Class Notes (834,364)
Canada (508,503)
Psychology (3,977)
PSYC 2650 (196)
Dan Meegan (73)
Lecture 19

Tuesday, Nov 13/2012 - Lecture 19

8 Pages
Unlock Document

PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan

Tuesday, November 13/2012 PSYC 2650 Lecture 17 Syntax: Phrase Structure • The hierarchical division of the sentence into units called phrases • Language is one of those topics that can be very technical • Some of that technical content is not necessary for an introductory cognition course • Syntax is the most important aspect of grammar ◦ When referring to people with bad grammar you are typically referring to their misuse of english syntax rules ◦ Syntax: Rules governing the sequences and combinations of words in the formation of phrases and sentences ▪ All languages have rules that govern how words are ordered so that they make sense (even if those rules aren't all the same) • Phrases are smaller than sentences but still possess conceptual meaning • NP: Noun phrase ◦ Describing the subject of the sentence ◦ Describing any noun or object either acting or being acted on in a sentence • VP: Verb phrase ◦ Describing the action of the subject of the sentence ◦ Don't need to know these terms for the exam SyntacticAmbiguity • Focus is on parsing • Parsing: Understanding what other people are saying to you • Some people you speak to are easy to understand and other people are more difficult to understand • Syntactic ambiguity makes parsing more difficult • In syntactic ambiguity, there are two possible interpretations of the same sentence. ◦ Asentence with more than one possible phrase structure • Example: ◦ He wants to discuss sex with Dick Cavett (Dick Cavette has a talk show) ▪ Interpretation 1:Amale participant is coming onto a show to discuss sexual issues ▪ Interpretation 2: Two individuals who have had sex with Dick Cavette are going to discuss his sexual prowess ◦ I saw the gorilla in my pajamas ◦ The shooting of the hunters was terrible ◦ They are roasting chickens ◦ Visiting relatives can be awful ◦ Two computers were reported stolen by the TV announcer Parsing and Phrase Structure • When comprehending sentences, we interpret individual phrases and then combine these interpretations • Even though we may not feel it, our minds are aware of the phrases as part of the sentences • At the boundary between phrases is an important place for parsing • Evidence... Effects of Presentation on Comprehension • FormAand Form B are written the same way but read differently • Commas something you use as a writer to give the reader a clue about when to parse • As a speaker, the comma introduces a pause • Pauses indicate when the listener should think about what you have just said • Form B sounds strange when it is read aloud because breaks were inserted in the middle phrases instead of at phrase boundaries like in FormA • FormA: ◦ During World War II, ◦ even fantastic schemes ◦ received consideration ◦ if they gave promise ◦ of shortening the conflict • Form B: ◦ During World War ◦ II, even fantastic ◦ schemes received ◦ consideration if they gave ◦ promise of shortening the conflict • Sentences were read one line at a time, in either formAor form B • Better comprehension was found inAthan B ◦ What we take from this is that the boundaries between phrases are points where we understand ◦ If we break sentences at phrase boundaries, comprehension is optimized ◦ If we break sentences inside phrase boundaries, comprehension is debilitated Effects of Phrase Structure on Reading Speed • If you are reading and it's an important place to parse, you may spend measurably more time there • Read sentences word-by-word. Press a button to view the next word • Even though the differences are small, there is a reliable difference between how long you spend on each word • Measured amount of time subjects looked at a word before pressing • Results: With the completion of each major phrase, subjects need time to process the phrase • Bars indicate the phrase boundary (eg. 1 bar is the first phrase boundary, 2 bars is the second phrase boundary) • As far as mental chronometry goes, the time taken really is significant ARecency Effect for Non-Semantic Details • Subjects heard passages • When interrupted, they had to write down as much of the passage as they could remember • Task was to write down literally every word you could remember ◦ Not to write down your comprehension – but the words • Having failed to disprove the charges, Taylor was later fired by the president • People are very accurate at identifying the words in the last half of the sentence • People are poor at identifying the words at the beginning of the sentence ◦ Implies that parsing has not happened yet ◦ Drop-off of word memory is a phrase boundary ▪ Parsed the first phrase and then you no longer remember the words, but rather you remember the meaning ▪ You remember the meaning of the sentence, but not the sentence word for word ▪ You can't throw away the words and their order until you have parsed them and determined their semantic content ARecency Effect for Non-Semantic Details • Once phrase has been processed there is no need Word-by-Word Comprehension • May have implied that we take in a bunch of words and once we arrive at a phrase boundary, we parse all the words in our “buffer” • Not really the way it happens, though • As each word comes in, you are actively trying to interpret things ◦ When you get to a phrase boundary you can then make sense of a larger piece of information • We do not wait for a phrase to end before attempting to interpret its meaning • Immediacy of Interpretation: People try to extract meaning out of each word as it arrives Eye Movements During Reading • Time spent looking at an individual word is proportional to its meaningfulness • Showed individuals a page of text and monitored eye movements as they read • Eye movements do follow the text, but spend more time on phrase boundaries and important/meaningful words Garden-Path Sentences • Word-by-word interpretation can get us into trouble • Garden-Paths are mazes • In language, if you're listening to something that has multiple interpretations, you have to make a quick decision about which interpretation is the most likely • Commit to one interpretation of a transiently ambiguous sentence before all of the relevant information is available ◦ These are sentences that by the end can only have one way to interpret it, but at earlier points in the sentence there is ambiguity • Example: ◦ The old train the young ◦ If you only hear “the old train” you would think of an older freight train, probably not using train as a verb ◦ Really means that older individuals teach younger individuals ◦ In the end, there is really only one interpretation, but when you hear only the first portion, ambiguity is introduced ◦ Often ambiguity is introduced by the presence of homonyms in the sentence Syntactic Cues for Comprehension • Word order • Function words • Word inflections Word Order • Same words in a different order produces a different meaning • Not all orders are legal, so you can't simply randomly shuffle them around • Example: ◦ The dog bit the cat ◦ The cat bit the dog ◦ Obviously these two sentences are very different in meaning Function Words • The boy the girl liked was sick ◦ Transient ambiguity that is not necessarily because of word choice, but word ordering ◦ eg. The boy, the girl, and the dog... (When you hear two nouns without and suggests that a list is coming up) • Use function word to avoid ambiguity ◦ The boy whom the girl liked was sick. ◦ Make
More Less

Related notes for PSYC 2650

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.