• The ggenerativity of language is even more saliey when we consider the upper levles of the hierachy the levels of phrases and
• you can create many different sentences
• there are limits on which combinatios are acceptable and whichnot.
• virtually, any speaker of the lanague would afree these sequences have something wrong in them, suggesting that speakers shomehow
respect the rules of syntazrules governing the sequence of words in a phrae or sentence.
• one might say that the rules of synatx depend on meaning, so that meaninful squenuences are accepted as sentences while meaningless
sequences are rejected as nonsentences this is wrong
• poetry, for example is not always perfectly synatax.
• it seems, therefore, that we need princples of syntax that are seperate from considerations of semantics of sensibiltiy.
• What is syntax? one part is phrase structure
• these are stimplulations that list the elements that must appear in a phrase, as well as (for some
languages) the squence of those elemnts. The rules alos specify the overall organization of the
• one phrase structure states that we need a noun phrase and a verb phrase.
• one way to depict these rules is with a tree structure like in 9..7.
• you can rad this bfrom top to bottom and as you move from one level to the next, ypu can see that
each elemtn has been expanded in a fashion thats sticly governed by the phrase strucutre; it shows
that the overall setence iteself, consists of a noun phrase, plus a verb phrase. the noun phrase is
composed of a determiner followed by an adjective and a noun. The verb phrase is composed of a
verb followed by a noun phrase.
Prescriptive Rules, Descriptive Rules
• prescriptive rules-- rules describing how lanague is supposed to be.
• the change in the way grammar rules are make it hard to make an argument for prescriptive rules
• thus, the selection of prescriptive rules, therefore, may simply reflect the preferences of a
particular group==and in most settings the gorup that defines these rules will of course be the
group with the most prestige or social cachet. • phrase structures n contrast, are decriptive rules-- rules characterizing the languge as it is
ordinarily used by fluent speakers and listeners. These patterns simply describe hoe English is
structured-- or perhaps we should say what English is
The Function of Phrase Structure
• we have internaized these rules of English.; this is evident in the fact that many aspects of
language use are relaibily in line with the rules.
• people have clear intutions about how the words in a sentence should be grouped.
• the groupings provided by the phrase structure therefore oranize a sentence, and this shapes our
intutions about a sentences parts
• the organization can also influence memeory: once organized into a phrase structure, these
sequences were much easier to recall
• most important: phase strcutrues rules help us undertsand the sentence we hear or read, because
syntax in general specifies the rlelationships among the words in each sentence.
• The role of phrase strcuture in guding undertsanding, can be confirmed in a fashion thats
informative and often funny: sometimes two different phrase structures can lead to the same
sequence of words, and if you encountered thse wordss, you may not know which phrase
strcuture was intented.
• pjrase sructures guide interpretation, then with mutple phrase structures avalibale, there should be
more than oneway to interpret the sentence.
• the rules determine what units can be combined, and in what order
• the rules also specify a structure within the larger units. and, remarkably, the rules are quire
similar as we move from one language to the next.
• the regularities constite lingusitic universals that is princples applicable to every human
• some identitfy the inventory of lingusitc constituents and so all languages, for example, include
both nouns and verbs; all languages include pronouns..
• some universals in contrast are ramed in terms of prbabilties. this in all the worlds languages,
some sequences of words are common, while other sequnces are quite rare. like subject precedes
the obkect in english when vice versa happens in other languages.
• other universals concern lingusitic features that seem to come and go together. For example,
when languges perfer subjectobjectverb, then they are likely to form questiosn by adding some words at theend of the question.;; in english it si subjectverb object i.e. words at the beginning
of the question.
• how is all this complexity master so quickly?
• language learning occurs so rapidly because each child beings the process with an enormous head
start: biological heritage that somehow stimpulates the braodoutline of human language, i.e. the
child beings language learning already knowing the universal rules; the task for the child,
therefore, is to figure out exactly ow the rules are realzied within the language community in
which she is raised. then the child can switch on the language machinery to learn their language
• How do you prase a sentence-- that is figure out each words syntactic role?
• one possibiltiy is that you wait until the sentence end and only then go to work on figuring out the
strcuture.with this stratgey, your comprehnsion might be slowed a little (because of the wait for
the sentences termintation), but youd avoid errors, because your interpretation could be guided by
full information about the sentence content.
• this doesnt happen
• instead, they begin the idenitication process as soon as they hear the words very first phoneme.
the same occurs when you are interpreting sentences.
• this way is more efficient since there is no waitin, but it can lead to error
• even relatively simple setences can be ambigous if youre open minded.
• temporary ambiguityis also common inside a sentence; the earlier part of the sentence is often
open to multuple interpretations, but then the later part of the sentence clears things up.
• garden-path sentences: you are intially led to one interpretations (you are, as they say, led down
the garden path), but this interpretation then turns out to be wrong. hence, you need to reject your
fist construal and seek an alternative.
• you committ yourself farly early to one interpretation and then try to fit the next words as they
arrive into that interpretation.
• the risk is: that the info you need may come later in the sentence Syntax as a Guide to Parsing
• why do we chose one interpretation fo a sentence, on parsing, rather than anothers? (garden path)
• parsin is guided by an assumption of so-called minimal attachement--this means that the listener
or reader proceeds through a sentence seeking the simplest phrase structure that will acocmdate
the words heard so far.
• people tend to assume that theyll be hearing or reading active sentences rather than passive, so
they generally interpret a sentences intial noun phrase as the doer of the action and not the
recipient;; usually most are active.
• but this works against us when we have a passive sentence.
• parsing is also nfluenced by the function words that appear in a sentence and by various
morphemes that sgnal syntactic role
Background Knowledge as a Guide to Parsing
• parsing is also guided by background knowledge.
• people parse sentences that make sense to them
• when we have misinterpreted a setence, we go back and reread it, which is how this knowledge is
• using this technique, investogrs have examined the effects of plausibiltiy on eaders expectations
for the words theyre seeing.;; they reread the words, and then after they press onward when they
have misinterpreted the first time.
• people are also sensitive to statisical properties in the language and so, if a word has several
meanings, they assume its most frequent meaning whenever they encounter the word.
• we can see these actions in garden- path sentences
The Extralingistic Context
• you make use of the context in which you encounter sentences, including the conversational
context. Tus, the garden path problem is much less likely to occur.
• extralingusitic context is also important which is the physical and social setting in which you
The use of Language: What is Left Unsaid
• the rise and fall of speech intonation and pattern of pasues. these rhythms and pitch cues,
together called posody, play an important ole in speech perception. • prosody can reveal the moddoof a speaker, direct the listenrs attention by specifyng the focus or
theme of a setence., can render unambuigous a setnece that would otherwise be confusing
• we draw on arich fabric of additional knowledge including knowledge of pragmatics (i.e. of how
langauge is ordinarily used) and in this case, also knwoeldge about the romance.
The Biological Roots of Language
• humans are equipped with sophisticated neural machinery specialized for learning adn then using,
• this is a distruption to language
• Two board classes of ashasia. Damage to the left frontal lobe of the brain, and especially a region
known as Broca's area, usually procudes a pattern f symptoms known as nonfluent aphasia.
• Wernicke's area, damange usually involved a pattern known as fluent aphasia. They produce
sentences, but even though they talk freely they actually say very little.
• these categories captures he data only in the braodest sense because langauge is complex.
• brain lesisons-produced by injurty or by stroke-- are oftenlarge enough to disrupt multiple brain
areas, and so can produce a mizture of symptoms. hard to punpoint where there is damange in the
brain, and hard to diagnose aphasia.
• humans do have a considerable amount of neural tissue that is specialized for lanague
The Biology of Lanaguage Learning
• it happens rapidly when they are young
• this learning proceeds at a normal pace in wide range of enviornments.
• children learn langauge even if their communication with aduls is entirely onlinguistic
• deaf children not taught sign lanauge, use their own lanague that is similar to our lanaguage to get
what htey wnnt.
• sophisticted learning capablties that all humans share, capacities that contribute to many aspects
of the young childs development, and not just the lanaguge
• other poeple state that the human brain contains several mechanisms specfically evolved for
lanague leanrning, so that, langauge learning is wired into our brains from the start. • children born with brain strcutures that somehow define the board structure of human langugage.
Learning process is one in whic the child simply has to figure out hwo the univeral strcuture is
realzie within his lanague community- what the parameters are for that particular lanague. this si
why lanague learning is fast and there is basic structure in all other lanagues
• this is supported by specific lanague impairment.-- disorder have niraml intelligence and no
problems with muscle movemnets need to produce lanague. they are slow to leanr lanague and
through their lvies have difficuly understanding and producing many sentences.
THe Process of Lanaguge Learning
• language depends on children picking up information from their enviornment
• imitations is proposed, but evidence suggests against that
• later children realize they dont have to emmeorize words, but to add ed onto the end of
memrphemes, ie mulupluating them
• overrgulatization errors: they say things, overgeneralize their use of the plural ending. they arent
inimtimdating adults because adults never use these overregulaization like i runned.
• adults react to messages that children convey in their lanage--and so they repsond postiviely to
the message. adults almost never correct their childrens grammar, and when they do, the childen
seem oblivisous to it.
• What , then do the learning mechanisms involve?
• key -the fact that children are exuistely sensitive to patterns and regularities in what they hear, as
though each child were na astute statistication, keeping track of the freqncy of occurence of this
form or that.
• thus babies had learned the vocabulary of this made up alangeu. they had detected the statistical
pattern of which syllables followed, which despite their rather breif, entirely passive exposure to
these sounds and despite the absence of any supporting cues such as pasues or shfits in intonation.
• langauge learning relies on a theme that has been in view throughout thhis chapter: lanague has
many elemtnts (syntax,semantics, phonology, prosody), and these elemtns interact in ordinary
• semantc bootstrapping- children rely on their knowledge of emantic relationships as a bsis for
figuring out synatx.
• they rely on everytihing-- so read page 355 Chapter 11, pp. 399423; Chapter 11 pp.
• ourmemeories are selective sometimes
• information and be ambigous or incomplete.
• questions about frequencies-- assessments of how often various events have happened in the past.
In this fashion, frequency estimates are often curical for our judgements.
• you rely on attribute substitution, a stragety of using easily avalibale information that (you hope)
is a plausible substituion for th einformation you seek.
• youre basing your judgements on avalibailtiiy-- that is, how easily and how quickl you can come
up with relevant examples. this is referred to as the availabiltity heuistic.
• you mgiht not have easy access to information , you use memory or logic
• probabiltiy- the probality that youd work out well because you look like jane he hired and instead
relies on resemblance. this particular substituion is referred to as the representativeness heuristic.
The availability Heuristic.
• Heuristics are different strategies that usually lead you to the right answers.
• heuristics allow errors
• the attribute being used (avalibailtiiy or reemblance) is easy to assess, and that is the source of
• frequent things are avlaible in memory, so avlaibiltiiy is an index in frequency.
• cateogires are homogenous enough so that members of a category do reslembe each other-- so
you can rely on resemblance
• you are more likely to remmber words that begin with R rather than those that have a third letter
as r because, with your memory is organized roughly like a dictionary, with the words sharing a
starting sound all grouped together. Consquently, its easy to search memory using staritng letters
as your cue, a search based on r in the third position is more difficult. the organization of memeory creates a bias in whats easily avalibale, and this bias in avalibailtiy leads to an error in
The Wide Range of Availabilitiy Effects
• rely on avalaibility when they are making important judgements--they overestimate events like
winning the lottery.
• relying n the avaolabilitiy heuistic, youll overestimate the frequncy of these discintive events and
correspondingly, overestimate the likehood of similar events happening in the future.
• participants who recalled fewer episodes judged themselves to be more assertive (when they were
told to recalle siz times they were being asservative and the other group recalling 12 times they
• notice, irongically that the particpants who recalled more episodes actually had more evidence in
their view for assertiveness. but evidence doesnt matter, but instead focused on the avalibailitiy
• they deemd this task harder- the 12 because it of the avalibailtiy heuristic, not that the task was
harder, conlcuding that being assertiv was relatively infrequnt in their past
• another example is overestimating their chances of encountering terroisms
• what procuded this error? the likihood of these events, people are heavily influenced by the
pattern of media coverage.
The Represenativeness Heuristic
• strategy relying on resemblance when what youre really after is a judgement of probabiltiy,
including the probabily that a particular case belongs in a specific category.
• this is efficient, and leads to correct judgements
• many of the cateogires you enconte are relatively homogenous: the cateogry of birds, with regard
to the traits og having wings etc.
• the represetatives heuristic capailized on this homogeneity: we expect each idnividual to reseble
the other individuals in the category (and thus we expect each individual to be representative of