Publications

Displaying 1 - 36 of 36
  • Bentz, C., Dediu, D., Verkerk, A., & Jäger, G. (2018). Language family trees reflect geography and demography beyond neutral drift. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 38-40). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.006.
  • Brand, J., Monaghan, P., & Walker, P. (2018). Changing Signs: Testing How Sound-Symbolism Supports Early Word Learning. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 1398-1403). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Learning a language involves learning how to map specific forms onto their associated meanings. Such mappings can utilise arbitrariness and non-arbitrariness, yet, our understanding of how these two systems operate at different stages of vocabulary development is still not fully understood. The Sound-Symbolism Bootstrapping Hypothesis (SSBH) proposes that sound-symbolism is essential for word learning to commence, but empirical evidence of exactly how sound-symbolism influences language learning is still sparse. It may be the case that sound-symbolism supports acquisition of categories of meaning, or that it enables acquisition of individualized word meanings. In two Experiments where participants learned form-meaning mappings from either sound-symbolic or arbitrary languages, we demonstrate the changing roles of sound-symbolism and arbitrariness for different vocabulary sizes, showing that sound-symbolism provides an advantage for learning of broad categories, which may then transfer to support learning individual words, whereas an arbitrary language impedes acquisition of categories of sound to meaning.
  • Byun, K.-S., De Vos, C., Roberts, S. G., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Interactive sequences modulate the selection of expressive forms in cross-signing. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 67-69). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.012.
  • Cristia, A., Ganesh, S., Casillas, M., & Ganapathy, S. (2018). Talker diarization in the wild: The case of child-centered daylong audio-recordings. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 2583-2587). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-2078.

    Abstract

    Speaker diarization (answering 'who spoke when') is a widely researched subject within speech technology. Numerous experiments have been run on datasets built from broadcast news, meeting data, and call centers—the task sometimes appears close to being solved. Much less work has begun to tackle the hardest diarization task of all: spontaneous conversations in real-world settings. Such diarization would be particularly useful for studies of language acquisition, where researchers investigate the speech children produce and hear in their daily lives. In this paper, we study audio gathered with a recorder worn by small children as they went about their normal days. As a result, each child was exposed to different acoustic environments with a multitude of background noises and a varying number of adults and peers. The inconsistency of speech and noise within and across samples poses a challenging task for speaker diarization systems, which we tackled via retraining and data augmentation techniques. We further studied sources of structured variation across raw audio files, including the impact of speaker type distribution, proportion of speech from children, and child age on diarization performance. We discuss the extent to which these findings might generalize to other samples of speech in the wild.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2018). Asymmetric efficiency of juncture perception in L1 and L2. In K. Klessa, J. Bachan, A. Wagner, M. Karpiński, & D. Śledziński (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2018 (pp. 289-296). Baixas, France: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-59.

    Abstract

    In two experiments, Mandarin listeners resolved potential syntactic ambiguities in spoken utterances in (a) their native language (L1) and (b) English which they had learned as a second language (L2). A new disambiguation task was used, requiring speeded responses to select the correct meaning for structurally ambiguous sentences. Importantly, the ambiguities used in the study are identical in Mandarin and in English, and production data show that prosodic disambiguation of this type of ambiguity is also realised very similarly in the two languages. The perceptual results here showed however that listeners’ response patterns differed for L1 and L2, although there was a significant increase in similarity between the two response patterns with increasing exposure to the L2. Thus identical ambiguity and comparable disambiguation patterns in L1 and L2 do not lead to immediate application of the appropriate L1 listening strategy to L2; instead, it appears that such a strategy may have to be learned anew for the L2.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2018). Cue equivalence in prosodic entrainment for focus detection. In J. Epps, J. Wolfe, J. Smith, & C. Jones (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 153-156).

    Abstract

    Using a phoneme detection task, the present series of experiments examines whether listeners can entrain to different combinations of prosodic cues to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. The stimuli were recorded by four female native speakers of Australian English who happened to have used different prosodic cues to produce sentences with prosodic focus: a combination of duration cues, mean and maximum F0, F0 range, and longer pre-target interval before the focused word onset, only mean F0 cues, only pre-target interval, and only duration cues. Results revealed that listeners can entrain in almost every condition except for where duration was the only reliable cue. Our findings suggest that listeners are flexible in the cues they use for focus processing.
  • Cutler, A., Burchfield, L. A., & Antoniou, M. (2018). Factors affecting talker adaptation in a second language. In J. Epps, J. Wolfe, J. Smith, & C. Jones (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 33-36).

    Abstract

    Listeners adapt rapidly to previously unheard talkers by adjusting phoneme categories using lexical knowledge, in a process termed lexically-guided perceptual learning. Although this is firmly established for listening in the native language (L1), perceptual flexibility in second languages (L2) is as yet less well understood. We report two experiments examining L1 and L2 perceptual learning, the first in Mandarin-English late bilinguals, the second in Australian learners of Mandarin. Both studies showed stronger learning in L1; in L2, however, learning appeared for the English-L1 group but not for the Mandarin-L1 group. Phonological mapping differences from the L1 to the L2 are suggested as the reason for this result.
  • Delgado, T., Ravignani, A., Verhoef, T., Thompson, B., Grossi, T., & Kirby, S. (2018). Cultural transmission of melodic and rhythmic universals: Four experiments and a model. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 89-91). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.019.
  • Duarte, R., Uhlmann, M., Van den Broek, D., Fitz, H., Petersson, K. M., & Morrison, A. (2018). Encoding symbolic sequences with spiking neural reservoirs. In Proceedings of the 2018 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN). doi:10.1109/IJCNN.2018.8489114.

    Abstract

    Biologically inspired spiking networks are an important tool to study the nature of computation and cognition in neural systems. In this work, we investigate the representational capacity of spiking networks engaged in an identity mapping task. We compare two schemes for encoding symbolic input, one in which input is injected as a direct current and one where input is delivered as a spatio-temporal spike pattern. We test the ability of networks to discriminate their input as a function of the number of distinct input symbols. We also compare performance using either membrane potentials or filtered spike trains as state variable. Furthermore, we investigate how the circuit behavior depends on the balance between excitation and inhibition, and the degree of synchrony and regularity in its internal dynamics. Finally, we compare different linear methods of decoding population activity onto desired target labels. Overall, our results suggest that even this simple mapping task is strongly influenced by design choices on input encoding, state-variables, circuit characteristics and decoding methods, and these factors can interact in complex ways. This work highlights the importance of constraining computational network models of behavior by available neurobiological evidence.
  • Ergin, R., Senghas, A., Jackendoff, R., & Gleitman, L. (2018). Structural cues for symmetry, asymmetry, and non-symmetry in Central Taurus Sign Language. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 104-106). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.025.
  • Hopman, E., Thompson, B., Austerweil, J., & Lupyan, G. (2018). Predictors of L2 word learning accuracy: A big data investigation. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 513-518). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    What makes some words harder to learn than others in a second language? Although some robust factors have been identified based on small scale experimental studies, many relevant factors are difficult to study in such experiments due to the amount of data necessary to test them. Here, we investigate what factors affect the ease of learning of a word in a second language using a large data set of users learning English as a second language through the Duolingo mobile app. In a regression analysis, we test and confirm the well-studied effect of cognate status on word learning accuracy. Furthermore, we find significant effects for both cross-linguistic semantic alignment and English semantic density, two novel predictors derived from large scale distributional models of lexical semantics. Finally, we provide data on several other psycholinguistically plausible word level predictors. We conclude with a discussion of the limits, benefits and future research potential of using big data for investigating second language learning.
  • Huettig, F., Kolinsky, R., & Lachmann, T. (Eds.). (2018). The effects of literacy on cognition and brain functioning [Special Issue]. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(3).
  • Isbilen, E., Frost, R. L. A., Monaghan, P., & Christiansen, M. (2018). Bridging artificial and natural language learning: Comparing processing- and reflection-based measures of learning. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 1856-1861). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    A common assumption in the cognitive sciences is that artificial and natural language learning rely on shared mechanisms. However, attempts to bridge the two have yielded ambiguous results. We suggest that an empirical disconnect between the computations employed during learning and the methods employed at test may explain these mixed results. Further, we propose statistically-based chunking as a potential computational link between artificial and natural language learning. We compare the acquisition of non-adjacent dependencies to that of natural language structure using two types of tasks: reflection-based 2AFC measures, and processing-based recall measures, the latter being more computationally analogous to the processes used during language acquisition. Our results demonstrate that task-type significantly influences the correlations observed between artificial and natural language acquisition, with reflection-based and processing-based measures correlating within – but not across – task-type. These findings have fundamental implications for artificial-to-natural language comparisons, both methodologically and theoretically.
  • Janssen, R., Moisik, S. R., & Dediu, D. (2018). Agent model reveals the influence of vocal tract anatomy on speech during ontogeny and glossogeny. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 171-174). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.042.
  • Kanero, J., Franko, I., Oranç, C., Uluşahin, O., Koskulu, S., Adigüzel, Z., Küntay, A. C., & Göksun, T. (2018). Who can benefit from robots? Effects of individual differences in robot-assisted language learning. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Development and Learning and Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-EpiRob) (pp. 212-217). Piscataway, NJ, USA: IEEE.

    Abstract

    It has been suggested that some individuals may benefit more from social robots than do others. Using second language (L2) as an example, the present study examined how individual differences in attitudes toward robots and personality traits may be related to learning outcomes. Preliminary results with 24 Turkish-speaking adults suggest that negative attitudes toward robots, more specifically thoughts and anxiety about the negative social impact that robots may have on the society, predicted how well adults learned L2 words from a social robot. The possible implications of the findings as well as future directions are also discussed
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1985). Schriftlichkeit [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (59).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1976). Psycholinguistik [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (23/24).
  • Lattenkamp, E. Z., Vernes, S. C., & Wiegrebe, L. (2018). Mammalian models for the study of vocal learning: A new paradigm in bats. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 235-237). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.056.
  • Lefever, E., Hendrickx, I., Croijmans, I., Van den Bosch, A., & Majid, A. (2018). Discovering the language of wine reviews: A text mining account. In N. Calzolari, K. Choukri, C. Cieri, T. Declerck, S. Goggi, K. Hasida, H. Isahara, B. Maegaard, J. Mariani, H. Mazo, A. Moreno, J. Odijk, S. Piperidis, & T. Tokunaga (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018) (pp. 3297-3302). Paris: LREC.

    Abstract

    It is widely held that smells and flavors are impossible to put into words. In this paper we test this claim by seeking predictive patterns in wine reviews, which ostensibly aim to provide guides to perceptual content. Wine reviews have previously been critiqued as random and meaningless. We collected an English corpus of wine reviews with their structured metadata, and applied machine learning techniques to automatically predict the wine's color, grape variety, and country of origin. To train the three supervised classifiers, three different information sources were incorporated: lexical bag-of-words features, domain-specific terminology features, and semantic word embedding features. In addition, using regression analysis we investigated basic review properties, i.e., review length, average word length, and their relationship to the scalar values of price and review score. Our results show that wine experts do share a common vocabulary to describe wines and they use this in a consistent way, which makes it possible to automatically predict wine characteristics based on the review text alone. This means that odors and flavors may be more expressible in language than typically acknowledged.
  • Levelt, W. J. M., & Plomp, R. (1962). Musical consonance and critical bandwidth. In Proceedings of the 4th International Congress Acoustics (pp. 55-55).
  • Lopopolo, A., Frank, S. L., Van den Bosch, A., Nijhof, A., & Willems, R. M. (2018). The Narrative Brain Dataset (NBD), an fMRI dataset for the study of natural language processing in the brain. In B. Devereux, E. Shutova, & C.-R. Huang (Eds.), Proceedings of LREC 2018 Workshop "Linguistic and Neuro-Cognitive Resources (LiNCR) (pp. 8-11). Paris: LREC.

    Abstract

    We present the Narrative Brain Dataset, an fMRI dataset that was collected during spoken presentation of short excerpts of three stories in Dutch. Together with the brain imaging data, the dataset contains the written versions of the stimulation texts. The texts are accompanied with stochastic (perplexity and entropy) and semantic computational linguistic measures. The richness and unconstrained nature of the data allows the study of language processing in the brain in a more naturalistic setting than is common for fMRI studies. We hope that by making NBD available we serve the double purpose of providing useful neural data to researchers interested in natural language processing in the brain and to further stimulate data sharing in the field of neuroscience of language.
  • Lupyan, G., Wendorf, A., Berscia, L. M., & Paul, J. (2018). Core knowledge or language-augmented cognition? The case of geometric reasoning. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 252-254). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.062.
  • Micklos, A., Macuch Silva, V., & Fay, N. (2018). The prevalence of repair in studies of language evolution. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 316-318). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.075.
  • Mulder, K., Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2018). Analyzing EEG Signals in Auditory Speech Comprehension Using Temporal Response Functions and Generalized Additive Models. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 1452-1456). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1676.

    Abstract

    Analyzing EEG signals recorded while participants are listening to continuous speech with the purpose of testing linguistic hypotheses is complicated by the fact that the signals simultaneously reflect exogenous acoustic excitation and endogenous linguistic processing. This makes it difficult to trace subtle differences that occur in mid-sentence position. We apply an analysis based on multivariate temporal response functions to uncover subtle mid-sentence effects. This approach is based on a per-stimulus estimate of the response of the neural system to speech input. Analyzing EEG signals predicted on the basis of the response functions might then bring to light conditionspecific differences in the filtered signals. We validate this approach by means of an analysis of EEG signals recorded with isolated word stimuli. Then, we apply the validated method to the analysis of the responses to the same words in the middle of meaningful sentences.
  • Räsänen, O., Seshadri, S., & Casillas, M. (2018). Comparison of syllabification algorithms and training strategies for robust word count estimation across different languages and recording conditions. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 1200-1204). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1047.

    Abstract

    Word count estimation (WCE) from audio recordings has a number of applications, including quantifying the amount of speech that language-learning infants hear in their natural environments, as captured by daylong recordings made with devices worn by infants. To be applicable in a wide range of scenarios and also low-resource domains, WCE tools should be extremely robust against varying signal conditions and require minimal access to labeled training data in the target domain. For this purpose, earlier work has used automatic syllabification of speech, followed by a least-squares-mapping of syllables to word counts. This paper compares a number of previously proposed syllabifiers in the WCE task, including a supervised bi-directional long short-term memory (BLSTM) network that is trained on a language for which high quality syllable annotations are available (a “high resource language”), and reports how the alternative methods compare on different languages and signal conditions. We also explore additive noise and varying-channel data augmentation strategies for BLSTM training, and show how they improve performance in both matching and mismatching languages. Intriguingly, we also find that even though the BLSTM works on languages beyond its training data, the unsupervised algorithms can still outperform it in challenging signal conditions on novel languages.
  • Ravignani, A., Garcia, M., Gross, S., de Reus, K., Hoeksema, N., Rubio-Garcia, A., & de Boer, B. (2018). Pinnipeds have something to say about speech and rhythm. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 399-401). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.095.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2018). The role of community size in the emergence of linguistic structure. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 402-404). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.096.
  • Seuren, P. A. M. (1985). Predicate raising and semantic transparency in Mauritian Creole. In N. Boretzky, W. Enninger, & T. Stolz (Eds.), Akten des 2. Essener Kolloquiums über "Kreolsprachen und Sprachkontakte", 29-30 Nov. 1985 (pp. 203-229). Bochum: Brockmeyer.
  • Speed, L., & Majid, A. (2018). Music and odor in harmony: A case of music-odor synaesthesia. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 2527-2532). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    We report an individual with music-odor synaesthesia who experiences automatic and vivid odor sensations when she hears music. S’s odor associations were recorded on two days, and compared with those of two control participants. Overall, S produced longer descriptions, and her associations were of multiple odors at once, in comparison to controls who typically reported a single odor. Although odor associations were qualitatively different between S and controls, ratings of the consistency of their descriptions did not differ. This demonstrates that crossmodal associations between music and odor exist in non-synaesthetes too. We also found that S is better at discriminating between odors than control participants, and is more likely to experience emotion, memories and evaluations triggered by odors, demonstrating the broader impact of her synaesthesia.

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  • Ten Bosch, L., Ernestus, M., & Boves, L. (2018). Analyzing reaction time sequences from human participants in auditory experiments. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 971-975). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1728.

    Abstract

    Sequences of reaction times (RT) produced by participants in an experiment are not only influenced by the stimuli, but by many other factors as well, including fatigue, attention, experience, IQ, handedness, etc. These confounding factors result in longterm effects (such as a participant’s overall reaction capability) and in short- and medium-time fluctuations in RTs (often referred to as ‘local speed effects’). Because stimuli are usually presented in a random sequence different for each participant, local speed effects affect the underlying ‘true’ RTs of specific trials in different ways across participants. To be able to focus statistical analysis on the effects of the cognitive process under study, it is necessary to reduce the effect of confounding factors as much as possible. In this paper we propose and compare techniques and criteria for doing so, with focus on reducing (‘filtering’) the local speed effects. We show that filtering matters substantially for the significance analyses of predictors in linear mixed effect regression models. The performance of filtering is assessed by the average between-participant correlation between filtered RT sequences and by Akaike’s Information Criterion, an important measure of the goodness-of-fit of linear mixed effect regression models.
  • Ten Bosch, L., & Boves, L. (2018). Information encoding by deep neural networks: what can we learn? In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 1457-1461). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1896.

    Abstract

    The recent advent of deep learning techniques in speech tech-nology and in particular in automatic speech recognition hasyielded substantial performance improvements. This suggeststhat deep neural networks (DNNs) are able to capture structurein speech data that older methods for acoustic modeling, suchas Gaussian Mixture Models and shallow neural networks failto uncover. In image recognition it is possible to link repre-sentations on the first couple of layers in DNNs to structuralproperties of images, and to representations on early layers inthe visual cortex. This raises the question whether it is possi-ble to accomplish a similar feat with representations on DNNlayers when processing speech input. In this paper we presentthree different experiments in which we attempt to untanglehow DNNs encode speech signals, and to relate these repre-sentations to phonetic knowledge, with the aim to advance con-ventional phonetic concepts and to choose the topology of aDNNs more efficiently. Two experiments investigate represen-tations formed by auto-encoders. A third experiment investi-gates representations on convolutional layers that treat speechspectrograms as if they were images. The results lay the basisfor future experiments with recursive networks.
  • Thompson, B., & Lupyan, G. (2018). Automatic estimation of lexical concreteness in 77 languages. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 1122-1127). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    We estimate lexical Concreteness for millions of words across 77 languages. Using a simple regression framework, we combine vector-based models of lexical semantics with experimental norms of Concreteness in English and Dutch. By applying techniques to align vector-based semantics across distinct languages, we compute and release Concreteness estimates at scale in numerous languages for which experimental norms are not currently available. This paper lays out the technique and its efficacy. Although this is a difficult dataset to evaluate immediately, Concreteness estimates computed from English correlate with Dutch experimental norms at $\rho$ = .75 in the vocabulary at large, increasing to $\rho$ = .8 among Nouns. Our predictions also recapitulate attested relationships with word frequency. The approach we describe can be readily applied to numerous lexical measures beyond Concreteness
  • Thompson, B., Roberts, S., & Lupyan, G. (2018). Quantifying semantic similarity across languages. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 2551-2556). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Do all languages convey semantic knowledge in the same way? If language simply mirrors the structure of the world, the answer should be a qualified “yes”. If, however, languages impose structure as much as reflecting it, then even ostensibly the “same” word in different languages may mean quite different things. We provide a first pass at a large-scale quantification of cross-linguistic semantic alignment of approximately 1000 meanings in 55 languages. We find that the translation equivalents in some domains (e.g., Time, Quantity, and Kinship) exhibit high alignment across languages while the structure of other domains (e.g., Politics, Food, Emotions, and Animals) exhibits substantial cross-linguistic variability. Our measure of semantic alignment correlates with known phylogenetic distances between languages: more phylogenetically distant languages have less semantic alignment. We also find semantic alignment to correlate with cultural distances between societies speaking the languages, suggesting a rich co-adaptation of language and culture even in domains of experience that appear most constrained by the natural world
  • Tourtouri, E. N., Delogu, F., & Crocker, M. W. (2018). Specificity and entropy reduction in situated referential processing. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 3356-3361). Austin: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    In situated communication, reference to an entity in the shared visual context can be established using eitheranexpression that conveys precise (minimally specified) or redundant (over-specified) information. There is, however, along-lasting debate in psycholinguistics concerningwhether the latter hinders referential processing. We present evidence from an eyetrackingexperiment recordingfixations as well asthe Index of Cognitive Activity –a novel measure of cognitive workload –supporting the view that over-specifications facilitate processing. We further present originalevidence that, above and beyond the effect of specificity,referring expressions thatuniformly reduce referential entropyalso benefitprocessing
  • Vernes, S. C. (2018). Vocal learning in bats: From genes to behaviour. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 516-518). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.128.
  • Von Holzen, K., & Bergmann, C. (2018). A Meta-Analysis of Infants’ Mispronunciation Sensitivity Development. In C. Kalish, M. Rau, J. Zhu, & T. T. Rogers (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2018) (pp. 1159-1164). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Before infants become mature speakers of their native language, they must acquire a robust word-recognition system which allows them to strike the balance between allowing some variation (mood, voice, accent) and recognizing variability that potentially changes meaning (e.g. cat vs hat). The current meta-analysis quantifies how the latter, termed mispronunciation sensitivity, changes over infants’ first three years, testing competing predictions of mainstream language acquisition theories. Our results show that infants were sensitive to mispronunciations, but accepted them as labels for target objects. Interestingly, and in contrast to predictions of mainstream theories, mispronunciation sensitivity was not modulated by infant age, suggesting that a sufficiently flexible understanding of native language phonology is in place at a young age.

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