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Lecture 7

PSY274 Lecture 7 (Oct 22).docx

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Craig Chambers

PSY274 Lecture 7 - Test preparation o Study! o Answer what you think you’re answering  Clear, coherent o Information on lecture notes doesn’t mean it’s the answer; they’re just supplements to the answers, so you may need to explain more in order to show that you understand - LAST LECTURE (continued) o Some people say umms and ahhs as a side signal that it’s intentional, but this theory has been cast out - How do listeners react to disfluencies? o “signal” or “noise”? o Recall issue with gestures: perhaps not intentionally communicative, but can nonetheless signal something to listener o Sensitivity to disfluencies: (lab experiments)  Perceived confidence of speakers  Ability to detect “repairs”  Effects on comprehension …  Read more in the article - Use of disfluency in anticipating reference in real time o Tasks with visual displays, measuring eye movements o Click on the ice cream o Click on the soccer ball o Click on the, uh, book o OR o Click on the book o More likelihood of visually anticipating BOOK in the disfluency condition when the noun unfolded over time o Assumption is that it would be strange for someone to repeat what they just said o Presence of disfluency allows one to predict what is coming next - Disfluency and utterance boundaries o Sandra bumped into the busboy and the waiter…told her to be careful. o Typically: slow to understand (I have to “reprocess” the sentence when final words are head) o If disfluency = present, most likely to reflect MAJOR division point in utterance o I) Sandra bumped into the busboy and the, uh, waiter told her to be careful o 2) Sandra bumped in the busy boy and the water, uh, told her to be careful o People perceive I) as more natural than (2) - Disfluencies – Summary o Produced due to sentence planning and production factors (choices, cognitive load) o Perception by listeners reflects the idea that they are not simply “edited out” (listeners use disfluencies to help predict what a speaker is trying to articulate, based on a judgement of what would/would not be difficult to say) - Language and thought (TODAY’S LECTURE) - Starting point: o Worldwide – popular assumption that language has some kind of relationship with the way we think o Today’s goal: evaluate scientific evidence for or against this idea - Challenges in framing the question o 1. What exactly is meant by ‘language’? o 2. What exactly is meant by ‘thought’? o 3. What exactly is meant by ‘affects’ or ‘influences/constrains’? o 4. How can we test the issues scientifically? o Many studies on this topic have failed to specify points 1-3 with precision and point 4 is always a significant challenge o If we don’t specify the parameters, it’s like asking if “does water affect a rock?” yes & no - Four perspective s to consider o 1. A) Does thought in general REQUIRE language? If not…  B) does language in general INFLUENCE thought? o 2. A) does knowing a specific language constrain how we think? If not…  B)Does knowing a specific language have a more subtle influence on how we think - 1a. Does language equal thought? o Core idea here: thinking is a kind of internal monologue o Why might we want to answer “yes” to this question?  People usually think they do because they talk though thinking o BUT:  What about behaviours observed in  Prelinguistic infants?  Young deaf children with hearing parents?  Animals? - Examples: animal cognition o Monkey A attacks Monkey B o Monkey B’s sibling retaliates by attacking monkey A’s siblings o What is the thought process here?  …analogical reasoning, a version of A is to B as C is to D - “Reasoning” in crows o Food source A and B o Barrier prevents dominant crow to see food source o Which one will the crows go? o Calculation based on what the other crows go to - So, does thinking require language? (are th two one and the same?) NO o Does language weaker alternative in general influence thinking?  Common test case for this question:  Studies of cognitive development in children  (assumption: evolving language experience should entail changes in cognition) - Example study: Welder and graham o Infants shown a test object, and a non-obvious property is demonstrated which is a ding sound (e.g. if you touch the top of the object, it rings) )phase 1 o Infants then shown a new test object that varies in terms of its perceptual similarity to the initial object (high/med/low) - Measure: how long infants manually explore test object (e.g. to see if this one has the same non-obvious property) o …reflects whether infant considers new object to be in the same category as initial one o Second version of experiment: same as before, except a novel label is provided for each phase (e.g. this is a flicket!”) o Results  If no label given, children rely on perceptual similarity to guide inference about category membership  (Exploration: high sim. > med sim. > low sim.)  If label provided, increases exploration and reduces differences related to perceptual similarity  Labels seem to indicate that the items belong to same category and have same characteristics o Interpretation: when label is provided, serves as cue indicating things belong to the same conceptual category o Implication: “labels” for things serve as important cues for category membership, and can overshadow perceptual criteria  When label was absent, use perceptual, when labels are provided, suddenly those categories aren’t important anymore o In this sense, language (in general, i.e. having labels for things) can “affect” thought - What about the idea that speakers of different languages might think differently? - 2a. Does knowing a specific language CONSTRAIN how we think? - Background: “natural kinds” o The natural kinds hypothesis provides one idea about how we perceive the world o Things in the external world fall “naturally” into different categories based on similar characteristics that some things have o How might this work?  One idea (“prototype theory”)  World consists of numerous objects  Objects sharing lots of properties yield “clusters” - Example: “bugs” and “food/drink” categories o Notion that things are in bundle of features and those that share the same features will fall into the same categories o We can also think of things and put them together with things that may not have a lot of commonalities - Example: “things at a picnic” o Putting some items from bugs and food/drink together in a chart o Categories don’t come to us automatically from the world - Alternative view: there are no fixed natural divisions in the world that define categories, they’re just in our head o Opens possibility that these categories are defined by aspects of human experience, including culture and/or LANGUAGE - Early studies of language and thought: key figures o Franz Boas (anthropologist)  Before Boas, less and more advanced cultures  Different culture can differ from each other and has nothing to do with advancements  Not looking at a continuum; characterizing cultures based on their own characteristics o Edward Sapir (linguist)  More objective and meaningful way to look at language  Not about sophistication or advancements in culture  Sapir did the same thing as Boas, but more in terms of language instead of culture o Benjamin Lee Whorf (insurance adjuster)  Interesting ideas on the effects of language - Whorf quote o “we dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages”  So not presented in nature already and given to us - Linguistic relativity o Differences in the lexicon and syntax of languages are mirrored by non-linguistic cognitive differences o Neutral on directionality of effect:  Could be: culture  thinking  language  Or: language  thinking (what Whorf is interested in) o Correlation is not causation - Linguistic determinism o Speakers of different languages think differently BECAUSE of the differences in their languages  i.e. language  thinking - How do we conduct research on this topic? o Background: Whorf, Snow, and armchair speculation  OLD THEORY: Eskimos has many different words for the word “snow” and therefore they think differently  There are many Inuit languages in the north  Their words are not built the same way such as adjectives o Fluffy snow, crunchy snow, wet snow, etc; o It looks like new words, but it’s not. 
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