Publications

Displaying 1 - 36 of 36
  • 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.
  • Benazzo, S., Flecken, M., & Soroli, E. (Eds.). (2012). Typological perspectives on language and thought: Thinking for speaking in L2. [Special Issue]. Language, Interaction and Acquisition, 3(2).
  • Cholin, J. (2004). Syllables in speech production: Effects of syllable preparation and syllable frequency. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.60589.

    Abstract

    The fluent production of speech is a very complex human skill. It requires the coordination of several articulatory subsystems. The instructions that lead articulatory movements to execution are the result of the interplay of speech production levels that operate above the articulatory network. During the process of word-form encoding, the groundwork for the articulatory programs is prepared which then serve the articulators as basic units. This thesis investigated whether or not syllables form the basis for the articulatory programs and in particular whether or not these syllable programs are stored, separate from the store of the lexical word-forms. It is assumed that syllable units are stored in a so-called 'mental syllabary'. The main goal of this thesis was to find evidence of the syllable playing a functionally important role in speech production and for the assumption that syllables are stored units. In a variant of the implicit priming paradigm, it was investigated whether information about the syllabic structure of a target word facilitates the preparation (advanced planning) of a to-be-produced utterance. These experiments yielded evidence for the functionally important role of syllables in speech production. In a subsequent row of experiments, it could be demonstrated that the production of syllables is sensitive to frequency. Syllable frequency effects provide strong evidence for the notion of a mental syllabary because only stored units are likely to exhibit frequency effects. In a last study, effects of syllable preparation and syllable frequency were investigated in a combined study to disentangle the two effects. The results of this last experiment converged with those reported for the other experiments and added further support to the claim that syllables play a core functional role in speech production and are stored in a mental syllabary.

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  • Cutfield, S. (2012). Demonstratives in Dalabon: A language of southwestern Arnhem Land. PhD Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

    Abstract

    This study is a comprehensive description of the nominal demonstratives in Dalabon, a severely endangered Gunwinyguan non-Pama-Nyungan language of southwestern Arnhem Land, northern Australia. Demonstratives are attested in the basic vocabulary of every language, yet remain heretofore underdescribed in Australian languages. Traditional definitions of demonstratives as primarily making spatial reference have recently evolved at a great pace, with close analyses of demonstratives-in-use revealing that their use in spatial reference, in narrative discourse, and in interaction is significantly more complex than previously assumed, and that definitions of demonstrative forms are best developed after consideration of their use across these contexts. The present study reinforces findings of complexity in demonstrative use, and the significance of a multidimensional characterization of demonstrative forms. This study is therefore a contribution to the description of Dalabon, to the analysis of demonstratives in Australian languages, and to the theory and typology of demonstratives cross-linguistically. In this study, I present a multi-dimensional analysis of Dalabon demonstratives, using a variety of theoretical frameworks and research tools including descriptive linguistics, lexical-functional grammar, discourse analysis, gesture studies and pragmatics. Using data from personal narratives, improvised interactions and elicitation sessions to investigate the demonstratives, this study takes into account their morphosyntactic distribution, uses in the speech situation, interactional factors, discourse phenomena, concurrent gesture, and uses in personal narratives. I conclude with a unified account of the intenstional and extensional semantics of each form surveyed. The Dalabon demonstrative paradigm divides into two types, those which are spatially-specific and those which are non-spatial. The spatially-specific demonstratives nunda ‘this (in the here-space)’ and djakih ‘that (in the there-space)’ are shown not to encode the location of the referent per se, rather its relative position to dynamic physical and social elements of the speech situation such as the speaker’s engagement area and here-space. Both forms are also used as spatial adverbs to mean ‘here’ and ‘there’ respectively, while only nunda is also used as a temporal adverb ‘now, today’. The spatially-specific demonstratives are limited to situational use in narratives. The non-spatial demonstratives kanh/kanunh ‘that (identifiable)’ and nunh ‘that (unfamiliar, contrastive)’ are used in both the speech situation and personal narratives to index referents as ‘identifiable’ or ‘unfamiliar’ respectively. Their use in the speech situation can conversationally implicate that the referent is distal. The non-spatial demonstratives display the greatest diversity of use in narratives, each specializing for certain uses, yet their wide distribution across discourse usage types can be described on account of their intensional semantics. The findings of greatest typological interest in this study are that speakers’ choice of demonstrative in the speech situation is influenced by multiple simultaneous deictic parameters (including gesture); that oppositions in the Dalabon demonstrative paradigm are not equal, nor exclusively semantic; that the form nunh ‘that (unfamiliar, contrastive)’ is used to index a referent as somewhat inaccessible or unexpected; that the ‘recognitional’ form kanh/kanunh is instead described as ‘identifiable’; and that speakers use demonstratives to index emotional deixis to a referent, or to their addressee.
  • Dimitrova, D. V. (2012). Neural correlates of prosody and information structure. PhD Thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

    Abstract

    The present dissertation investigates what neurocognitive processes are activated in the brain when listeners comprehend spoken language and in particular the melody and rhythm of speech, also referred to as prosody. The findings of several electrophysiological studies show that prosody influences the early and late stages of spoken language processing. When words are accented, listeners consider them important, and the brain responds to accentuation already 200 milliseconds after stimulus onset. The processing of prosodic prominence occurs whether or not a context is present and whether or not accent is congruent with context, although the responses to accentuation may be modified by either of these factors and by the focus particle only. Listeners are sensitive not only to the presence of prosodic prominence but also to the type of accents speakers use: corrective prosody activates additional interpretation mechanisms related to the construction of corrective meaning. The parallel between accents across clauses impacts the disambiguation of sentences with verb ellipsis. By interpreting prosodically parallel elements as syntactically parallel, listeners arrive at less preferred interpretations of conjoined clauses. The research indentifies early correlates of incongruous prosody in strongly predictive contexts as well as late integration processes for prosody comprehension, which are related to the processing of structural complexity in isolated and ambiguous sentences. The dissertation provides evidence that the brain is sensitive to differences in prosody even in the absence of prosodic judgment. However, by changing the task, one modulates the neural mechanisms of prosody processing.
  • Filippi, P. (2012). Sintassi, Prosodia e Socialità: le Origini del Linguaggio Verbale. PhD Thesis, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo.

    Abstract

    What is the key cognitive ability that makes humans unique among all the other animals? Our work aims at contributing to this research question adopting a comparative and philosophical approach to the origins of verbal language. In particular, we adopt three strands of analysis that are relevant in the context of comparative investigation on the the origins of verbal language: a) research on the evolutionary ‘homologies’, which provides information on the phylogenetic traits that humans and other primates share with their common ancestor; b) investigations on “analogous” traits, aimed at finding the evolutionary pressures that guided the emergence of the same biological traits that evolved independently in phylogenetically distant species; the ontogenetic development of the ability to produce and understand verbal language in human infants. Within this comparative approach, we focus on three key apsects that we addressed bridging recent empiric evidence on language processing with philosophical investigations on verbal language: (i) pattern processing as a biologocal precursor of syntax and algebraic rule acquisition, (ii) sound modulation as a guide to pattern comprehension in speech, animal vocalization and music, (iii) social strategies for mutual understanding, survival and group cohesion. We conclude emphasizing the interplay between these three sets of cognitive processes as a fundamental dimension grounding the emergence of the human ability for propositional language.
  • Fitch, W. T., Friederici, A. D., & Hagoort, P. (Eds.). (2012). Pattern perception and computational complexity [Special Issue]. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 367 (1598).
  • Frank, S. L. (2004). Computational modeling of discourse comprehension. PhD Thesis, Tilburg University, Tilburg.
  • Furman, R. (2012). Caused motion events in Turkish: Verbal and gestural representation in adults and children. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen/LOT.

    Abstract

    Caused motion events (e.g. a boy pulls a box into a room) are basic events where an Agent (the boy) performs an Action (pulling) that causes a Figure (box) to move in a spatial Path (into) to a Goal (the room). These semantic elements are mapped onto lexical and syntactic structures differently across languages This dissertation investigates the encoding of caused motion events in Turkish, and the development of this encoding in speech and gesture. First, a linguistic analysis shows that Turkish does not fully fit into the expected typological patterns, and that the encoding of caused motion is determined by the fine-grained lexical semantics of a verb as well as the syntactic construction the verb is integrated into. A grammaticality judgment study conducted with adult Turkish speakers further establishes the fundamentals of the encoding patterns. An event description study compares adults’ verbal and gestural representations of caused motion to those of children aged 3 to 5. The findings indicate that although language-specificity is evident in children’s speech and gestures, the development of adult patterns takes time and occurs after the age of 5. A final study investigates a longitudinal video corpus of the spontaneous speech of Turkish-speaking children aged 1 to 3, and finds that language-specificity is evident from the start in both children’s speech and gesture. Apart from contributing to the literature on the development of Turkish, this dissertation furthers our understanding of the interaction between language-specificity and the multimodal expression of semantic information in event descriptions.
  • Grabe, E. (1998). Comparative intonational phonology: English and German. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057683.
  • Habscheid, S., & Klein, W. (Eds.). (2012). Dinge und Maschinen in der Kommunikation [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 42(168).

    Abstract

    “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” (Weiser 1991, S. 94). – Die Behauptung stammt aus einem vielzitierten Text von Mark Weiser, ehemals Chief Technology Officer am berühmten Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), wo nicht nur einige bedeutende computertechnische Innovationen ihren Ursprung hatten, sondern auch grundlegende anthropologische Einsichten zum Umgang mit technischen Artefakten gewonnen wurden.1 In einem populärwissenschaftlichen Artikel mit dem Titel „The Computer for the 21st Century” entwarf Weiser 1991 die Vision einer Zukunft, in der wir nicht mehr mit einem einzelnen PC an unserem Arbeitsplatz umgehen – vielmehr seien wir in jedem Raum umgeben von hunderten elektronischer Vorrichtungen, die untrennbar in Alltagsgegenstände eingebettet und daher in unserer materiellen Umwelt gleichsam „verschwunden“ sind. Dabei ging es Weiser nicht allein um das ubiquitäre Phänomen, das in der Medientheorie als „Transparenz der Medien“ bekannt ist2 oder in allgemeineren Theorien der Alltagserfahrung als eine selbstverständliche Verwobenheit des Menschen mit den Dingen, die uns in ihrem Sinn vertraut und praktisch „zuhanden“ sind.3 Darüber hinaus zielte Weisers Vision darauf, unsere bereits existierende Umwelt durch computerlesbare Daten zu erweitern und in die Operationen eines solchen allgegenwärtigen Netzwerks alltägliche Praktiken gleichsam lückenlos zu integrieren: In der Welt, die Weiser entwirft, öffnen sich Türen für denjenigen, der ein bestimmtes elektronisches Abzeichen trägt, begrüßen Räume Personen, die sie betreten, mit Namen, passen sich Computerterminals an die Präferenzen individueller Nutzer an usw. (Weiser 1991, S. 99).
  • Hammarström, H., & van den Heuvel, W. (Eds.). (2012). On the history, contact & classification of Papuan languages [Special Issue]. Language & Linguistics in Melanesia, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.langlxmelanesia.com/specialissues.htm.
  • Holler, J. (2004). Semantic and pragmatic aspects of representational gestures: Towards a unified model of communication in talk. PhD Thesis, University of Manchester, Manchester.
  • Kemps, R. J. J. K. (2004). Morphology in auditory lexical processing: Sensitivity to fine phonetic detail and insensitivity to suffix reduction. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.59193.

    Abstract

    This dissertation investigates two seemingly contradictory properties of the speech perception system. On the one hand, listeners are extremely sensitive to the fine phonetic details in the speech signal. These subtle acoustic cues can reduce the temporal ambiguity between words that show initial segmental overlap, and can guide lexical activation. On the other hand, comprehension does not seem to be hampered at all by the drastic reductions that typically occur in casual speech. Complete segments, and sometimes even complete syllables, may be missing, but comprehension is seemingly unaffected. This thesis aims at elucidating how words are represented and accessed in the mental lexicon, by investigating these contradictory phenomena for the domain of morphology

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  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1998). Kaleidoskop [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (112).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (1989). Kindersprache [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, (73).
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (2004). Philologie auf neuen Wegen [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, 136.
  • Klein, W. (Ed.). (2004). Universitas [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik (LiLi), 134.
  • Knudsen, B. (2012). Infants’ appreciation of others’ mental states in prelinguistic communication. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Majid, A., Boroditsky, L., & Gaby, A. (Eds.). (2012). Time in terms of space [Research topic] [Special Issue]. Frontiers in cultural psychology. Retrieved from http://www.frontiersin.org/cultural_psychology/researchtopics/Time_in_terms_of_space/755.

    Abstract

    This Research Topic explores the question: what is the relationship between representations of time and space in cultures around the world? This question touches on the broader issue of how humans come to represent and reason about abstract entities – things we cannot see or touch. Time is a particularly opportune domain to investigate this topic. Across cultures, people use spatial representations for time, for example in graphs, time-lines, clocks, sundials, hourglasses, and calendars. In language, time is also heavily related to space, with spatial terms often used to describe the order and duration of events. In English, for example, we might move a meeting forward, push a deadline back, attend a long concert or go on a short break. People also make consistent spatial gestures when talking about time, and appear to spontaneously invoke spatial representations when processing temporal language. A large body of evidence suggests a close correspondence between temporal and spatial language and thought. However, the ways that people spatialize time can differ dramatically across languages and cultures. This research topic identifies and explores some of the sources of this variation, including patterns in spatial thinking, patterns in metaphor, gesture and other cultural systems. This Research Topic explores how speakers of different languages talk about time and space and how they think about these domains, outside of language. The Research Topic invites papers exploring the following issues: 1. Do the linguistic representations of space and time share the same lexical and morphosyntactic resources? 2. To what extent does the conceptualization of time follow the conceptualization of space?
  • Meeuwissen, M. (2004). Producing complex spoken numerals for time and space. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.60607.

    Abstract

    This thesis addressed the spoken production of complex numerals for time and space. The production of complex numerical expressions like those involved in telling time (e.g., 'quarter to four') or producing house numbers (e.g., 'two hundred forty-five') has been almost completely ignored. Yet, adult speakers produce such expressions on a regular basis in everyday communication. Thus, no theory on numerical cognition or speech production is complete without an account of the production of multi-morphemic utterances such as complex numeral expressions. The main question of this thesis is which particular speech planning levels are involved in the naming and reading of complex numerals for time and space. More specifically, this issue was investigated by examining different modes of response (clock times versus house numbers), alternative input formats (Arabic digit versus alphabetic format; analog versus digital clock displays), and different expression types (relative 'quarter to four' versus absolute 'three forty-five' time expressions).

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  • Mitterer, H. (Ed.). (2012). Ecological aspects of speech perception [Research topic] [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Cognition.

    Abstract

    Our knowledge of speech perception is largely based on experiments conducted with carefully recorded clear speech presented under good listening conditions to undistracted listeners - a near-ideal situation, in other words. But the reality poses a set of different challenges. First of all, listeners may need to divide their attention between speech comprehension and another task (e.g., driving). Outside the laboratory, the speech signal is often slurred by less than careful pronunciation and the listener has to deal with background noise. Moreover, in a globalized world, listeners need to understand speech in more than their native language. Relatedly, the speakers we listen to often have a different language background so we have to deal with a foreign or regional accent we are not familiar with. Finally, outside the laboratory, speech perception is not an end in itself, but rather a mean to contribute to a conversation. Listeners do not only need to understand the speech they are hearing, they also need to use this information to plan and time their own responses. For this special topic, we invite papers that address any of these ecological aspects of speech perception.
  • O'Connor, L. (2004). Motion, transfer, and transformation: The grammar of change in Lowland Chontal. PhD Thesis, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara.

    Abstract

    Typologies are critical tools for linguists, but typologies, like grammars, are known to leak. This book addresses the question of typological overlap from the perspective of a single language. In Lowland Chontal of Oaxaca, a language of southern Mexico, change events are expressed with three types of predicates, and each predicate type corresponds to a different language type in the well-known typology of lexicalization patterns established by Talmy and elaborated by others. O’Connor evaluates the predictive powers of the typology by examining the consequences of each predicate type in a variety of contexts, using data from narrative discourse, stimulus response, and elicitation. This is the first de­tailed look at the lexical and grammatical resources of the verbal system in Chontal and their relation to semantics of change. The analysis of how and why Chontal speakers choose among these verbal resources to achieve particular communicative and social goals serves both as a documentation of an endangered language and a theoretical contribution towards a typology of language use.
  • Roberts, L., & Meyer, A. S. (Eds.). (2012). Individual differences in second language acquisition [Special Issue]. Language Learning, 62(Supplement S2).
  • Rossano, F. (2012). Gaze behavior in face-to-face interaction. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Wat doen onze ogen als we met andere mensen praten? In zijn proefschrift beschrijft Federico Rossano hoe mensen hun ogen gebruiken tijdens face-to-face interacties. Onze oogbewegingen blijken opvallend geordend en voorspelbaar: zo is het bijvoorbeeld mogelijk om met uitsluitend de ogen een reactie uit te lokken als de gesprekspartner niet direct reageert. Ook wanneer bijvoorbeeld een vraag-antwoordreeks ten einde loopt, coördineren gespreksdeelnemers hun oogbewegingen op een specifieke manier. Daarnaast heeft luisteren naar een verhaal of luisteren naar een vraag verschillende implicaties voor oogbewegingen. Dit proefschrift bevat daarom belangrijke informatie voor experts op het gebied van kunstmatige intelligentie en computerwetenschappers: de voorspelbaarheid en reproduceerbaarheid van natuurlijke oogbewegingen kan onder andere gebruikt worden bij de ontwikkeling van robots of avatars.
  • Rossano, F. (2004). Per una semiotica dell'interazione: Analisi del rapporto tra sguardo, corpo e parola in alcune interazione faccia a faccia. Master Thesis, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
  • De Ruiter, J. P. (1998). Gesture and speech production. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.2057686.
  • Schmiedtová, B. (2004). At the same time.. The expression of simultaneity in learner varieties. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.59569.

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  • Segaert, K. (2012). Structuring language: Contributions to the neurocognition of syntax. PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Sprekers hebben een sterke neiging om syntactische structuren te hergebruiken in nieuwe zinnen. Wanneer we een situatie beschrijven met een passieve zin bijvoorbeeld: 'De vrouw wordt begroet door de man', zullen we voor de beschrijving van een nieuwe situatie gemakkelijker opnieuw een passieve zin gebruiken. Vooral bij moeilijke syntactische structuren is de neiging om ze te hergebruiken erg sterk. Voor gemakkelijke zinsconstructies geldt dat minder. Maar als deze toch hergebruikt worden dan gaat dit samen met een sneller initiëren van de beschrijving. Ook in het brein zien we dat het herhalen van syntactische structuren de verwerking ervan vergemakkelijkt. Bepaalde hersengebieden die zorgen voor de verwerking van syntactische structuren zijn zeer actief de eerste keer dat een syntactische structuur wordt verwerkt, en minder actief de tweede keer. Het gaat hier om een gebiedje in de frontaalkwab en een gebiedje in de temporaalkwab. Opvallend is ook dat deze gebieden de verwerking van syntactische structuren ondersteunen zowel tijdens het spreken als tijdens het luisteren.
  • Svantesson, J.-O., Burenhult, N., Holmer, A., Karlsson, A., & Lundström, H. (Eds.). (2012). Humanities of the lesser-known: New directions in the description, documentation and typology of endangered languages and musics [Special Issue]. Language Documentation and Description, 10.
  • Udden, J. (2012). Language as structured sequences: a causal role of Broca's region in sequence processing. PhD Thesis, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

    Abstract

    In this thesis I approach language as a neurobiological system. I defend a sequence processing perspective on language and on the function of Broca's region in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG). This perspective provides a way to express common structural aspects of language, music and action, which all engage the LIFG. It also facilitates the comparison of human language and structured sequence processing in animals. Research on infants, song-birds and non-human primates suggests an interesting role for non-adjacent dependencies in language acquisition and the evolution of language. In a series of experimental studies using a sequence processing paradigm called artificial grammar learning (AGL), we have investigated sequences with adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies. Our behavioral and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies show that healthy subjects successfully discriminate between grammatical and non-grammatical sequences after having acquired aspects of a grammar with nested or crossed non-adjacent dependencies implicitly. There were no indications of separate acquisition/processing mechanisms for sequence processing of adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies, although acquisition of non-adjacent dependencies takes more time. In addition, we studied the causal role of Broca‟s region in processing artificial syntax. Although syntactic processing has already been robustly correlated with activity in Broca's region, the causal role of Broca's region in syntactic processing, in particular syntactic comprehension has been unclear. Previous lesion studies have shown that a lesion in Broca's region is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to induce e.g. syntactic deficits. Subsequent to transcranial magnetic stimulation of Broca‟s region, discrimination of grammatical sequences with non-adjacent dependencies from non-grammatical sequences was impaired, compared to when a language irrelevant control region (vertex) was stimulated. Two additional experiments show perturbation of discrimination performance for grammars with adjacent dependencies after stimulation of Broca's region. Together, these results support the view that Broca‟s region plays a causal role in implicit structured sequence processing.
  • Van den Brink, D. (2004). Contextual influences on spoken-word processing: An electrophysiological approach. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.57773.

    Abstract

    The aim of this thesis was to gain more insight into spoken-word comprehension and the influence of sentence-contextual information on these processes using ERPs. By manipulating critical words in semantically constraining sententes, in semantic or syntactic sense, and examining the consequences in the electrophysiological signal (e.g., elicitation of ERP components such as the N400, N200, LAN, and P600), three questions were tackled: I At which moment is context information used in the spoken-word recognition process? II What is the temporal relationship between lexical selection and integration of the meaning of a spoken word into a higher-order level representeation of the preceding sentence? III What is the time course of the processing of different sources of linguistic information obtained from the context, such as phonological, semantic and syntactic information, during spoken-word comprehension? From the results of this thesis it can be concluded that sentential context already exerts an influence on spoken-word processing at approximately 200 ms after word onset. In addition, semantic integration is attempted before a spoken word can be selected on the basis of the acoustic signal, i.e. before lexical selection is completed. Finally, knowledge of the syntactic category of a word is not needed before semantic integration can take place. These findings, therefore, were interpreted as providing evidence for an account of cascaded spoken-word processing that proclaims an optimal use of contextual information during spoken-word identification. Optimal use is accomplished by allowing for semantic and syntactic processing to take place in parallel after bottom-up activation of a set of candidates, and lexical integration to proceed with a limited number of candidates that still match the acoustic input

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  • Van Alphen, P. M. (2004). Perceptual relevance of prevoicing in Dutch. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen. doi:10.17617/2.58551.

    Abstract

    In this dissertation the perceptual relevance of prevoicing in Dutch was investigated. Prevoicing is the presence of vocal fold vibration during the closure of initial voiced plosives (negative voice onset time). The presence or absence of prevoicing is generally used to describe the difference between voiced and voiceless Dutch plosives. The first experiment described in this dissertation showed that prevoicing is frequently absent in Dutch and that several factors affect the production of prevoicing. A detailed acoustic analysis of the voicing distinction identified several acoustic correlates of voicing. Prevoicing appeared to be by far the best predictor. Perceptual classification data revealed that prevoicing was indeed the strongest cue that listeners use when classifying plosives as voiced or voiceless. In the cases where prevoicing was absent, other acoustic cues influenced classification, such that some of these tokens were still perceived as being voiced. In the second part of this dissertation the influence of prevoicing variation on spoken-word recognition was examined. In several cross-modal priming experiments two types of prevoicing variation were contrasted: a difference between the presence and absence of prevoicing (6 versus 0 periods of prevoicing) and a difference in the amount of prevoicing (12 versus 6 periods). All these experiments indicated that primes with 12 and 6 periods of prevoicing had the same effect on lexical decisions to the visual targets. The primes without prevoicing had a different effect, but only when their voiceless counterparts were real words. Phonetic detail appears to influence lexical access only when it is useful: In Dutch, the presence versus absence of prevoicing is informative, while the amount of prevoicing is not.

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  • De Vos, C. (2012). Sign-spatiality in Kata Kolok: How a village sign language in Bali inscribes its signing space. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    In a small village in the north of Bali called Bengkala, relatively many people inherit deafness. The Balinese therefore refer to this village as Desa Kolok, which means 'deaf village'. Connie de Vos studied Kata Kolok, the sign language of this village, and the ways in which the language recruits space to talk about both spatial and non-spatial matters. he small village community Bengkala in the north of Bali has almost 3,000 inhabitants. Of all the inhabitants, 57% use sign language, with varying degrees of fluency. But of this signing community (between 1,200 and 1,800 signers, depending on your definition of 'signer'), only 4% are deaf. So, not only do the deaf people of Bengkala use the sign language Kata Kolok, but also the majority of the hearing population. "I've worked with deaf people from all over Asia, Europe, and also some signers in America," says Connie de Vos of MPI's Language and Cognition Department, and Centre for Language Studies (RU). "What sets apart this particular deaf village is that deaf individuals are highly integrated within the village clans. There is really a huge proportion of hearing signers." The sign language currently functions in all major aspects of village life and has been acquired from birth by multiple generations of deaf, native signers. According to De Vos, Kata Kolok is a fully-fledged sign language in every sense of the word. As a collaborative project, she has initiated inclusive deaf education within the village and now Kata Kolok is used as the primary language of instruction. De Vos' primary finding is that Kata Kolok discourse uses a different system of referring to space than other sign languages. Spatial relations are represented by a so-called "absolute frame of reference", based on geographic locations and wind directions. "All sign languages, as we know, use relative constructions for spatial relations. They use signs comparable to words like 'left' and 'right' instead of 'east' and 'west'. Kata Kolok does the latter. Kata Kolok signers appear to have an internal compass to continually register their position in space."De Vos is the first sign linguist who has documented Kata Kolok extensively. She spent more than a year in the village and collected over a hundred hours of video material of spontaneous conversations. "One of the things I've noticed is that language doesn't really emerge out of nothing," she says. "Signers adopt a local gesture system and transform it into a new and much more systematic sign language. A lot of the signs refer to concepts they're familiar with. That's why hearing signers have no difficulties in picking up Kata Kolok. Kata Kolok unites the hearing and the deaf.
  • Weber, K. (2012). The language learning brain: Evidence from second language learning and bilingual studies of syntactic processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    Many people speak a second language next to their mother tongue. How do they learn this language and how does the brain process it compared to the native language? A second language can be learned without explicit instruction. Our brains automatically pick up grammatical structures, such as word order, when these structures are repeated frequently during learning. The learning takes place within hours or days and the same brain areas, such as frontal and temporal brain regions, that process our native language are very quickly activated. When people master a second language very well, even the same neuronal populations in these language brain areas are involved. This is especially the case when the grammatical structures are similar. In conclusion, it appears that a second language builds on the existing cognitive and neural mechanisms of the native language as much as possible.
  • Xiang, H. (2012). The language networks of the brain. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Abstract

    In recent decades, neuroimaging studies on the neural infrastructure of language are usually (or mostly) conducted with certain on-line language processing tasks. These functional neuroimaging studies helped to localize the language areas in the brain and to investigate the brain activity during explicit language processing. However, little is known about what is going on with the language areas when the brain is ‘at rest’, i.e., when there is no explicit language processing running. Taking advantage of the fcMRI and DTI techniques, this thesis is able to investigate the language function ‘off-line’ at the neuronal network level and the connectivity among language areas in the brain. Based on patient studies, the traditional, classical model on the perisylvian language network specifies a “Broca’ area – Arcuate Fasciculus – Werinicke’s area” loop (Ojemann 1991). With the help of modern neuroimaging techniques, researchers have been able to track language pathways that involve more brain structures than are in the classical model, and relate them to certain language functions. In such a background, a large part of this thesis made a contribution to the study of the topology of the language networks. It revealed that the language networks form a topographical functional connectivity pattern in the left hemisphere for the right-handers. This thesis also revealed the importance of structural hubs, such as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, which have more connectivity to other brain areas and play a central role in the language networks. Furthermore, this thesis revealed both functionally and structurally lateralized language networks in the brain. The consistency between what is found in this thesis and what has been known from previous functional studies seems to suggest, that the human brain is optimized and ‘ready’ for the language function even when there is currently no explicit language-processing running.

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