Stephen C. Levinson

Presentations

Displaying 1 - 100 of 124
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2019). How much speech do Tseltal Mayan children hear? Daylong averages and interactional bursts. Talk presented at the 4th Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD 2019). Potsdam, Germany. 2019-06-13 - 2019-06-15.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Casillas, M. (2019). Ruminations on the functions and cognitive prerequisites of kinship. Talk presented at the workshop Revisiting the Evolution of Kinship Terms. Canberra, Australia. 2019-02-27 - 2019-03-01.
  • Blokpoel, M., Dingemanse, M., Kachergis, G., Bögels, S., Drijvers, L., Eijk, L., Ernestus, M., De Haas, N., Holler, J., Levinson, S. C., Lui, R., Milivojevic, B., Neville, D., Ozyurek, A., Rasenberg, M., Schriefers, H., Trujillo, J. P., Winner, T., Toni, I., & Van Rooij, I. (2018). Ambiguity helps higher-order pragmatic reasoners communicate. Talk presented at the 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK (KOGWIS 2018). Darmstadt, Germany. 2018-09-03 - 2018-09-06.
  • Bögels, S., Milvojevic, B., De Haas, N., Döller, C., Rasenberg, M., Ozyurek, A., Dingemanse, M., Eijk, L., Ernestus, M., Schriefers, H., Blokpoel, M., Van Rooij, I., Levinson, S. C., & Toni, I. (2018). Creating shared conceptual representations. Poster presented at the 10th Dubrovnik Conference on Cognitive Science, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
  • Byun, K.-S., De Vos, C., Roberts, S. G., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Interactive sequences modulate the selection of expressive forms in cross-signing. Talk presented at the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language: (EVOLANG XII). Toruń, Poland. 2018-04-15 - 2018-04-19.
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Acquiring a typologically rare phonological contrast in Yélî Dnye. Poster presented at the Nijmegen Lectures 2018, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • Garrido Rodriguez, G., Huettig, F., Norcliffe, E., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Participant assignment to thematic roles in Tzeltal: Eye tracking evidence from sentence comprehension in a verb-initial language. Talk presented at Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2018). Berlin, Germany. 2018-09-06 - 2018-09-08.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2018). Interactional foundations of language: The Interaction Engine hypothesis [invited talk]. Talk presented at the JASS conference. Tokyo, Japan. 2018-03-08.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2018). Where it all begins - interactive language use as a key to insights at different time scales [invited talk]. Talk presented at CoEDL Fest 2018. Melbourne, Australia. 2018-02-05 - 2018-02-08.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2018). Spatial cognition, empathy and language evolution [invited lecture by PSJ (Pragmatics Society of Japan)]. Talk presented at the Consortium of University in Kyoto (a.k.a. Campus Plaza Kyoto). Kyoto, Japan. 2018-03-15.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Bögels, S. (2018). Seeing the unseen: Discovering the cognitive processes underlying conversation. Talk presented at the 5th International Conference of Conversation Analysis (ICCA 2018). Loughborough, UK. 2018-07-11 - 2018-07-15.
  • Garrido Rodriguez, G., Huettig, F., Norcliffe, E., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). Participant assignment to thematic roles in Tzeltal: Eye tracking evidence from sentence comprehension in a verb-initial language. Poster presented at the workshop 'Event Representations in Brain, Language & Development' (EvRep), Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face conversation. Talk presented at the MPI Proudly Presents series. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2017-06-29.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). Eye blinking as listener feedback in face-to-face communication. Talk presented at the 5th European Symposium on Multimodal Communication (MMSYM). Bielefeld, Germany. 2017-10-16 - 2017-10-17.

    Supplementary material

    Abstract
  • Levinson, S. C. (2017). A manifesto for time. Talk presented at the Workshop Key Questions and New Methods in the Language Sciences. Berg en Dal, The Netherlands. 2017-06-14 - 2017-06-17.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2017). Natural forms of purposeful interaction among humans: What makes interaction effective [invited talk]. Talk presented at the Ernst Strungmann Forum. Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 2017-05-22.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2017). Processing in interactive language use offers clues to the evolution of language. Talk presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Cambridge, MA, USA. 2017-03-30 - 2017-04-01.

    Abstract

    The central niche for language use is social interaction: this is the context in which language is learned, most heavily used, and doubtless evolved. Interactive language use has well defined properties which look strongly universal. Amongst these is turn-taking or the rapid alternation of speakers. Investigations of turn-taking reveal rather stable temporal parameters, with alternating short bursts of speech (averaging c. 2 secs), separated by modal gaps of only 200 ms or less. Given the latencies involved in language production (c. 600 ms for a single word, 1500 ms for a simple clause) this implies an overlap in comprehension and production by the addressee towards the end of the incoming turn, an implication confirmed by neuroimaging and other measures. Such multitasking must involve a high cognitive load. Looking at the development of turn-taking in infancy and childhood, one can see relatively quick responses in the early months slowing down as ever more complex language has to be crammed into short turns, with children struggling to meet adult norms even in middle childhood. The intensive processing required by turn-taking suggests it might be a kind of “fossil” with temporal properties inherited from our primate ancestors before complex vocal language gradually developed, filling short turns with increasingly complex structures. A glance across our primate cousins gives some reasons to think this is a plausible scenario.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2017). Cultural diversity in an age of fear [invited talk]. Talk presented at Pressing Questions in the Study of Psychological and Behavioral Diversity: An Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium. Irvine, CA, USA. 2017-09-07 - 2017-09-09.
  • Bögels, S., Casillas, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). To plan or to listen? The trade-off between comprehension and production in conversation. Poster presented at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL 2016), London, UK.

    Abstract

    Transitions between speakers in conversation are usually smooth, lasting around 200 milliseconds. Such rapid response latencies suggest that, at least sometimes, responders must begin planning their response before the ongoing turn is finished. Indeed, evidence from EEG suggests that listeners start planning their responses to questions as soon as they can, often midway through the incoming turn [1]. But given substantial overlap in the neural hardware for language production and comprehension, early response planning might incur a cost on participants’ concurrent comprehension of the ongoing turn. Do early responses come at the expense of less careful listening? We performed an EEG study in which participants played an interactive game with a confederate partner. Participants saw two pictures on their screen (e.g., a banana and a pineapple), then heard a (prerecorded) question from their partner, and then responded verbally by naming the correct picture. Participants were made to believe that their partner spoke to them live. Examples of the conditions in the experiment: 1. Early planning: 'Which object is curved and is considered to be fruit/healthy?'; 2. Late planning: 'Which object is considered to be fruit/healthy and is curved?' (response: 'the banana'). The questions were designed such that participants could start planning their response early (Example 1) or late (Example 2) in the turn. Crucially, in another part of the turn, we included either an expected word (e.g., 'fruit') or an unexpected one (e.g., 'healthy') to elicit a differential N400 effect. Our aims were two-fold: replicating the prior planning effect [1] and testing the effect of planning on comprehension. First, our results largely replicated the earlier study [1], showing a large positivity in the ERPs and an alpha/beta reduction in the time-frequency domain, both immediately following the onset of the critical information when participants could have first started planning their verbal response (i.e., 'curved'). As before [1], we interpret these effects as indicating the start of response planning. Second, and more importantly, we hypothesized that the N400 effect (the ERP difference between 'fruit' and 'healthy') would be attenuated when participants were already planning a response (i.e., in early vs. late planning). In contrast, we found an N400 effect of similar size in both the early and late planning conditions, although a small late positivity was only found in the late planning condition. Interestingly, we found a positive correlation between participants' overall response time and the size of the N400 effect after planning had started (i.e., in early planning), illustrating a trade-off between comprehension and production during turn taking. That is, quick responders showed a smaller N400 effect. We argue that their focus on production planning reduced their attention to the incoming audio signal and probably also their predictive processing, leading to a smaller N400 effect. Slow responders focused instead on the audio signal, preserving their N400 effect but delaying their response. Reference [1]: Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation. Scientific Reports, 5: 12881. Topic Area: Meaning: Discourse and Pragmatics
  • Byun, K.-S., Roberts, S. G., De Vos, C., Levinson, S. C., & Zeshan, U. (2016). Content-biased and coordination-biased selection in the evolution of expressive forms in cross-signing. Talk presented at the International Society for Gesture Studies. Paris, France. 2016-07-18 - 2016-07-22.

    Abstract

    This paper studies communication among deaf sign language users with highly divergent linguistic backgroun ds who have no signed or written language in common. It constitutes the earliest, least conventionalised stages of improvised communication, called ”cross - signing” (Zeshan 2015), as opposed to the semi - conventionalised contact language International Sign ( e.g. Supalla & Webb 1995). The specific focus here is on the evolution of the shared repertoire amongst signers over several weeks as they co - construct meaning across linguistic and cultural boundaries. We look at two possible factors influencing the selec tion of expressive forms (cf. Tamariz et al. 2014): content - bias (where the more iconically - motivated, and/or easily - articulated form is selected) and coordination - bias (where participants attempt to match each other’s usag e). The data set consists of a 320 - minute corpus of first encounters between dyads of signers of Nepali Sign Language, Indian Sign Language, Jordanian Sign Language and Indonesian Sign Language. Recordings took place at the first meeting, after one week, a nd after three weeks. The participants vary naturally with regard to their linguistic and international experience as well as their age of sign language acquisition. In addition to spontaneous conversations, we collected structured dialogues using a Direct or - Matcher task. In this language elicitation game, the Director has the coloured images and the Matcher has identical but black and white images alongside a set of colour chips from which they need to select based on the Director’s descriptions. We coded and examined the various colour expressions exploited by the participants. The semantic field of colour was chosen for this investigation into the evolution of shared communication for two reasons: the visual domain of colour retains sufficient levels of a bstraction while affording signers with iconic potential. Participants initially used a range of strategies, including pointing, articulating signs for common objects with that colour (e.g. referring to a common iconic sign for ‘tree’ and pointing to the b ase to mean ‘brown’), and their own native variants. However, three weeks later these individuals all start using the same forms, e.g. the Indian signer’s variant for ‘green’ and the Nepali signer’s improvised ‘tree - trunk’ variant for ‘brown’. The iconic m otivation of the latter and the ease of articulation of the former suggest that the content - bias is in play. The coordination - bias also seems influential in the group’s eventual selection of one variant (cf. Tamariz et al. 2014). We explore these and furth er factors that may affect the two biases in the selection of forms within our data. We also consider participants’ meta - linguistic skills (Zeshan 2013) and fluency in multiple sign languages (Byun et al. in preparation).
  • Byun, K.-S., Levinson, S. C., Zeshan, U., & De Vos, C. (2016). Success rates of conversational repair strategies by cross-signers. Poster presented at the 12th International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR12), Melbourne, Australia.
  • Byun, K.-S., De Vos, C., Levinson, S. C., & Zeshan, U. (2016). Repair strategies and recursion as evidence of individual differences in metalinguistic skill in Cross-signing. Poster presented at the 12th International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR12), Melbourne, Australia.
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Communicative development in a Mayan village. Talk presented at the Tilburg University. Tilburg, The Netherlands.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face conversation. Talk presented at the 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS7). Paris, France. 2016-07-22 - 2016-07-24.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2016). Empathy and the early stages of language evolution. Talk presented at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies. Cambridge, UK. 2016-03-08.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Brown, P. (2016). Comparative feedback: Cultural shaping of response systems in interaction. Talk presented at the 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS7). Paris, France. 2016-07-18 - 2016-07-22.

    Abstract

    There is some evidence that systems of minimal response (‘feedback’, ‘back-channel’, ‘reactive tokens’) may vary systematically across speakers of different languages and cultural backgrounds (e.g., Maynard, 1986; Clancy et al., 1996). The questions we address here are these: what is the nature of such differences? And what difference do they make to how do these differences affect the interactional system as a whole? We explore this these questions by looking in detail at conversational data from two languages and cultures: Y ́elˆı Dnye, spoken on Rossel Island (Papua New Guinea), and Tzeltal Mayan, spoken in southern Mexico. The Rossel system is gaze-based, interlocutors tend to maintain a high level of mutual gaze, and a large proportion of feedback signals – many nonverbal – occur during the production of the turn that is being reacted to. Tzeltal speakers, in contrast, practice gaze avoidance, and produce very few visual feedback signals, but instead relying on frequent verbal response signals at the end of each TCU, and an elaborate convention of repeating (parts of) the prior turn to display understanding and agreement. We outline the repertoire of response tokens for each language, illustrate their differential usage, and suggest some consequences of these properties of turn-taking systems for interactional style and for on- line processing
  • Levinson, S. C. (2016). The Interaction Engine hypothesis. Talk presented at the Language in Interaction Summerschool on Human Language: From Genes and Brains to Behavior. Berg en Dal, The Netherlands. 2016-07-03 - 2016-07-14.

    Abstract

    Along with complexity, the extent of the variability of human language across social groups is unprecedented in the animal kingdom, and we need to understand how this is possible. An underdetermined innate basis is plausible, but there is no consensus about what it is (other than vocal learning and the vocal apparatus), or how it would make it possible to learn varied languages. An alternative, and potentially complementary, explanation suggests that there is a set of communicative instincts and motivations that together make it possible for the infant to bootstrap into the local language, whatever it may be. Some evidence for this is as follows. First, the organization of informal interactive human communication – the core niche for language use – looks much less variable than languages. Thus all language users in this niche take rapid turns at talking even though the speed of this is highly demanding. Similarly, all users avail themselves of the same mechanisms for repairing miscommunication, and use the same restricted system for building coherent dialogues. Second, long before infants have any linguistic knowledge, they take part in ‘proto-conversations’ that exhibit these same universal organizations. Third, where normal spoken language is not accessible to individuals (as when they are profoundly deaf), they still share the same communicative infrastructure. Finally, there are some signs of phylogenetic parallels in other primates. If this is correct, Darwin’s characterization of language as “an instinct to acquire an art” may have its root in communicative instincts as much as specific instincts about language structure
  • Toni, I., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Communication with and before language [Session Chair]. Talk presented at the Language in Interaction Summerschool on Human Language: From Genes and Brains to Behavior. Berg en Dal, The Netherlands. 2016-07-03 - 2016-07-14.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Linguistic cues enabling rapid conversational turn-taking in sign. Talk presented at the Research Training Group 2070 "Understanding Social Relationships". Göttingen, Germany. 2016-11-07.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Linguistic cues enabling rapid conversational turn-taking in sign. Talk presented at the Language seminar, Institut Jean-Nicod. Paris, France. 2016-10-26.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Linguistic cues enabling rapid conversational turn-taking in Sign Language of the Netherlands. Talk presented at the Grammar & Cognition colloquium. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2016-12-08.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). The role of facial expressions in the anticipation of turn-ends. Talk presented at the International Gesture Conference (ISGS 2016). Paris, France. 2016-07-18 - 2016-07-22.

    Supplementary material

    abstract
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2016). Stroke-to-stroke turn-boundary prediction in Sign Language of the Netherlands. Poster presented at the 12th International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR12), Melbourne, Australia.

    Supplementary material

    Abstract of poster
  • Bögels, S., Kendrick, K. H., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). The significance of silence. Long gaps attenuate the preference for ‘yes’ responses in conversation. Poster presented at the 19th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial 2015 / goDIAL), Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Abstract

    In conversation, negative responses to invitations, requests, offers and the like more often occur with a delay – conversation analysts talk of them as dispreferred. Here we examine the contrastive cognitive load ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses make, either when given relatively fast (300 ms) or delayed (1000 ms). Participants heard minidialogues, with turns extracted from a spoken corpus, while having their EEG recorded. We find that a fast ‘no’ evokes an N400-effect relative to a fast ‘yes’, however this contrast is not present for delayed responses. This shows that an immediate response is expected to be positive – but this expectation disappears as the response time lengthens because now in ordinary conversation the probability of a ‘no’ has increased. Additionally, however, 'No' responses elicit a late frontal positivity both when they are fast and when they are delayed. Thus, regardless of the latency of response, a ‘no’ response is associated with a late positivity, since a negative response is always dispreferred and may require an account. Together these results show that negative responses to social actions exact a higher cognitive load, but especially when least expected, as an immediate response.
  • Hilbrink, E., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Infants’ sensitivity to close timing of communicative interaction. Poster presented at Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD), Stockholm.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face conversation. Talk presented at the 6th Joint Action Meeting. Budapest, Hungary. 2015-07-01 - 2015-07-04.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face dialogue?. Poster presented at the 19th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial 2015 / goDIAL), Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face dialogue?. Talk presented at the Donders Discussions Conference. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2015-11-05.
  • Hömke, P., Holler, J., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Blinking as addressee feedback in face-to-face dialogue?. Talk presented at the Nijmegen-Tilburg Multi-modality workshop. Tilburg, The Netherlands. 2015-10-22.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). PHM's vademecum for exotic languages. Talk presented at the Seminar in honor of Prof. Peter H. Matthews at the Cambridge University, Downing College. Cambridge, UK. 2015-09-25.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Language usage, language processing and typology. Talk presented at the conference Diversity Linguistics: Retrospect and Prospect at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Leipzig, Germany. 2015-05-01 - 2015-05-03.

    Abstract

    Recent work in the L&C department in MPI Nijmegen has explored the processing implications of the core ecological niche for language learning and use, namely interactive conversation. It turns out that the rapidity of turn-exchange puts extreme requirements on predictive comprehension and speedy production, reflected e.g. in the trouble kids have to approach adult norms. This strong functional pressure must have implications for language typology. But what exactly? This paper explores what we have recently found out about differing processing in different word orders, and the ways in which the tough processing requirements of conversation can be buffered.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Turn-taking and the pragmatic origins of language. Talk presented at the 14th International Pragmatics Conference. Antwerp, Belgium. 2015-07-26 - 2015-07-31.

    Abstract

    Within the confines of this mini-plenary I’ll try to sketch how turn-taking may have played a crucial role in molding the origins and shape of language. First, I’ll run through some of our recent findings that reveal the intensive cognitive processing that underlies turn-taking – measuring response-timing, gaze, the acoustics, breathing, and EEG. These findings suggest that the turn-taking system stretches cognitive processing to the limit. Asking why the system is the way it is, I’ll advance the argument that language as we now know it may have emerged from the growth of a rich information-encoding system in the context of an antecedent turn-taking system, so that increasingly complex messages became squeezed into short turns, with the consequence of extreme compression, inference enrichment of the Gricean kind, tendency for fixed word orders, etc. Some support for this account can also be found in ontogenetic and phylogenetic studies of turn-taking.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Turn-taking, language processing and the evolution of language [Keynote lecture]. Talk presented at Language Sciences Annual Symposium 2015. Cambridge, UK. 2015-11.

    Abstract

    The diversity of languages contrasts with the universality of much of the communicational infrastructure that makes language possible. An important component of this infrastructure is the turn-taking system of conversation, the Stephen Levinsoncore ecological niche for language use. This system puts intense pressure on language processing: cross-linguistically, we mostly respond within 200 milliseconds, even though language encoding takes at least three times as long. It can be shown using many different measures (e.g. response times, breathing, EEG) that we beat the clock by predicting what the other is going to say and starting production as soon as we can. This raises interesting questions about why this system is the way it is, what functional pressures it puts on language structure and language diversity, and how it originated, which I will briefly address. I will argue that the current system can best be understood within an evolutionary context in which the turn-taking system was antecedent to the complexities of modern language so that increasingly complex messages became squeezed into short turns, with the consequence of extreme compression, inference enrichment of the Gricean kind, a tendency for fixed word orders, amongst other things. Some support for this account can be found in ontogenetic and phylogenetic studies of turn-taking which I will briefly review.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Understanding language diversity: Scaling up in breadth and depth. Talk presented at the Scale up workshop: Meeting the challenge of the documentary enterprise at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Australian National University. Canberra, Australia. 2015-02-09 - 2015-02-11.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Review and response. Talk presented at the 3rd Workshop towards a Global Language Phylogeny at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Jena, Germany. 2015-10-22.
  • De Vos, C., Hilbrink, E., Alvarez van Tussenbroek, I., van Zuilen, M., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Modality-specific patterns in the development of joint attention in infants acquiring sign language natively. Poster presented at the International Conference on Sign Language Acquisition (ICSLA), Amsterdam.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Is turn timing dependent on language modality?. Talk presented at the 36th TABU Dag. Groningen, The Netherlands. 2015-06-04 - 2015-06-05.

    Abstract

    In spoken interactions, interlocutors carefully plan and time their utterances, minimising gaps and overlaps between consecutive turns.1 Cross-linguistic comparison indicates that spoken languages vary minimally in their turn timing.2 Pre-linguistic vocal turn taking has also been attested in the first six months of life.3 These observations suggest that the turn-taking system provides a universal basis for our linguistic capacities.4 It remains an open question, however, whether precisely-timed turn taking is solely a property of speech. It has previously been argued that, unlike speakers, signers do not attend to the one-at-a-time principle, and instead form a collaborative turn-taking floor with their interlocutors, thus having a higher degree of social tolerance for overlap.5 But recent corpus analyses of Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) have revealed that, although simultaneous signing is more frequent in NGT than overlapping speech in spoken languages, the additional overlap may come as a consequence of having larger and thus slower articulators.6 The beginnings and ends of signed utterances are bookended by preparatory and retractive movements — phonetically necessary articulations that do not add to the interpretation of the utterance.7 When turn timing is calculated on the basis of stroke-to-stroke turn boundaries, NGT turn timing and turn overlap are consistent with documented averages for spoken turn taking.6 This paper presents new experimental evidence supporting the psychological reality of stroke-to-stroke turn boundaries for signers by using an adapted button-press paradigm, originally developed for measuring spoken turn prediction.8 Our results indicate that signers indeed anticipated turn boundaries at the ends of turn-final strokes. These findings are the first to experimentally support the idea that signers use something like stroke-to-stroke turn boundaries to coordinate conversational turns. They also suggest that linguistic processing, represented by participant age and age of acquisition, plays a role in the ability to use precisely-timed turns in conversation.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Experimental evidence for stroke-to-stroke turn-boundary prediction in signed conversations. Poster presented at Formal and Experimental Approaches to Sign Language Theory (FEAST), Barcelona.
  • De Vos, C., Casillas, M., Crasborn, O., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Supersnel NGT: onderzoeksresultaten uit de Gebarenbus [invited talk]. Talk presented at Instituut voor Gebaren, Taal & Dovenstudies. Hogeschool Utrecht.

    Abstract

    In spontane gesprekken wisselen gebaarders steeds vlug van beurt. Gebarentaalgebruikers moeten daarom steeds op het juiste moment naar de juiste persoon kijken. Hoe voorspellen gebaarders wanneer de beurt gaat wisselen en wie deze overneemt? Wij hebben de eerste vraag onderzocht door verschillende groepen gebarentaalgebruikers (doven en horenden, jong en oud, verschillende regios) te testen. Omdat er in Nijmegen weinig (dove) gebaarders wonen, hebben we dit gedaan in ons lab op wielen: de Gebarenbus.
  • Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Cognitive processes involved in turn-taking within Dutch question-answer sequences: An EEG-study. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.

    Abstract

    In experimental psycholinguistics, research has focused overwhelmingly on either language comprehension or language production. However, the ultimate goal should be to identify the cognitive mechanisms that occur during the actual use of comprehension and production in everyday life, for example in conversation. Turn-taking (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974) and action-sequencing (Schegloff, 2007) are essential mechanisms in everyday communication, but have not been studied much yet in the domain of experimental psycholinguistics (but see De Ruiter, Mitterer, & Enfield, 2006; Magyari & De Ruiter, 2012; Roberts, Francis, & Morgan, 2006). CA, on the other hand, has focused extensively on these mechanisms, via observing the behavior of conversationalists. To bring these two research domains closer together, in the present study, we aim to look at the cognitive processes that form the foundations for observable turn-taking and action-sequencing behavior in social interaction. We used electroencephalography (EEG), a method that measures electrical brain activity with a very good time resolution, to address this question. In EEG, experimental control is necessary to identify patterns of brain activity related to specific cognitive processes. Using an interactive quiz paradigm in Dutch, we investigated the processes underlying turn-taking in question-answer sequences, while still exerting enough experimental control over both the presented questions and expected answers. Participants were asked quiz questions by a research assistant while their EEG was measured. These questions were in fact pre-recorded, but participants believed they were asked live and they did receive live feedback from the assistant. We compared 'early questions' such as "Which character, also called 007, appears in the famous movies?" in which answer planning could start early in the question (at "007") with matched 'late questions' like "Which character from the famous movies, is also called 007?" in which answer planning could only start at the last word. Reaction times were longer for answers ("James Bond") to late than to early questions. Averaging the EEG signal to the critical word ("007" in the example) in both types of questions, we first see a small N400 effect (Kutas & Hillyard, 1980), a negative effect after about 400 milliseconds, which has been related to processing of unexpected words in a sentence. After this negativity, a large positive effect emerges which appears to be sustained until the response. We tentatively interpret this positivity to reflect a cognitive process associated with the response, such as the retrieval of the answer or the planning of production. These results thus show that in a question-answer sequence, speakers appear to start planning their response immediately when they have enough information to do so. Further results in the domain of brain oscillations and localizations of the effects in the brain will also be discussed. These results imply that cognitive processes might have a different timing than interactional processes. In some cases (as in our 'early questions'), the cognitive processes might be ready while interactionally the answer has to be postponed until the speaker finished speaking, possibly freeing up cognitive resources for a better timing of the response, for example. In other cases, cognitive processes might still be ongoing while the speaker has already finished her turn, for example when the question is difficult, calling for other interactional mechanisms such as the use of fillers. Future studies might employ the patterns of brain activation found to determine the presence and timing of cognitive processes within different types of action-sequences.
  • Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Neural correlates of speech preparation in interactive turn-taking: An early start?. Poster presented at the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL 2014), Amsterdam.

    Abstract

    In psycholinguistic experiments on language processing, researchers have traditionally focused on either comprehension or production. However, real-life, communicative language use happens most often in an interactive setting, involving rapid turn-taking between interlocutors. In such a setting, listening to a turn probably overlaps with preparing an answer to this turn. In the current EEG experiment, participants answered quiz questions, asked by the experimenter. Unknowingly to participants, these questions were pre-recorded, while the experimenter gave live feedback on participants’ answers. Questions appeared in two different conditions. Participants could confidently guess the answer to the question either halfway through the question (e.g., "Which character, also known as James Bond, appears in the famous movies?"), or only when they heard the last word(s) (e.g., "Which character, who appears in the famous movies, is also known as James Bond?"). Participants took longer to respond to the latter than the former question type, indicating that they start response preparation already during the question if they can, but leaving open when exactly production planning starts. ERP results showed a small N400 effect (Kutas & Hillyard, 1984), followed by a large positivity time-locked to the moment within the question that the answer started to become apparent (the critical point), relative to an equivalent position in the other condition. The N400 effect likely reflects the comprehension of the question, caused by a difference in the predictability of the words. In contrast, the positivity is more likely to be triggered by production processes, which was supported by source localisations of this effect in language production areas (e.g., Broca’s area and the temporal lobe, Indefrey & Levelt, 2004). In the frequency domain, less power in the alpha/mu band was found, starting within 500 milliseconds after the critical point. A follow-up control-experiment in which participants only listened to the questions and tried to remember them, was necessary to determine to what extent the positivity in the ERPs and the alpha/mu decrease indeed reflected production processes. Such a control-experiment showed a qualitatively similar pattern in the ERPs. However, the N400 was larger and the positivity was smaller and not localized in production areas, in contrast to the positivity in the main experiment. The effect in the alpha/mu band was absent or at least very much reduced. In combination with the localisations from the main experiment, we tentatively interpret the relative decrease in alpha/mu power as a signal of a shift of attention from comprehension to production-related processing. In all, both this effect and the positivity in the ERPs suggest that response preparation in interactive turn-taking situations starts quickly (within half a second) after an appropriate response can be retrieved. References Indefrey, P., & Levelt, W. J. (2004). The spatial and temporal signatures of word production components. Cognition, 92, 101-144. Kutas, M., & Hillyard, S. A. (1984). Brain potentials during reading reflect word expectancy and semantic association. Nature, 307, 161–163.
  • Byun, K.-S., Bradford, A., Zeshan, U., Levinson, S. C., & De Vos, C. (2014). First encounters - Repair sequences in 'Cross-signing'. Poster presented at The International Summer School 2014: Current Issues in Sign Language Linguistics (CISL), Institute of Deaf Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University Prague.
  • Byun, K.-S., Bradford, A., Levinson, S. C., Zeshan, U., & De Vos, C. (2014). Repair sequences in cross-signing: the relationship between try markers and fast track repair sequences. Talk presented at International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS 2014). San Diego. 2014-07-08 - 2014-07-11.
  • Dediu, D., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Language and speech are old: A review of the evidence and consequences for modern linguistic diversity. Talk presented at the 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EvoLang X). Vienna, Austria. 2014-04-14 - 2014-04-17.
  • Dingemanse, M., Enfield, N. J., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gisladottir, R. S., Kendrick, K. H., Levinson, S. C., Manrique, E., & Rossi, G. (2014). Other-initiated repair across languages: A systematic comparison. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis [ICCA 2014]. University of California at Los Angeles, CA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.
  • Gisladottir, R. S., Chwilla, D. J., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Neuropragmatics and conversation: Experimental findings on action ascription. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.

    Abstract

    In order to produce relevant responses in conversation, participants monitor turns at talk for the actions they perform, actions such as requests, offers, complaints, etc. (Schegloff, 2007). However, the link between turn construction and action is not straightforward. Turns at talk do not contain discrete ‘illocutionary force indicators’, and what subtle action cues are available, such as interrogative syntax, can be overridden by top-down factors like epistemic status (Heritage, 2012). Given that utterances are often underspecified for action, how is it that participants recognize actions so efficiently, as evidenced by the extraordinarily fast transitions between turns (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974; Stivers et al., 2009; Levinson, 2013)? As the first step in investigating the cognitive underpinnings of action recognition in conversation, we conducted Event-Related Potential (ERP) experiments using short scripted dialogues in Dutch. The excellent time resolution of ERPs allows us to track listeners’ brain responses as utterances unfold. The critical utterances were assertions (e.g., “I have a credit card”) produced in three sequential environments, affording different ascriptions of the action; as an answer to a question, as an indirect rejection, or as a pre-offer. In each case the assertion is used as a vehicle for some other action, and it is “part of competent membership in the society/culture and being a competent interactant to analyze assertions of this sort for what (else) they may be doing at this moment, at this juncture of the interaction, in this specific sequential context” (Schegloff, 2007, p. 35). We tapped into this competence by exploring the time-course of action recognition, using the following rationale: If comprehension at the action level takes place early in the incoming utterance, enabling quick turn transitions, we should find ERP differences between the actions at the first word or the verb. On the other hand, if action comprehension requires analysis of the complete utterance, ERP effects are expected to predominantly occur at the final word. The results indicate that recipients tune in to the action of an utterance as early as 400 ms after first word onset. However, the time-course of speech act comprehension depends on the specific action. Rejections elicit an ERP effect at the first word and the verb, but not at the final word. We take this to show that when the utterance is a second pair part in an adjacency pair sequence – as was the case in the rejections – recipients seem to recognize the action before the final word, even though the final word is a critical part of the propositional content. The pre-offers, on the other hand, do elicit an ERP component at the end of the utterance, suggesting that analysis of the entire turn is needed to understand the action. These findings indicate that utterance interpretation is sensitive to specific actions and how they are organized in sequences. By bridging conversation analysis and neuropragmatics we have come one step closer to understanding language comprehension in its natural habitat, where action is omnirelevant (Schegloff, 1995).
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Conversational turn-taking during infancy: Longitudinal observations and experimental assessment. Talk presented at the 13th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL 2014). Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2014-07-14 - 2014-07-18.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Turn-taking and its timing in infancy: A longitudinal study. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.
  • Hilbrink, E., Casillas, M., Bobb, S., Clark, E. V., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Turn-timing in naturalistic mother-child interactions: A longitudinal perspective. Poster presented at the 19th Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). The development of turn-timing in infancy: Assessing comprehension and production. Poster presented at the 19th Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). The development of vocal turn-taking in infancy: Examining infant and maternal contributions. Talk presented at the 13th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL 2014 ). Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2014-07-14 - 2014-07-18.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). The development of vocal turn-timing in infancy: Examining infant and maternal contributions. Talk presented at the conference of the Vereniging Nederlandse Ontwikkelingspsychologie (VNOP). Wageningen, The Netherlands. 2014-05-20.
  • Kendrick, K. H., Brown, P., Dingemanse, M., Floyd, S., Gipper, S., Hayano, K., Hoey, E., Hoymann, G., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Sequence organization: A universal infrastructure for action. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis. University of California at Los Angeles, CA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.

    Abstract

    The insight that language and other social behavior should be analyzed sequentially – unit-by-unit, turn-by-turn, action-by-action – is arguably the central methodological innovation of conversation analysis. The force of this insight motivated early investigations into the sequential organization of phenomena such as laughter (Jefferson et al. 1977), jokes (Sacks 1974a, 1978), and story-telling (Sacks 1974b; Jefferson 1978). Although sequentiality is a general concern in all conversation-analytic research, it has been the primary object of study in a line of work on one specific form of sequence organization, the adjacency pair (Schegloff 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 2007; Schegloff and Sacks 1973). An adjacency pair is a sequential structure of two actions, produced by two participants, where the second action is contingent upon and normatively obliged by the production of the first (e.g., greeting-greeting, question-answer, request-acceptance/rejection). Though not all courses of action are organized through adjacency pairs, adjacency pairs are used to manage many basic social and communicative contingencies, including the transfer of goods, services, and information (offers, requests, statements, questions), and the initiation and termination of social encounters (openings, closings), among others (Schegloff and Sacks 1973). The rich tradition of research on the adjacency pair and its organization has been based almost exclusively on audio and video recordings of social interaction made in the U.S. and U.K. Psychologists warn us that research on WEIRD people, that is, people form Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies, may not generalize beyond this niche of outliers to the species as a whole (Henrich et al. 2010). While previous comparative research gives us reason to suspect that, unlike some psychological experiments, the core findings of conversation analysis successfully generalize beyond Anglo-American culture (see, e.g., Sidnell 2007, 2009; Stivers et al. 2009; Dingemanse and Floyd, in press), the linguistic and cultural universality of sequence organization remains an open question. In this talk, we report on a collaborative investigation of sequence organization in 12 languages from distinct linguistic stocks and different geographical areas. We begin with a basic empirical question: Is sequence organization, as described by Schegloff (2007), universal? To answer this, we draw on video recordings of everyday social interaction made in fieldsites across the globe, with speakers of the following languages: ǂAkhoe Haiǀǀom (Khoisan; Namibia), Cha’palaa (Barbacoan; Ecuador), English (Germanic; U.S. and U.K.), Italian (Romance; Italy), Japanese (Japonic; Japan), LSA (sign language; Argentina), Mandarin Chinese (Sinitic; Taiwan), Siwu (Kwa; Ghana), Turkmen (Turkic; Turkmenistan), Tzeltal (Mayan; Mexico), Yélî Dnye (isolate; Papua New Guinea), and Yurakaré (isolate; Bolivia). With the model of sequence organization in English as our point of departure (Schegloff 2007), we examine the structures that the speakers of these languages use to construct courses of action – unit-by-unit, turn-by-turn, action-by-action. While the primary object of study is the adjacency pair and its systematic expansion (Schegloff 2007; Levinson 2013), we also explore culture-specific forms of action-sequencing, such as the proliferation of repetitional post-expansions in Tzeltal, which can span six turns or more, and “broadcasting” in ǂAkhoe Haiǀǀom, in which speakers produce multi-unit tellings that neither occasion displays of recipiency nor solicit responses from those around them. The results of our preliminary investigation reveal that all languages in the sample make use of the basic machinery of the adjacency pair and its expansion. In each language, we observe not only base adjacency pair sequences, but also pre-expansions, insert expansions, and post-expansions, as well as subtypes of these (see Schegloff 2007). The occurrence of these structures across a diverse sample of unrelated languages and cultures leads us to conclude that the structures do not belong to “language” or “culture” per se, but rather to a universal infrastructure for social interaction, an interaction engine (Levinson 2006) that all humans and human societies have in common and for which precursors may even be found among our nearest cousins, the apes (Rossano 2013). In agreement with Schegloff (2006), we propose that these structures emerge as solutions to recurrent socio-interactional problems, which are themselves basic to human sociality.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Brown, P. (2014). "Face" on the face: Ambivalence, facial expression and teasing. Talk presented at the UCLA Center for Language, Interaction, and Culture (CLIC) workshop 'About Face'. Los Angeles, US. 2014-02-07 - 2014-02-08.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2014). The social life of milliseconds: New perspectives on timing and projection in turn-taking [Plenary talk]. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.

    Abstract

    The path-breaking paper by Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson (1974) on turn-taking was a crucial foundation stone in the establishment of CA: turn-taking gives conversation its essential character and its analysis can be exploited to shed light on 101 further topics. Despite continuing work by a handful of scholars, we have thus learnt to take the phenomenon largely for granted. But recent work now shows just how extraordinary the turn - taking phenomenon is from a cognitive perspective, and makes clear that there is still a great deal to be explained about how the system actually works in detail (e.g. how turn-ends are actually projected). In this paper,drawing on the joint work of our MPI Nijmegen research project, I will bring many different avenues of investigation – from human development, the phonetics of breathing and intonation, psycholog ical experimentation, brain -imaging and cross -cultural and cross -linguistic perspectives –to bear on the underlying issues about how the system works in real time. One central psycholinguistic puzzle is that speech encoding is very slow, but turn -transition very fast, implying much more extensive projection than had been commonly imagined. These different lines of investigation also hint at a phylogenetically ancient interactive system that may have played a central role in the evolution of language.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2014). The core ecological niche for language use and its implications for language processing. Talk presented at the Centre for Language Studies Colloquium series, Radboud University. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2014-12-11.

    Abstract

    This talk will focus on a central property of interactional uses of language, namely turn-taking, and show how this has major implications for language processing. I’ll sketch how the PI Group ‘Interactional Foundations of Language’ is exploring these issues, using insights arising from many different domains (prosody, breathing, gaze, cross-linguistic and cross-modal studies, human development) and many different methods (corpus studies, perception experiments, eyetracking, brain imaging). I’ll outline an interim model of how we think it all works, and (time-permitting) broach some implications for language typology, and ask where such a system comes from.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2015). Review and response. Talk presented at the 2nd Workshop Towards a Global Language Phylogeny. Onetangi, Waiheke Island, New Zealand. 2015-02-22 - 2015-02-26.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2014). Review and response. Talk presented at the Workshop towards a Global Language Phylogeny at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Jena, Germany. 2014-09-17 - 2014-09-20.
  • Roberts, S. G., Dediu, D., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Detecting differences between the languages of Neandertals and modern humans. Talk presented at the 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EvoLang X). Vienna, Austria. 2014-04-14 - 2014-04-17.

    Abstract

    Dediu and Levinson (2013) argue that Neandertals had essentially modern language and speech, and that they were in genetic contact with the ancestors of modern humans during our dispersal out of Africa. This raises the possibility of cultural and linguistic contact between the two human lineages. If such contact did occur, then it might have influenced the cultural evolution of the languages. Since the genetic traces of contact with Neandertals are limited to the populations outside of Africa, Dediu & Levinson predict that there may be structural differences between the present-day languages derived from languages in contact with Neanderthals, and those derived from languages that were not influenced by such contact. Since the signature of such deep contact might reside in patterns of features, they suggested that machine learning methods may be able to detect these differences. This paper attempts to test this hypothesis and to estimate particular linguistic features that are potential candidates for carrying a signature of Neandertal languages.
  • Roberts, S. G., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Interaction constraints variation in linguistic structure. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.

    Abstract

    In this talk we suggest that the constraints on language processing and planning imposed by the structuring of interaction into turns at talk can affect the evolution of structural features of languages, such as basic word order. Speakers strive to reduce gaps and overlap between turns at talk (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson, 1974). Indeed, most gaps between turns are shorter than the minimum reaction time from planning to speak to actually speaking, suggesting that speakers project turn endings, and begin planning responses before the previous turn has ended. Recent research has demonstrated variation in the timing of turn-taking between speakers of different languages (Stivers et al., 2009). There is also variation between languages in the structure of individual turns, such as the basic order of subject, object and verb. There may be links between these two phenomena (Schegloff, 1996), mediated by the speaker’s planning of an utterance or the listener’s projection of the utterance. For instance, in Japanese, the verb appears at the end of an utterance, making projection difficult for the listener (Tanaka, 2000). Interestingly, the shortest average gaps occur for a verb-initial language (Tzeltal), which should make planning for the speaker difficult. We take a cultural evolutionary approach to this puzzle. If the basic timing of turn-taking is a fundamental principle of human languages (Levinson, 2006), then linguistic structures may have adapted to the constraints of turn-taking. For example, if the verb provides the syntactic frame for a sentence, then its position in the sentence might adapt to several pressures: verbs in final position give speakers more time to plan the most complex component of the turn; verbs in initial position allow recipients to project the shape of the turn relatively early. If speakers use the same configuration in a sequence of turns, then the amount of time for planning between each turn is optimised – what we call the principle of symmetry. Another constraint is that verbs in medial position are less vulnerable to overlap on the margins of the turn. We present a cultural evolutionary model as a proof of this concept. While many explanations of the origins and structure of language focus on constraints on individual cognition, this hypothesis suggests that constraints of interaction between individuals can also shape the distribution of structural features that we observe in the world’s languages.
  • Torreira, F., Bögels, S., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). Breathing and speech planning in turn-taking. Talk presented at the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production: Satellite Workshop on “Interpersonal coordination and phonetic convergence". Cologne, Germany. 2014-05-04 - 2014-05-04.
  • De Vos, C., Torreira, F., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). The timing of question-answer sequences in signed conversations: Data from the NGT Interactive Corpus. Talk presented at the 4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA14). Los Angeles, CA, USA. 2014-06-25 - 2014-06-29.
  • De Vos, C., Torreira, F., & Levinson, S. C. (2014). The timing of question-answer sequences in signed conversations: data from the NGT Interactive Corpus. Talk presented at Interactional foundations of language: Social, cultural, cognitive, and developmental perspectives. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2014-06-11.
  • Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). EEG correlates of processes related to turn-taking in an interactive quiz paradigm. Talk presented at the NVP (Netherlands Psychonomics Organization) Winterconference. Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands. 2013-12-19 - 2013-12-21.

    Abstract

    In psycholinguistic experiments on language processing, researchers have traditionally focused on either comprehension or production. However, real-life, communicative language use happens most often in an interactive setting, involving rapid turn-taking between interlocutors. In such a setting, listening to a turn probably overlaps with preparing an answer to this turn. In the current EEG experiment, participants answered quiz questions, asked by the experimenter. Unknowingly to participants, these questions were pre-recorded, while the experimenter gave live feedback on participants’ answers. Questions appeared in two different conditions. Participants could confidently guess the answer to the question either halfway through the question (e.g., "Which character, also known as James Bond, appears in the famous movies?"), or only when they heard the last word(s) (e.g., "Which character, who appears in the famous movies, is also known as James Bond?"). ERP results showed a small N400 effect, followed by a large positivity at the moment within the question that the answer started to become apparent (the critical point). In the frequency domain, an alpha/mu desynchronization effect was found, starting within 500 milliseconds after the critical point. A follow-up control-experiment in which participants only listened to the questions and tried to remember them, showed a qualitatively similar pattern in the ERPs, but with a larger N400 and a smaller positivity. The alpha/mu desynchronization effect was absent or at least very much redu ced. We tentatively interpret the alpha/mu desynchronization from the main experiment as a signal of response preparation, starting quickly after an appropriate response can be retrieved
  • Casillas, M., Hilbrink, E., Bobb, S. C., Clark, E. V., Gattis, M.-L., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Turn-timing in naturalistic mother-child interactions: A longitudinal perspective. Poster presented at DialDam: Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (Semdial), Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Combining data from two longitudinal studies of young children, we track the development of turn-timing in spontaneous infant-caregiver interactions. We focus on three aspects of timing: overlap, gap, and delay marking. We find evidence for early development of turn-timing skills, in-line with the Interaction Engine Hypothesis. (see attached .pdf for our 2-page abstract)
  • Enfield, N. J., Dingemanse, M., Rossi, G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gisladottir, R. S., Levinson, S. C., Kendrick, K. H., Manrique, E., & Roberts, S. G. (2013). Towards a typology of systems of language use: The case of other-initiated repair. Talk presented at the 13th International Pragmatics Conference. New Delhi, India. 2013-09-08 - 2013-09-13.

    Abstract

    This presentation will report on the findings of a large-scale comparative project on other-initiated repair in 12 languages, representing major and minor languages of Europe, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, South America, and Papua New Guinea (and including a sign language). This comparative project is based on a multilanguage corpus of video-recorded interaction in informal settings in homes and villages, among family and friends. Building on findings from qualitative work, a research team in the "Interactional Foundations of Language" Project at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen has developed a detailed coding scheme for the systematic comparison of other-initiated repair sequences across languages. These languages belong to different language families, have different typological profiles, and are spoken by members of distinctly different cultures. Despite the diversity of languages and cultures represented, the findings of this study show a striking set of commonalities in the sequential and formal organization of other-initiated repair. This lends some support to an ''interactional infrastructure'' hypothesis, which suggests that interactional structures are more likely to be universal than lexico-grammatical structures. At the same time, however, we also observe differences across the languages in how the common system of possibilities for other-initiated repair is used: for example, while most if not all languages allow speakers to use both an interjection ("Huh?") and a WH-word ("What?") strategy for ''open-class other-initiation of repair'', the relative frequency of these strategies varies, with English showing quite common use of ''What?'' for this function, but with many other languages almost exclusively using a ''Huh?'' strategy. The presentation will summarize and explain findings of the coding study, with reference not only to the different strategies available for other-initiation of repair, but also the kinds of repair operations that can be carried out as a function of the choice of repair initiator. There will also be some discussion of the relevance of these results to our understanding of the cultural status of rights and responsibilities in the domain of social agency.
  • Gisladottir, R. S., Chwilla, D., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Early speech act comprehension in spoken dialogue: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 5th Biennial Conference of Experimental Pragmatics (XPRAG 2013), Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  • Gisladottir, R. S., Chwilla, D., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Speech act comprehension in spoken dialogue: An ERP study. Poster presented at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS 2013), San Francisco, CA.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., Sakkalou, E., Ellis-Davies, K., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Development of turn-taking during infancy: Does the infant contribute?. Talk presented at the 5th Joint Action Meeting. Berlin. 2013-07-26 - 2013-07-29.

    Abstract

    To develop into competent communicators infants need to learn to appropriately time their turns in social interaction. Few studies have assessed the actual timing of turn-taking in infant development and debate continues about whether infants actively contribute to the turn-taking. In order to assess whether changes in infants’ vocal turntaking abilities as they get older are really attributable to infants’ improving skills, we analyzed video recordings of 12 mother-infant dyads in free-play interactions longitudinally at 12 and 18 months. Findings indicate that in the first half of the second year of life infants become more skilled in taking turns in vocal exchanges, as evidenced by decreasing onset times of their turns as well as a decrease in the percentage of onsets produced in overlap with their mothers. These changes are not explained by the mothers providing more opportunities to their infants to take their turn. The mean number of utterances produced by the mother did not differ significantly at 12 and 18 months, mothers did not shorten their utterances, nor did they increase the pauses between their consecutive turns. We therefore conclude that infants play an active part in vocal turn-taking exchanges with their mothers and its developmental progress.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). The timing of turns in mother-infant interactions: A longitudinal study. Poster presented at the Modelling meets Infant Studies in Language Acquisition Workshop, Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). The timing of turns in mother-infant interactions: A longitudinal study. Poster presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2013), Berlin, Germany.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Turn-taking and its timing in infancy: A longitudinal study at 3-, 4- and 5- months. Poster presented at Child Language Seminar, Manchester, UK.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Emmorey, K. (Eds.). (2013). Language evolving: Genes and culture in ongoing language evolution [Seminar]. Talk presented at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting: The Beauty and Benefits of Science. Boston, MA. 2013-02-14 - 2013-02-18.

    Abstract

    The theory of evolution is “unreasonably effective” (in Wigner’s terms) in that it seems to apply to both biological evolution and cultural change -- domains that might seem completely unrelated. Nowhere is this parallelism clearer than in the domain of language, where there is both an evolved biological basis for language and processes of cultural evolution that lie behind the diversification of languages. Language is clearly a bio-cultural hybrid -- we are biologically equipped for language in general, but inherit the specific cultural form of the languages in which we are socialized. This symposium explores the genetic foundations of language, the phylogenetic patterns of cultural diversification in language, and the ongoing interplay between biological and cultural evolution. Individual papers will address the relation between linguistic ability, brain, and genes; the biological basis for communicative interaction; the phylogenetic patterns in language diversification both in form and content; the effects of population genetics on language diversification; and the case of village sign languages: the interplay between genetics and language type. The papers suggest that one reason that evolutionary theory applies so well to both biological and cultural phenomena is that the two are intertwined and in ongoing interaction. Organizer: Stephen C. Levinson, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Co-Organizer: Karen Emmorey, Ph.D., San Diego State University Discussant: Dan Dediu, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Speakers: Simon E. Fisher, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Language, Evolution, and the Genomics Revolution Russell Gray, University of Auckland Evolutionary Principles and the Diversification of Linguistic Form Carol Padden, University of California Culture Before Genes: The Case of a Village Sign Language
  • Levinson, S. C. (2013). Introduction to emerging sign languages. Talk presented at the MPG Minerva-Gentner Symposium on Emergent Languages and Cultural Evolution. Berg en Dal, the Netherlands. 2013-06-20 - 2013-06-23.

    Abstract

    de novo languages – only sign languages: village sign languages & home sign How do you build a language from the ground up? Is there a ‘starting base’? If so, what is it? What elements get innovated in what order, and why? How quickly does system get imposed? For real language isolates like village sign systems, what apogee of structure is got in c. 5-7 generations? Strand (1) from gesture to home sign (seeding of sign, iconicity, single generation…)Strand (2) village sign languages (5+ generations, small demography, 2nd L signers…, effects of local gesture systems)Strand (3) urban community sign languages with recent take-off (large demography, connections to other sign languages, systematic exploitation of the manual medium) Strand (4) genes & language: feedback relations
  • Levinson, S. C. (2013). Evolution, language diversity and 'the interaction engine'. Talk presented at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Leipzig, Germany. 2013-05-24.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2013). Exploring Language diversity: Wohin? [Keynote lecture]. Talk presented at the Language Documentation: Past – Present – Future Conference. Hannover, Germany. 2013-06-05 - 2013-06-05.

    Abstract

    Supplementary material: Stephen C. Levinson's keynote lecture, "Exploring language diversity: Wohin?", as recorded (05-06-2013) and broadcast (25-09-2013) by DRadio Wissen. * To save and/or listen to the mp3 file: please right-click on the link, and select the 'Save Link As...' option. * Source: http://www.dradiowissen.de/ Length: 45 min.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2013). The original sin of cognitive science. Talk presented at the British Academy, workshop on The Cognitive Revolution 60 years on. London. 2013-09-26 - 2013-09-27.

    Abstract

    The properties that make our species special, namely language, technology and culture, are all ‘bio-cultural hybrids’ interweaving biology (e.g. anatomy of vocal tract and hand, cooperative instincts) and cultural diversity. But at the birth of the cognitive sciences a radical idealization was made, namely the assumption of THE human mind, a singular system shared by all humans. This idealization, useful at the time, now hampers the understanding of our species, whose success is predicated on diverse cultural adaptations. This paper will illustrate how in the language domain, different languages require different algorithms served by different neural networks, yielding differing minds and brains.
  • Norcliffe, E., Konopka, A. E., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Word order affects the time-course of sentence formulation in Tzeltal. Talk presented at the 26th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing (CUNY 2013). Columbia, SC. 2013-03-21 - 2013-03-23.
  • Sauppe, S., Norcliffe, E., Konopka, A. E., Van Valin Jr., R. D., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Planning units in Tagalog sentence production: Evidence from eye tracking. Poster presented at the 26th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Columbia, SC.
  • Sauppe, S., Norcliffe, E., Konopka, A. E., Van Valin Jr., R. D., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Dependencies first: Eye-tracking evidence from sentence production in Tagalog. Talk presented at the 35th meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Berlin, Germany. 2013-07-31 - 2013-08-03.
  • Sauppe, S., Norcliffe, E., Konopka, A. E., Van Valin Jr., R. D., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Typology and planning scope in sentence production: eye-tracking evidence from Tzeltal and Tagalog. Talk presented at the 10th Biennial Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology. Leipzig. 2013-08-15 - 2013-08-18.
  • Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2012). Cultural differences and universals in interaction. Talk presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. San Francisco, CA. 2012-11-14 - 2012-11-18.
  • Gisladottir, R. S., Chwilla, D., Schriefers, H., & Levinson, S. C. (2012). Speech act recognition in conversation: Experimental evidence. Poster presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2012), Sapporo, Japan.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2012). Re–centering the study of language on its communicational foundations [Keynote lecture]. Talk presented at the 4th UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference, King's college. London. 2012-07-10 - 2012-07-12.

    Abstract

    Recent work in semantic and syntactic typology reinforces the idea that most of the structure of languages and especially the patterned variation across them is cultural rather than innate. This leaves somewhat unexplained why humans have languages of a kind that other species don’t. The explanation, I’ll argue, is that there is a rich underlying universal infrastructure of communicational abilities that must fundamentally affect the way languages are organized. I’ll review two aspects of this infrastructure: turn-taking and speech act coding and explore how this communication perspective might have substantial consequences for how we think about language structure.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2012). Introduction to linguistic relativity. Talk presented at the workshop Relations in Relativity: New Perspectives on Language and Thought. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2012-05-09 - 2012-05-11.

    Abstract

  • Levinson, S. C. (2012). Connections across modalities in interaction. Talk presented at the Workshop on Modalities in Interaction, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2012-10-04.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2012). The role of genetic and cultural processes in language. Talk presented at the Ernst-Strungmann Forum on Cultural Evolution. Frankfurt, Germany. 2012-05-27 - 2012-06-02.

    Abstract

    This paper begins from the observation that human communication systems are unique in the animal world in varying on every level of form and meaning across social groups. There are some 7000 languages, each differing in sound systems, syntax, word formation and meaning distinctions. New information about the range of diversity and its historical origins has undercut the view that language diversity is tightly constrained by “universal grammar” or a language-specialized faculty or mental module. Instead languages seem rather to be historical accretions of finely honed practices, the product of cultural evolution and diversification over millennia.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2012). Words from other worlds. Talk presented at the Workshop on the 60th birthday of Prof. Gunter Senft at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 2012-08-30.
  • Norcliffe, E., Konopka, A. E., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2012). Linguistic structure and planning scope in language production: Evidence from Tzeltal. Talk presented at the Interactional Foundations of Language Workshop. Schloss Ringberg, Germany. 2012-11.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2011). A revolution in the language sciences?. Talk presented at The ALEAR workshop on The future of Linguistics. Barcelona, Spain. 2011-01-23 - 2011-01-25.

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