Publications

Displaying 1 - 41 of 41
  • Aarts, E. (2009). Resisting temptation: The role of the anterior cingulate cortex in adjusting cognitive control. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Ameka, F. K. (1991). Ewe: Its grammatical constructions and illocutionary devices. PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • Baggio, G. (2009). Semantics and the electrophysiology of meaning: Tense, aspect, event structure. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Behnke, K. (1998). The acquisition of phonetic categories in young infants: A self-organising artificial neural network approach. PhD Thesis, University of Twente, Enschede. doi:10.17617/2.2057688.
  • Brand, S. (2017). The processing of reduced word pronunciation variants by natives and learners: Evidence from French casual speech. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Davids, N. (2009). Neurocognitive markers of phonological processing: A clinical perspective. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Doherty, M., & Klein, W. (Eds.). (1991). Übersetzung [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (84).
  • Fitz, H. (2009). Neural syntax. PhD Thesis, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation.

    Abstract

    Children learn their mother tongue spontaneously and effortlessly through communicative interaction with their environment; they do not have to be taught explicitly or learn how to learn first. The ambient language to which children are exposed, however, is highly variable and arguably deficient with regard to the learning target. Nonetheless, most normally developing children learn their native language rapidly and with ease. To explain this accomplishment, many theories of acquisition posit innate constraints on learning, or even a biological endowment for language which is specific to language. Usage-based theories, on the other hand, place more emphasis on the role of experience and domain-general learning mechanisms than on innate language-specific knowledge. But languages are lexically open and combinatorial in structure, so no amount of experience covers their expressivity. Usage-based theories therefore have to explain how children can generalize the properties of their linguistic input to an adult-like grammar. In this thesis I provide an explicit computational mechanism with which usage-based theories of language can be tested and evaluated. The focus of my work lies on complex syntax and the human ability to form sentences which express more than one proposition by means of relativization. This `capacity for recursion' is a hallmark of an adult grammar and, as some have argued, the human language faculty itself. The manuscript is organized as follows. In the second chapter, I give an overview of results that characterize the properties of neural networks as mathematical objects and review previous attempts at modelling the acquisition of complex syntax with such networks. The chapter introduces the conceptual landscape in which the current work is located. In the third chapter, I argue that the construction and use of meaning is essential in child language acquisition and adult processing. Neural network models need to incorporate this dimension of human linguistic behavior. I introduce the Dual-path model of sentence production and syntactic development which is able to represent semantics and learns from exposure to sentences paired with their meaning (cf. Chang et al. 2006). I explain the architecture of this model, motivate critical assumptions behind its design, and discuss existing research using this model. The fourth chapter describes and compares several extensions of the basic architecture to accommodate the processing of multi-clause utterances. These extensions are evaluated against computational desiderata, such as good learning and generalization performance and the parsimony of input representations. A single-best solution for encoding the meaning of complex sentences with restrictive relative clauses is identified, which forms the basis for all subsequent simulations. Chapter five analyzes the learning dynamics in more detail. I first examine the model's behavior for different relative clause types. Syntactic alternations prove to be particularly difficult to learn because they complicate the meaning-to-form mapping the model has to acquire. In the second part, I probe the internal representations the model has developed during learning. It is argued that the model acquires the argument structure of the construction types in its input language and represents the hierarchical organization of distinct multi-clause utterances. The juice of this thesis is contained in chapters six to eight. In chapter six, I test the Dual-path model's generalization capacities in a variety of tasks. I show that its syntactic representations are sufficiently transparent to allow structural generalization to novel complex utterances. Semantic similarities between novel and familiar sentence types play a critical role in this task. The Dual-path model also has a capacity for generalizing familiar words to novel slots in novel constructions (strong semantic systematicity). Moreover, I identify learning conditions under which the model displays recursive productivity. It is argued that the model's behavior is consistent with human behavior in that production accuracy degrades with depth of embedding, and right-branching is learned faster than center-embedding recursion. In chapter seven, I address the issue of learning complex polar interrogatives in the absence of positive exemplars in the input. I show that the Dual-path model can acquire the syntax of these questions from simpler and similar structures which are warranted in a child's linguistic environment. The model's errors closely match children's errors, and it is suggested that children might not require an innate learning bias to acquire auxiliary fronting. Since the model does not implement a traditional kind of language-specific universal grammar, these results are relevant to the poverty of the stimulus debate. English relative clause constructions give rise to similar performance orderings in adult processing and child language acquisition. This pattern matches the typological universal called the noun phrase accessibility hierarchy. I propose an input-based explanation of this data in chapter eight. The Dual-path model displays this ordering in syntactic development when exposed to plausible input distributions. But it is possible to manipulate and completely remove the ordering by varying properties of the input from which the model learns. This indicates, I argue, that patterns of interference and facilitation among input structures can explain the hierarchy when all structures are simultaneously learned and represented over a single set of connection weights. Finally, I draw conclusions from this work, address some unanswered questions, and give a brief outlook on how this research might be continued.

    Additional information

    http://dare.uva.nl/record/328271
  • Grabe, E. (1998). Comparative intonational phonology: English and German. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057683.
  • Guadalupe, T. (2017). The biology of variation in anatomical brain asymmetries. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Hammond, J. (2009). The grammar of nouns and verbs in Whitesands, an oceanic language of Southern Vanuatu. Master Thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney.

    Abstract

    Whitesands is an under-described language of southern Vanuatu, and this thesis presents Whitesands-specific data based on primary in-situ field research. The thesis addresses the distinction of noun and verb word classes in the language. It claims that current linguistic syntax theory cannot account for the argument structure of canonical object-denoting roots. It is shown that there are distinct lexical noun and verb classes in Whitesands but this is only a weak dichotomy. Stronger is the NP and VP distinction, and this is achieved by employing a new theoretical approach that proposes functional categories and their selection of complements as crucial tests of distinction. This approach contrasts with previous analyses of parts of speech in Oceanic languages and cross-linguistically. It ultimately explains many of the syntactic phenomena seen in the language family, including the above argument assignment dilemma, the alienable possession of nouns with classifiers and also the nominalisation processes.
  • Hartung, F. (2017). Getting under your skin: The role of perspective and simulation of experience in narrative comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Heyselaar, E. (2017). Influences on the magnitude of syntactic priming. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Hoey, E. (2017). Lapse organization in interaction. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1998). Kaleidoskop [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (112).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1979). Sprache und Kontext [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (33).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1984). Textverständlichkeit - Textverstehen [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (55).
  • Klein, W., & Dimroth, C. (Eds.). (2009). Worauf kann sich der Sprachunterricht stützen? [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 153.
  • Kunert, R. (2017). Music and language comprehension in the brain. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Kuzla, C. (2009). Prosodic structure in speech production and perception. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Lam, N. H. L. (2017). Comprehending comprehension: Insights from neuronal oscillations on the neuronal basis of language. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Lewis, A. G. (2017). Explorations of beta-band neural oscillations during language comprehension: Sentence processing and beyond. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Little, H. (Ed.). (2017). Special Issue on the Emergence of Sound Systems [Special Issue]. The Journal of Language Evolution, 2(1).
  • Lockwood, G. (2017). Talking sense: The behavioural and neural correlates of sound symbolism. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Manrique, E. (2017). Achieving mutual understanding in Argentine Sign Language (LSA). PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Moers, C. (2017). The neighbors will tell you what to expect: Effects of aging and predictability on language processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Montero-Melis, G. (2017). Thoughts in Motion: The Role of Long-Term L1 and Short-Term L2 Experience when Talking and Thinking of Caused Motion. PhD Thesis, Stockholm University, Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm.

    Abstract

    This thesis is about whether language affects thinking. It deals with the linguistic relativity hypothesis, which proposes that the language we speak influences the way we think. This hypothesis is investigated in the domain of caused motion (e.g., ‘The man rolled the tyre into the garage’), by looking at Spanish and Swedish, two languages that show striking differences in how motion events are encoded. The thesis consists of four studies. The first two focus on native speakers of Spanish and Swedish. Study I compares how Spanish and Swedish speakers describe the same set of caused motion events, directing the spotlight at how variable the descriptions are in each language. The results confirm earlier findings from semantic typology regarding the dominant ways of expressing the events in each language: Spanish behaves like a verb-framed language and Swedish like a satellite-framed language (Talmy, 2000). Going beyond previous findings, the study demonstrates—using the tools of entropy and Monte Carlo simulations—that there is markedly more variability in Spanish than in Swedish descriptions. Study II tests whether differences in how Spanish and Swedish speakers describe caused motion events are reflected in how they think about such events. Using a novel similarity arrangement task, it is found that Spanish and Swedish speakers partly differ in how they represent caused motion events if they can access language during the task. However, the differences disappear when the possibility to use language is momentarily blocked by an interference task. The last two studies focus on Swedish learners of Spanish as a second language (L2). Study III explores how Swedish learners (compared to native Spanish speakers) adapt their Spanish motion descriptions to recently encountered input. Using insights from the literature on structural priming, we find that Swedish learners initially expect to encounter in their L2, Spanish, those verb types that are typical in Swedish (manner verbs like ‘roll’) but that, with increasing proficiency, their expectations become increasingly attuned to the typical Spanish pattern of using path verbs (like ‘enter’). These expectations are reflected in the way L2 learners adapt their own production to the Spanish input. Study IV asks whether recent linguistic experience in an L2 can affect how L2 learners think about motion events. It is found that encountering motion descriptions in the L2 that emphasize different types of information (path or manner) leads L2 speakers to perceive similarity along different dimensions in a subsequent similarity arrangement task. Taken together, the thesis argues that the study of the relation between language and thought affords more valuable insights when not posed as an either-or question (i.e., does language affect thought or not?). In this spirit, the thesis contributes to the wider aim of investigating the conditions under which language does or does not affect thought and explores what the different outcomes tell us about language, thought, and the intricate mechanisms that relate them.
  • Neger, T. M. (2017). Learning from the (un)expected: Age and individual differences in statistical learning and perceptual learning in speech. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2482848.
  • Nijland, L., & Janse, E. (Eds.). (2009). Auditory processing in speakers with acquired or developmental language disorders [Special Issue]. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 23(3).
  • Norcliffe, E. (2009). Head-marking in usage and grammar: A study of variation and change in Yucatec Maya. PhD Thesis, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

    Abstract

    Many Mayan languages make use of a special dependent verb form (the Agent Focus, or AF verb form), which alternates with the normal transitive verb form (the synthetic verb form) of main clauses when the subject of a transitive verb is focused, questioned or relativized. It has been a centerpiece of research in Mayan morphosyntax over the last forty years, due to its puzzling formal and distributional properties. In this dissertation I show how a usage-oriented approach to the phenomenon can provide important insights into this area of grammar which resists any categorical explanation. I propose that the historical origins of these special verb forms can be traced to the emergence of head marking. Drawing on cross-linguistic and historical data, I argue that the special verbs that occur in A-bar dependencies in Yucatec and a range of head-marking languages are byproducts of the frequency-sensitive gramaticalization process by which independent pronouns become pronominal inflection on verbs. I show that the relatively low frequency of adjacent pronoun-verb combinations in extraction contexts (where gaps are more frequent than resumptive pronouns) can give rise to asymmetric patterns of pronoun grammaticalization, and thus lead to the emergence of these morphological alternations. The asymmetric frequency distributions of gaps and RPs (within and across languages) in turn can be explained by processing preferences. I present three experiments which show that Yucatec speakers are more likely to use the resumptive verb form in embedded environments, and where the antecedent is indefinite. Specifically, these studies indicate the need to bring discourse-level processing principles into the account of what have often been taken to be autonomously sentence-internal phenomena: factors such as distance and the referential salience of the antecedent have been shown to influence referential form choice in discourse, suggesting that the same cognitive principles lie behind both types of variation. More generally, the Yucatec studies demonstrate that production preferences in Yucatec relative clauses reflect patterns of RP/gap distributions that have been attested across grammars. The Highest Subject Restriction (the ban on subject RPs in local dependencies), which is apparently a categorical constraint in many languages, is reflected probabilistically in Yucatec in terms of production preferences. The definiteness restriction (RPs are obligatory with indefinite antecedents), which has been reported categorically in other languages, is also visible probabilistically in Yucatec production. This lends some statistically robust support to the view that typological patterns can arise via the conventionalization of processing preferences.
  • De Ruiter, J. P. (1998). Gesture and speech production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057686.
  • Sauppe, S. (2017). The role of voice and word order in incremental sentence processing: Studies on sentence production and comprehension in Tagalog and German. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Schimke, S. (2009). The acquisition of finiteness by Turkish learners of German and Turkish learners of French: Investigating knowledge of forms and functions in production and comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Sarah Schimke onderzocht hoe mensen die op volwassen leeftijd naar een ander land verhuizen de taal van dit land leren, ook zonder veel taalinstructie te krijgen. Twee groepen werden onderzocht: Turkse immigranten in Frankrijk en Turkse immigranten in Duitsland. De resultaten laten zien dat volwassen leerlingen in het begin van het verwervingsproces een gemakkelijkere variatie van de doeltaal creëren. Er worden wel woorden van de doeltaal verworven en gebruikt, maar er wordt een gesimplificeerde grammatica toegepast. In het bijzonder gebruiken leerlingen in deze fase geen finietheid, dus geen morfologische variaties van werkwoorden. Schimke toont aan dat als finietheid wordt verworven, dit de grammatica van de leerlingen sterk verandert en dat deze veel sterker op de doeltaalgrammatica begint te lijken. Ook toont ze aan dat dit proces door karakteristieken van de doeltaal, zoals de woordvolgorde en de complexiteit van de morfologie, wordt beïnvloed
  • Schoot, L. (2017). Language processing in a conversation context. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Schuerman, W. L. (2017). Sensorimotor experience in speech perception. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • De Vaan, L. (2017). Mental representations of Dutch regular morphologically complex neologisms. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Van Putten, S. (2009). Talking about motion in Avatime. Master Thesis, Leiden University.
  • Vanlangendonck, F. (2017). Finding common ground: On the neural mechanisms of communicative language production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Verhagen, J. (2009). Finiteness in Dutch as a second language. PhD Thesis, VU University, Amsterdam.
  • Willems, R. M. (2009). Neural reflections of meaning in gesture, language, and action. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • De Zubicaray, G., & Fisher, S. E. (Eds.). (2017). Genes, brain and language [Special Issue]. Brain and Language, 172.

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