来了说:“这是谁啊?”当时正是龙宽九段在唱歌。我就说:“龙宽九段。”这时,老妈一本正经的问:“九段?下围棋的啊?她还能唱歌啊?”一天,我在看中央三台的中国音乐电视。我正看得津津有味的时候,老妈回来了说:“这是谁啊?”当时正是龙宽九段在唱歌。我就说:“龙宽九段。”这时,老妈一本正经的问:“九段?下围棋的啊?她还能唱歌啊?”

  38. Pragmatic ambiguity • There is a fly in my soup. • Today is Sunday. • “Do you enjoy sitting beside me?” she asked coldly. • “Oh, no, ”I said. • “Well, you are not wanted here. ” (W. E. B. DuBois, “On Being Crazy”)

  39. 2.3 Language production • Access to words • Conceptualization: what to express • Word selection: a competitive process • Morpho-phonological encoding: target words

  40. Generation of sentences • Conceptual preparation: deciding what to say – a global plan is needed • Word retrieval and application of syntactic knowledge • Processes of sentence generation • Functional planning: assigning grammatical functions • Positional encoding: getting into positions for each unit

  41. Written language production • Similar to spoken language. • Orthographic form instead of phonological form. • However, phonology plays an important role in this process. • Writers have more time available for conceptual preparation and planning.

  42. 3. Cognitive Linguistics • Cognition is the way we think. • Cognitive linguistics is the scientific study of the relation between the way we communicate and the way we think. • It is an approach to language that is based on our experience of the world and the way we perceive and conceptualize it.

  43. Three main approaches • The Experiential View • The Prominence View • The Attentional View

  44. Experiential view • Car: a box-like shape, wheels, doors, windows comfort, speed, mobility, independence, social status

  45. Prominence view • The selection and arrangement of the information that is expressed. • The car crashed into the tree. • The tree is hit by the car.

  46. Attentional view • What we actually express reflects which parts of an event attract our attention. • The car crashed into the tree. • How the car started to swerve; • How it skidded across the road; • How it rumbled onto the verge.

  47. 3.1 Construal • Construal: the ability to conceive and portray the same situation in different ways

  48. 1). Attention / salience • We activate the most relevant concepts more than concepts that are irrelevant to what we are thinking about. • We drove the road. • She ran across the road. • The workers dug through the road.

  49. 2). Judgment / Comparison, Figure / Ground • We cannot attend to all facets of a scene at the same time. • We cannot pay attention to everything. Instead, we focus on events of particular salience. • Figure-ground organization • The ground seems to be placed behind the figure extending in the background. • The figure is thus more prominent, or even more interesting, than the ground.