Displaying 1 - 10 of 10
  • Bergmann, C., Paulus, M., & Fikkert, J. (2010). A closer look at pronoun comprehension: Comparing different methods. In J. Costa, A. Castro, M. Lobo, & F. Pratas (Eds.), Language Acquisition and Development: Proceedings of GALA 2009 (pp. 53-61). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Abstract

    1. Introduction External input is necessary to acquire language. Consequently, the comprehension of various constituents of language, such as lexical items or syntactic and semantic structures should emerge at the same time as or even precede their production. However, in the case of pronouns this general assumption does not seem to hold. On the contrary, while children at the age of four use pronouns and reflexives appropriately during production (de Villiers, et al. 2006), a number of comprehension studies across different languages found chance performance in pronoun trials up to the age of seven, which co-occurs with a high level of accuracy in reflexive trials (for an overview see e.g. Conroy, et al. 2009; Elbourne 2005).
  • Bergmann, C., Gubian, M., & Boves, L. (2010). Modelling the effect of speaker familiarity and noise on infant word recognition. In Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association [Interspeech 2010] (pp. 2910-2913). ISCA.

    Abstract

    In the present paper we show that a general-purpose word learning model can simulate several important findings from recent experiments in language acquisition. Both the addition of background noise and varying the speaker have been found to influence infants’ performance during word recognition experiments. We were able to replicate this behaviour in our artificial word learning agent. We use the results to discuss both advantages and limitations of computational models of language acquisition.
  • Dolscheid, S., Shayan, S., Ozturk, O., Majid, A., & Casasanto, D. (2010). Language shapes mental representations of musical pitch: Implications for metaphorical language processing [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the 16th Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing [AMLaP 2010] (pp. 137). York: University of York.

    Abstract

    Speakers often use spatial metaphors to talk about musical pitch (e.g., a low note, a high soprano). Previous experiments suggest that English speakers also think about pitches as high or low in space, even when theyʼre not using language or musical notation (Casasanto, 2010). Do metaphors in language merely reflect pre-existing associations between space and pitch, or might language also shape these non-linguistic metaphorical mappings? To investigate the role of language in pitch tepresentation, we conducted a pair of non-linguistic spacepitch interference experiments in speakers of two languages that use different spatial metaphors. Dutch speakers usually describe pitches as ʻhighʼ (hoog) and ʻlowʼ (laag). Farsi speakers, however, often describe high-frequency pitches as ʻthinʼ (naazok) and low-frequency pitches as ʻthickʼ (koloft). Do Dutch and Farsi speakers mentally represent pitch differently? To find out, we asked participants to reproduce musical pitches that they heard in the presence of irrelevant spatial information (i.e., lines that varied either in height or in thickness). For the Height Interference experiment, horizontal lines bisected a vertical reference line at one of nine different locations. For the Thickness Interference experiment, a vertical line appeared in the middle of the screen in one of nine thicknesses. In each experiment, the nine different lines were crossed with nine different pitches ranging from C4 to G#4 in semitone increments, to produce 81 distinct trials. If Dutch and Farsi speakers mentally represent pitch the way they talk about it, using different kinds of spatial representations, they should show contrasting patterns of cross-dimensional interference: Dutch speakersʼ pitch estimates should be more strongly affected by irrelevant height information, and Farsi speakersʼ by irrelevant thickness information. As predicted, Dutch speakersʼ pitch estimates were significantly modulated by spatial height but not by thickness. Conversely, Farsi speakersʼ pitch estimates were modulated by spatial thickness but not by height (2x2 ANOVA on normalized slopes of the effect of space on pitch: F(1,71)=17,15 p<.001). To determine whether language plays a causal role in shaping pitch representations, we conducted a training experiment. Native Dutch speakers learned to use Farsi-like metaphors, describing pitch relationships in terms of thickness (e.g., a cello sounds ʻthickerʼ than a flute). After training, Dutch speakers showed a significant effect of Thickness interference in the non-linguistic pitch reproduction task, similar to native Farsi speakers: on average, pitches accompanied by thicker lines were reproduced as lower in pitch (effect of thickness on pitch: r=-.22, p=.002). By conducting psychophysical tasks, we tested the ʻWhorfianʼ question without using words. Yet, results also inform theories of metaphorical language processing. According to psycholinguistic theories (e.g., Bowdle & Gentner, 2005), highly conventional metaphors are processed without any active mapping from the source to the target domain (e.g., from space to pitch). Our data, however, suggest that when people use verbal metaphors they activate a corresponding non-linguistic mapping from either height or thickness to pitch, strengthening this association at the expense of competing associations. As a result, people who use different metaphors in their native languages form correspondingly different representations of musical pitch. Casasanto, D. (2010). Space for Thinking. In Language, Cognition and Space: State of the art and new directions. V. Evans & P. Chilton (Eds.), 453-478, London: Equinox Publishing. Bowdle, B. & Gentner, D. (2005). The career of metaphor. Psychological Review, 112, 193-216.
  • Gubian, M., Bergmann, C., & Boves, L. (2010). Investigating word learning processes in an artificial agent. In Proceedings of the IXth IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning (ICDL). Ann Arbor, MI, 18-21 Aug. 2010 (pp. 178 -184). IEEE.

    Abstract

    Researchers in human language processing and acquisition are making an increasing use of computational models. Computer simulations provide a valuable platform to reproduce hypothesised learning mechanisms that are otherwise very difficult, if not impossible, to verify on human subjects. However, computational models come with problems and risks. It is difficult to (automatically) extract essential information about the developing internal representations from a set of simulation runs, and often researchers limit themselves to analysing learning curves based on empirical recognition accuracy through time. The associated risk is to erroneously deem a specific learning behaviour as generalisable to human learners, while it could also be a mere consequence (artifact) of the implementation of the artificial learner or of the input coding scheme. In this paper a set of simulation runs taken from the ACORNS project is investigated. First a look `inside the box' of the learner is provided by employing novel quantitative methods for analysing changing structures in large data sets. Then, the obtained findings are discussed in the perspective of their ecological validity in the field of child language acquisition.
  • Kung, C., Chwilla, D. J., Gussenhoven, C., Bögels, S., & Schriefers, H. (2010). What did you say just now, bitterness or wife? An ERP study on the interaction between tone, intonation and context in Cantonese Chinese. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2010 (pp. 1-4).

    Abstract

    Previous studies on Cantonese Chinese showed that rising question intonation contours on low-toned words lead to frequent misperceptions of the tones. Here we explored the processing consequences of this interaction between tone and intonation by comparing the processing and identification of monosyllabic critical words at the end of questions and statements, using a tone identification task, and ERPs as an online measure of speech comprehension. Experiment 1 yielded higher error rates for the identification of low tones at the end of questions and a larger N400-P600 pattern, reflecting processing difficulty and reanalysis, compared to other conditions. In Experiment 2, we investigated the effect of immediate lexical context on the tone by intonation interaction. Increasing contextual constraints led to a reduction in errors and the disappearance of the P600 effect. These results indicate that there is an immediate interaction between tone, intonation, and context in online speech comprehension. The difference in performance and activation patterns between the two experiments highlights the significance of context in understanding a tone language, like Cantonese-Chinese.
  • Versteegh, M., Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2010). Active word learning under uncertain input conditions. In Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (Interspeech 2010), Makuhari, Japan (pp. 2930-2933). ISCA.

    Abstract

    This paper presents an analysis of phoneme durations of emotional speech in two languages: Dutch and Korean. The analyzed corpus of emotional speech has been specifically developed for the purpose of cross-linguistic comparison, and is more balanced than any similar corpus available so far: a) it contains expressions by both Dutch and Korean actors and is based on judgments by both Dutch and Korean listeners; b) the same elicitation technique and recording procedure were used for recordings of both languages; and c) the phonetics of the carrier phrase were constructed to be permissible in both languages. The carefully controlled phonetic content of the carrier phrase allows for analysis of the role of specific phonetic features, such as phoneme duration, in emotional expression in Dutch and Korean. In this study the mutual effect of language and emotion on phoneme duration is presented.
  • Versteegh, M., Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2010). Dealing with uncertain input in word learning. In Proceedings of the IXth IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning (ICDL). Ann Arbor, MI, 18-21 Aug. 2010 (pp. 46-51). IEEE.

    Abstract

    In this paper we investigate a computational model of word learning, that is embedded in a cognitively and ecologically plausible framework. Multi-modal stimuli from four different speakers form a varied source of experience. The model incorporates active learning, attention to a communicative setting and clarity of the visual scene. The model's ability to learn associations between speech utterances and visual concepts is evaluated during training to investigate the influence of active learning under conditions of uncertain input. The results show the importance of shared attention in word learning and the model's robustness against noise.
  • Versteegh, M., Sangati, F., & Zuidema, W. (2010). Simulations of socio-linguistic change: Implications for unidirectionality. In A. Smith, M. Schoustra, B. Boer, & K. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 8) (pp. 511-512). World Scientific Publishing.
  • Weber, A., & Poellmann, K. (2010). Identifying foreign speakers with an unfamiliar accent or in an unfamiliar language. In New Sounds 2010: Sixth International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech (pp. 536-541). Poznan, Poland: Adam Mickiewicz University.
  • Witteman, M. J., Weber, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2010). Rapid and long-lasting adaptation to foreign-accented speech [Abstract]. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 2486.

    Abstract

    In foreign-accented speech, listeners have to handle noticeable deviations from the standard pronunciation of a target language. Three cross-modal priming experiments investigated how short- and long-term experiences with a foreign accent influence word recognition by native listeners. In experiment 1, German-accented words were presented to Dutch listeners who had either extensive or limited prior experience with German-accented Dutch. Accented words either contained a diphthong substitution that deviated acoustically quite largely from the canonical form (huis [hys], "house", pronounced as [hoys]), or that deviated acoustically to a lesser extent (lijst [lst], "list", pronounced as [lst]). The mispronunciations never created lexical ambiguity in Dutch. While long-term experience facilitated word recognition for both types of substitutions, limited experience facilitated recognition only of words with acoustically smaller deviations. In experiment 2, Dutch listeners with limited experience listened to the German speaker for 4 min before participating in the cross-modal priming experiment. The results showed that speaker-specific learning effects for acoustically large deviations can be obtained already after a brief exposure, as long as the exposure contains evidence of the deviations. Experiment 3 investigates whether these short-term adaptation effects for foreign-accented speech are speaker-independent.

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