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Lecture 2

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Jonathan Howell

th Sept 17 , 2012 Lecture 2: Introduction/ Brain & Language Intro Continued:  Big Debates [what psycholinguists care about?]  Methods Brain and Language Big Debates 1. Rules or Statistics [or both]?  Does linguistic behaviour governed by rules/constraints, or by statistical regularities [or both]?  The computer Method  Symbolic representation [Chomsky]  Pattern recognition, machine learning  Neural Networks Example: Is syntax predictable from statistics?  Finite State Grammar Colorless green ideas sleep furiously [Chomsky]  Phrase structure rules Ex2. U-shaped acquisition of past tense Regular forms (-ed): walked, played Irregular forms: came, went, held, broke Stage 1: walked, played, came, went Stage 2: walked, played, comed, goed, holded Stage 3: walked, played, breaked, broke Stage4: walked, played, came, went, held Are children acquiring different phrase structure rules at each stage? Or are their representations probabilistic? Nature vs. Nurture  2 endpoints in the debate o Empiricists: all nurture o Nativists: all nature  Some evidence to consider o Speed of language acquisition o Linguistic ability vs. other cognitive abilities of toddlers o Any language can be acquired, provided the right input o Critical age hypothesis (after 3, your ability to learn new things takes a longer time and if you don’t learn language before 3 the chances of you picking it up is very low) o Animals appear to lack language Autonomous or interdependent processes?  Is language mediated by independent modules or are processes interactive?  Example 1: Reading aloud would involve at least 2 modules o Module 1 - decode visual input at the beginning of task o Module 2 - perform articulatory operations at the end of the task Or, different parts of an interconnected network (e.g. visual processing and word recognition) interact to permit reading and articulation Language-specific or general cognitive properties?  Chomsky: distinct ‘language organ’ o Bat sonar  Others: Language a collection of other cognitive faculties Research Methods  Harley describes psycholinguists as ‘methodologically promiscuous (pluralistic) ’  Hypothesis Text Hypothesis Model Test etc. o Field techniques (e.g. case studies, observation of spontaneous speech) o Corpus techniques (e.g. analysis of a body of elicited or spontaneous speech, or other data) o Experimental Methods  Independent variables (e.g. age, gender, location of brain damage, sentence complexity, ambiguity)  Dependent variable (e.g. reaction time, brain wave activity, subjective ratings)  Subject (Human participant) o A few standard paradigms  Lexical decision paradigm  Subject judges whether the written stimulus is a word  Two dependent variables: response latency, response accuracy  Priming paradigm  How is stimulus influenced by a previous stimulus? o “Prime” (first thing) and “Target” (your interest) o Cat Dog - faster response o Pencil Dog - slo
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