Here you will find the posters presented in all the previous Language @ Edinburgh lunches:

71st lunch: Thursday, 13th February 2020

70th lunch: Thursday, 12th December 2019

69th lunch: Thursday, 24th October 2019

68th lunch: Thursday, 13th June 2019

67th lunch: Thursday, 11th April 2019

66th lunch: Thursday, 14th February 2019

65th lunch: Thursday, 13th December 2018

64th lunch: Thursday, 25th October 2018

63rd lunch: Thursday, 21st June 2018

61st lunch: Thursday, 15th February 2018

60th lunch: Thursday, 7th December 2017

59th lunch: Thursday, 19th October 2017

58th lunch: Thursday, 22nd June 2017

56th lunch: Thursday, 16th February 2017

55th lunch: Thursday, 1st December 2016

54th lunch: Thursday, 20th October 2016

53rd lunch: Thursday, 16th June 2016

50th lunch: Thursday, 10th December 2015

49th lunch: Thursday, 22nd October 2015

48th lunch: Thursday, 11th June 2015

47th lunch: Thursday, 30th April 2015

46th lunch: Thursday, 19th February 2015

45th lunch: Monday, 24th November 2014

44th lunch: Monday, 13th October 2014

43rd lunch: Wednesday, 18th June 2014

42nd lunch: Thursday, 20th March 2014

41st lunch: Friday, 7th February 2014

Josef Fruehwald
Alessandra Cervone
Richard Stöckle-Schobel

40th lunch: Thursday, 28th November 2013

39th lunch: Thursday, 17th October 2013

38th lunch: Thursday, 13th June 2013

37th lunch: Thursday, 9th May 2013

36th lunch: Friday, 8th February 2013

35th lunch: Thursday, 29th November 2012

34th lunch: Friday, 5th October 2012

33rd lunch: Friday, 8th June 2012

32nd lunch: Thursday, 12th April 2012

31st lunch: Friday, 10th February 2012

30th lunch: Thursday, 1st December 2011

29th lunch: Friday, 7th October 2011

28th lunch: Friday, 10th June 2011

27th lunch: Wednesday, 6th April 2011

26th lunch: Friday, 4th February 2011

San Diu, a language spoken in Northern Vietnam which is mostly found in Tuyen Quang, Thai Ngyuen, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang and Quang Ninh provinces is understudied. The genetic relationship between San Diu and other languages is still not clear. There have been claims that San Siu is a form of Chinese language (Pham & Nguyen 2014: 89). Edmondson and Gregerson (2007: 744) stated that it is a form of archaic Cantonese, possibly related to Pinghua which is spoken in modern day Guangxi, China. Haudricourt (1960) compared 5 languages in the region of Moncay with Cantonese and Hakka and he classified San Diu under Hakka. In Ngyuen’s (2013) study, she compared San Diu vocabularies with three Chinese dialects: Yue (Guangzhou), Hakka (Meixian) and Southern Min (Teochew). She found that around 2/3 of the San Diu vocabularies are similar to Hakka (lexically and for some, phonetically). To explore the genetic classification of San Diu further, I will be using shared innovations as a criterion for classification in this paper. This is another way to falsify previous claims and the observation made by surface synchronic comparison between Chinese dialects and San Diu. Innovations that are prototypical and unique to three Chinese dialect groups were chosen and compared with San Diu. Over 400 syllables were analysed overall. The result shows that, firstly, a huge amount of words are not from a Sinitic origin. Secondly, San Diu shares innovations with Yue and Hakka. I argue that the Sinitic words in San Diu largely came from Yue, since more innovations are shared with Yue than Hakka. This, however, does not dispute the possibility that Hakka words did not make their way to San Diu. Further studies are needed for a deeper understanding to the origin of this language.
This project aims to determine the vowel inventory of Central Mount Lebanon Lebanese (henceforth CMLL), on the basis of a comprehensive acoustic analysis of data from 19 speakers. By then running a phonological analysis of my results, I make a case for the existence of long front and back close-mid monophthongs, and a front-back contrast in low vowels (which is typologically rare), within both the surface and underlying phonological inventories. I discuss the diachronic origins of the [e] and [o] vowel qualities in CMLL, and argue that the underlying phonological inventory of CMLL has seen these various origins merge into two synchronic categories. Studies on the vocalic inventories of Arabic dialects typically postulate three short monophthongs and three or five vowel systems in long monophthongs (e.g. Watson, 2002 and Al-Ani, 1970). The six-quality underlying long vowel system I am thus proposing goes against traditional expectations and descriptions of the vocalic inventories of Arabic dialects.
Unsupervised part of speech (POS) tagging is often framed as a clustering problem, but practical taggers need to ground their clusters as well. Grounding generally requires reference labeled data, a luxury a low-resource language might not have. In this work, we describe an approach for low-resource unsupervised POS tagging that yields fully grounded output and requires no labeled training data. We find the classic method of Brown et al. (1992) clusters well in our use case and employ a decipherment-based approach to grounding. This approach presumes a sequence of cluster IDs is a `ciphertext' and seeks a POS tag-to-cluster ID mapping that will reveal the POS sequence. We show intrinsically that, despite the difficulty of the task, we obtain reasonable performance across a variety of languages. We also show extrinsically that incorporating our POS tagger into a name tagger leads to state-of-the-art tagging performance in Sinhalese and Kinyarwanda, two languages with nearly no labeled POS data available. We further demonstrate our tagger's utility by incorporating it into a true `zero-resource' variant of the MaLOPa (Ammar et al., 2016) dependency parser model that removes the current reliance on multilingual resources and gold POS tags for new languages. Experiments show that including our tagger makes up much of the accuracy lost when gold POS tags are unavailable.
Glottal stops are known to be quite variable in their production, often appearing as non-modal phonation rather than an interval of complete closure. Glottal stops in Upper Necaxa Totonac (UNT, spoken by about 3400 people in the Northern Sierra of Puebla State in Mexico), function both as phonemic segments adjacent to vowels and as prosodic markers of phrase boundaries. Acoustically, glottal stops are often easily confusable with laryngealized vowels, which are also contrastive in UNT. More than 70% of glottal stops transcribed in the Upper Necaxa Totonac Dictionary (Beck, 2011) were preceded by laryngealized vowels (Puderbaugh, 2019), suggesting that glottal stops may sometimes be allophonic realizations of laryngealized vowels, or vice versa. Glottal stops may also appear in fricative + stop clusters that have previously been reported as ejective fricatives. The present study investigates the acoustic realizations of /ʔ/ in relation to the phonetic contexts in which they occur and relates the findings to issues in methodology for projects in documentary linguistics. The data used in this study were provided by four speakers of UNT. Speakers were presented with word list items one at a time and asked to produce each word within a frame sentence. The data reveal approximately six acoustic types of /ʔ/ tokens ranging from intervals of complete closure to intervals of reduced amplitude between neighboring vowels. Each acoustic type is described according to their frequency of occurrence, the phonetic contexts in which they occur, and any observed inter- or intra-speaker variability. In fricative + /ʔ/ clusters, glottal stops appeared most frequently as distinct closure intervals, while glottal stops between vowels were often realized as intervals of non-modal phonation. The data also reveal instances of apparent [ʔ] that do not appear in the dictionary forms and therefore raise questions about how the phonemic categories have been established and defined. The results of this study highlight the usefulness of phonetic annotation and acoustic data for documentary linguistics, especially with respect to the establishment of methodologies that will lead to reliably reproducible phonemic analyses.
We use parsing as sequence labeling as a common framework to learn across constituency and dependency syntactic abstractions. To do so, we cast the problem as multitask learning (MTL). First, we show that adding a parsing paradigm as an auxiliary loss consistently improves the performance on the other paradigm. Secondly, we explore an MTL sequence labeling model that parses both representations, at almost no cost in terms of performance and speed. The results across the board show that on average MTL models with auxiliary losses for constituency parsing outperform singletask ones by 1.14 F1 points, and for dependency parsing by 0.62 UAS points
This investigation examines the realisation of Scottish singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt’s word medial, intervocalic /t/, a variable previously identified as an index of identity in the music of British pop musicians (Trudgill 1997, Beal 2009). We examine the entirety of Nesbitt’s discography and compare these realisations to those produced in five publicly-available interviews. We find that in speech, Nesbitt employs the glottal stop variant 90.6% of the time. In her music, however, the [t] and [ɾ] variants dominate. Further testing reveals a correlation between genre of song and realisation: [t] is associated with her acoustic music, whilst [ɾ] appears in her pop and pop-folk songs. No other independent variable (internal or external) accounts for this variation. We draw on Eckert’s (2008) notion of the indexical field to argue that Nesbitt employs these variants to construct a coherent musical identity, while also appealing to a more international, industry-mainstream audience.
This investigation is a CHILDES (MacWhinney, 2000) corpus based study of how 3-4 and 5-6 year old monolingual Spanish speaking children learn to disambiguate null and overt pronominal reference from the input they are exposed to whilst engaging in adult-child dyadic (dialogue) communicative acts, as they are involved in the active development of pragmatic awareness. It was found, that although there was no significant difference between both groups in terms of tokens belonging to either pronominalization strategy in the input the children received, there was, however, a difference in the types of lexical verbs and modes of child-adult interaction at each developmental step.
We have a wealth of historical data on births, deaths, and marriages from old parish records, but currently they are not available for large-scale digital analysis because they are not readily machine-readable. This project explores how we can convert scanned copies of such historic records from Austrian parishes in the late 19th century into csv files ready for analysis. The poster presents a possible workflow from jpg to csv, using Transkribus, a tool developed within the READ project funded within Horizon 2020, ReadFramework, an associated tool for batch-processing image files and applying a (table) template to all images, and R for data analysis after automatic transcription and extraction. Current challenges and open questions are highlighted, and discussion on how to address those would be highly welcome.
There is evidence to suggest that certain executive function (EF) skills are impaired in children with autism, underlying several of autism’s characteristics. There is also evidence to suggest that the regular use of two languages has the potential to extend EF capacities. The evidence is mixed and much remains unknown about the impact of bilingualism on the EF abilities of children with autism, with less than five studies published worldwide to date. Our objective is to investigate the impact of bilingualism on the EF performance of Arabic-English children with autism and their typically developing (TD) peers, using both direct tasks of EF as well as informant-measures, thus contributing to the evidence-base surrounding bilingual children with autism. 120 children aged 5-12 years, from 10+ nationalities based in the United Arab Emirates, participated in this study. Findings indicate a bilingual advantage for children with autism in sustained attention using a direct task, and equivalent performances between autistic bilingual and monolingual participants in interference control, flexible switching, and working memory (using both direct and informant tasks). Findings suggest that bilingualism in autism can have differential influences in executive function depending on the task and outcome variables. The reality is, parents, therapists, and educators around the world lack sufficient evidence to support their language decisions and choices for children with autism. We can infer from the results that bilingualism does not negatively impact EF skills in children with autism (contrary to wide-spread notions), and can potentially advantage EF processes like sustained attention. This is the first investigation at this interface to use Arabic-speaking populations and the first to include sustained attention.
This study examines the implications of pursuing a functional explanation for variable phonological rules, focusing on TD Deletion in American English. The phonological process whereby a final /t/ or /d/ is deleted in a consonant cluster has been a topic of intense scrutiny for decades, as it appears to be a prime example of a variable rule with non-phonological conditioning factors (e.g. Twaddell, 1935; Bybee, 1997). One such factor is morphological class, whereby monomorphemes, e.g. mist, exhibit higher rates of TD Deletion than regular past tense forms, e.g. missed, (Labov,1989). One attempt to explain this variability comes from the functionalist framework and involves positing a general strategy for ambiguity avoidance (Kiparsky, 1972). Consider the following two sentences: a. The city was covered in mist. b. I missed my grandmother. According to this functionalist approach a speaker would be less likely to delete the final stop in a than in b since doing so eliminates crucial grammatical information and modifies the meaning, whereas this does not happen if the stop is deleted in a. By this same reasoning a general strategy for ambiguity avoidance could affect levels of TD Deletion within the class of monomorphemes. For example, if a monomorpheme undergoes deletion and the resulting form is a homophone of another word then this also introduces ambiguity. Thus this functional theory would predict speakers to have lower rates of TD Deletion for monomorphemes where the truncated form has homophones. Using data from the Buckeye corpus I investigate this prediction by comparing rates of TD Deletion between monomorphemes with and without homophones. The results indicate that the presence of homophones do not affect rates of TD Deletion in monomorphemes and thus calls into question the explanatory power of ambiguity avoidance.
A recording of a Chinese dialect speaker counting from 1 to 10 was found. This recording was made in 2013 and the exact origin of the speaker is not clear. The only information we have is that this person is from the Fujian province, China. This information can save some time to find the origin of the speaker, but it is not extremely helpful, since the Fujian province is the homeland of the Min dialect. There are several sub-dialect groups within Min. They are all mutually unintelligible to one another (Yan 2006: 122) and it is not easy to find data for a variety of Min dialects. Having the Fujian province as a really linguistically diverse area, it makes it even more difficult to trace the potential origin of the dialect speaker of the recording. I used three different methods to find the potential origin of the speaker. First I looked for salient features that are present in the recording and compared them with the representative dialects of each Min sub-dialect group. The result shows that this variety is equally similar to Northern, Eastern Min and the Puxian dialect based on 6 features only. Next, I applied the FIT-technique (Benskin 1991b). The FIT-technique eliminate dialects with features that are not present in the unknown dialect on a map. It turns out that all the possible dialects in Fujian were eliminated using this method. Lastly, I applied dialectometry (Heeringa 2004, Nerbonne & Kretzschmar Jr. 2013), using the Levenshtein distance and hierarchical clustering. Levenshtein distance is “the notion of string-changing operations”. When cognates are compared, any deletion, insertion or substitution of segments are calculated between the two. Hierarchical clustering is grouping objects together from bottom-up. In this case, the objects will be the dialects. The unknown dialect appears to be clustered with the Puxian sub-dialect group of Min.
We present a neural narrative generation system that interacts with humans to generate stories. Our system has different levels of human interaction, which enables us to understand at what stage of story-writing human collaboration is most productive, both to improving story quality and human engagement in the writing process. We compare different varieties of interaction in story-writing, story-planning, and diversity controls under time constraints, and show that increased types of human collaboration at both planning and writing stages results in a 10-50% improvement in story quality and user engagement. Finally, we find that humans tasked with collaboratively improving a particular characteristic of a story are in fact able to do so, which has implications for future uses of human-in-the-loop systems.
This project investigates the patterns in the public language use of first-language Arabic speakers in the UK, as well as the intimidation experienced by this group and how it has affected their language attitudes towards Arabic and their use of Arabic in public. Through the use of online questionnaires and personal interviews, this study looked at where participants choose to use Arabic and English, their levels of comfort speaking Arabic in various public spaces and any intimidation they have experienced for speaking Arabic in public. The findings show that participants feel particularly uncomfortable speaking Arabic in ‘transit spaces’ such as on public transport and in public transport hubs (e.g. airports, train stations) and that participants will often switch from Arabic to English in public spaces to avoid unwanted attention. Intimidation is found to have a profound effect on participants’ public use of Arabic but, surprisingly, had very little effect on language attitudes towards Arabic.
T-glottaling is a well-studied variable in UK English and a well-known feature of Scottish varieties. Speaker age, gender, social class, and formality of talk are typical social predictors (e.g., Stuart-Smith 1999; Schleef 2013). Some have posited that the glottal variant may have been innovated in Scotland separately from in Southern England (Schleef 2013; Smith & Holmes-Elliott 2018). To explore the constraints on glottal realization, as well as this polygenetic hypothesis, we consider variation within Scotland. While Stuart-Smith (1999) identified differences within Glasgow according to social class, we consider differences within Scotland according to region and formality. A database of 17 famous Scottish women, selected based on the public availability of their speech and with the aim of maximizing regional and socioeconomic diversity, was compiled by a class of 36 university students. Born between 1955 and 1994, the speakers were classified according to five broad regional groups and three broad social class groups. Groups of coders obtained roughly 10 minutes of continuous speech per speaker. 3,469 tokens were fully coded twice, auditorily. Tokens were coded according to a binary distinction: ‘glottal stop’ and ‘alveolar stop’. Word-final and word-medial contexts were modeled separately. Internal constraints included number of syllables and following phonological environment. External constraints included speaker factors and contextual factors. Results from a best-fit mixed-effects logistic regression model for word-medial /t/ found only phonological context and number of syllables to be significant predictors. The model for word-final /t/ found these same effects, but also effects of region and formality. To unpack the interspeaker results we conduct an intraspeaker analysis to demonstrating how the ‘regional’ results may be a consequence of differences in social personae.
Classifiers are elements related to the noun phrase that often co-occur with numerals and other quantifying elements (Aikenvald, 2000). Languages that use classifiers tend to lack number marking morphology and (in)definite articles. Hence, the properties of nouns in ‘classifier languages’ and the roles of classifiers in marking number and (in)definiteness have been widely debated in the literature. It has been proposed that all nouns in classifier languages are inherently mass and classifiers function to individuate (Denny, 1986; Chierchia 1998), also that ‘bare classifiers’, which is the use of classifiers without numerals, function like definite articles (Cheng & Sybesma, 1999). Nung is a ‘classifier language' that lacks number marking morphology and (in)definite articles. I will present my primary fieldwork data on Nung to shed light on the properties of nouns and the functions of classifiers in a classifier language. My data suggests that not all nouns in the language are mass; and that although classifiers have a role to play in individuation, some classifiers do not seem to perform this function in some types of sentences. My data also suggests that definiteness is not indicated by bare classifiers alone; other factors, such as the position of the bare classifier construction in a sentence, appear to affect its (in)definite interpretation.
Mattia Zingaretti (Linguistics and English Language, University of Edinburgh) Research on first-language (L1) attrition mainly focuses on highly-proficient second-language (L2) speakers of English who come from a variety of L1 backgrounds (i.e. Italian, Greek, Spanish, among others). Speakers undergoing L1 attrition are usually daily users of L2 English, and the changes in L1 production and comprehension that they experience occur primarily at the level of lexical access, and (following Sorace and Filiaci’s ‘Interface Hypothesis’) at the ‘interface’ of syntax and other linguistic domains, especially pragmatics. The extent to which these changes are permanent, however, is under-explored, and so is the relationship between L1 attrition and successful L2 acquisition. We thus propose to scrutinise said relationship, by carrying out a longitudinal study on English learners of Italian at Scottish Universities, and Italian learners of English at Italian Universities - half of whom will be spending one semester in the L2 environment. The proposed experimental tasks (i.e. a picture-naming task and a picture-verification task with eye-tracking) analyse domains prone to L1 attrition, such as (1) lexical retrieval and (2) the interpretation of subject pronouns, to understand whether attrition affects only students immersed in the L2, or classroom-based learners, too. We also investigate a third environment wherein languages such as Italian and English are known to differ – that is, sentence stress - as a potential domain for L1 attrition to occur in. Follow-up tests aim to uncover the extent to which possible L1 attrition effects may be ultimately reversed, and variables such as L1-L2 attitudes/ motivation/ input and use/ age of acquisition and individual cognitive profiles are also taken into account.
Does language influence the way we think? This is an essential question to linguistic relativity. Past studies have found that Mandarin and English speakers think about time differently because of the different spatial-temporal metaphors that each language uses. Both Mandarin and English speakers employ a horizontal FRONT/BACK spatial metaphors to describe time, but only Mandarin speakers employ an additional vertical UP/DOWN spatial metaphors. Therefore, Mandarin speakers are more likely than English speakers to create vertical representations of time (e.g. Boroditsky, 2001; Boroditsky, Fuhrman & McCormick, 2010). In a more recent study by Hendricks & Boroditsky (2017) examined whether learning new metaphors can create the same kinds of differences in implicit associations between space and time. They point out that exposure to new space-time associations can affect the strength of specific space-time associations (Hendricks & Boroditsky, 2017). They suggest that our representations of time are highly dynamic and is can change with new experiences. This leads to my research question of whether existing space-time mappings can be weakened due to new experiences or lack of old experiences. By using a STARC (spatial temporal association of response codes) task, I will examine Mandarin-English bilingual speakers with varying L1 and L2 experience and use while living in the L2 environment. This hopes to explore the possibility of an effect of attrition if representations of time are dynamic and vulnerable to restructuring.
In a well-known paper, Pitler & Nenkova (2009) discussed usage ambiguity and sense ambiguity of explicit discourse connectives like 'when' and 'since'. Annotation of the PDTB-3 has revealed that explicit discourse connectives are also subject to other well-known types of ambiguity -- namely, Part-of-speech ambiguity, Multi-Word Expression (MWE) ambiguity, Scope ambiguity, and Semantic role ambiguity. These observations are relevant for both cross-linguistic understanding of discourse connectives and 'shallow' discourse parsing.
The temporal conjunction ‘since’ in dependent clauses can be used in two distinct ways: either to denote that one event happened prior to another event (anteriority), or to denote that two events are happening at the same time (simultaneity). In Slavic languages, these two different meanings are the result of the aspect used in the dependent clause. Consider the following two examples from Serbian: (1) Otkad je prvi list kestena zažuteo, sunce se nije pojavilo. ‘Since the first leaf of the chestnut turned yellow, the sun has not reappeared.’ (2) Od kad je na svetu, čovek se predeljuje između dva “ne”. ‘Since man has been on earth, he’s had to choose between the lesser of two evils.’ In example (1), the use of perfective aspect in the dependent clause results in a meaning of anteriority (i.e., the first leaf turned yellow before the sun stopped reappearing). Example (2), with imperfective aspect in the dependent clause results in a meaning of simultaneity (i.e., both events are ongoing) (Popović 2011). While this distinction as a result of aspect is attested across Slavic languages (e.g., Czech: van Duijkeren-Hrabová 2019; Polish: Genis 2018; Russian: Barentsen 1999), it does not take into account the role of tense and how it further impacts these meanings. For the current study, examples from Serbian and Croatian were considered to develop a more detailed description of possible temporal relations between events denoted with the conjunctions od kad, otkad(a) and otkako, ‘since’ (temporal). 246 examples were retrieved from the Amsterdam Slavic Parallel Corpus (ASPAC, Barentsen). These examples were analysed for aspect and tense in the main and dependent clause. Out of the 16 potential configurations of tense (past/present) and aspect (perfective/imperfective) between clauses, nine possible configurations were identified: three different types of anteriority and six different types of simultaneity. The different nuances in meaning will be described, and it will be explained how tense and aspect work together to denote these subcategories of meaning. This will be done using Reichenbach figures (Reichenbach 1947), which illustrate how the events in the main and dependent clauses relate to the moment of reference, the moment of speech, and to each other. Lastly, it will be explained why the seven unattested configurations – which are all of those containing perfective present tense – are a logical impossibility.
Large diachronic text corpora enable a data-based approach to the study of language change dynamics. The development of unsupervised methods for the inference of semantic similarity, semantic change and polysemy from such large datasets mean that, in addition to measuring orthographic similarity or counting frequencies, it is also possible to measure meaning and therefore the evolution of semantics and discourse topics over time. We present completed work on a baseline model of frequency change in corpora, the topical-cultural advection model, and show how the quantification of topical fluctuations (as a proxy to changing communicative need) predicts lexical competition in semantic subspaces. Lexical competition between a trending word and its closest semantic neighbours is operationalized using diachronic word embeddings and a measure of relative change in probability mass. We demonstrate, using large diachronic corpora in multiple languages, that a model incorporating the advection measure (and a number of lexicostatistical control variables) is capable of describing a considerable amount of variance in the competition variable: low communicative need leads to competition and possible replacement of an old word, while high communicative need facilitates co-existence of similar words.
Executable semantic parsing is the task of converting natural language utterances into logical forms that can be directly used as queries to get a response. We build a transfer learning framework for executable semantic parsing. We show that the framework is effective for Question Answering (Q&A) as well as for Spoken Language Understanding (SLU). We further investigate the case where a parser on a new domain can be learned by exploiting data on other domains, either via multi-task learning between the target domain and an auxiliary domain or via pre-training on the auxiliary domain and fine-tuning on the target domain. With either flavor of transfer learning, we are able to improve performance on most domains; we experiment with public data sets such as Overnight and NLmaps as well as with commercial SLU data. The experiments carried out on data sets that are different in nature show how executable semantic parsing can unify different areas of NLP such as Q&A and SLU.
Logographic Chinese and alphabetic English distinguished each over various aspects. The characteristics of the languages resulted in differential cognitive processing of information and brain networks involved in language processing. Consequently, Chinese native speakers primarily relied on visual coding and were more sensitive to visual information, and English speakers primarily relied on phonological coding and were sensitive to auditory information. Neural consequences are that brain structures and areas involved are different in native Chinese and English speakers when processing visual and auditory information. Based on these differences, we were curious about if these differences could extend from linguistic characteristics to cognitive functions. The current study compared Chinese monolinguals and English monolinguals on five well-established cognitive tasks. The results showed that Chinese speakers performed better on visual attention tasks (orienting in the Attention Network Task, and facilitation in the Number Stroop task), and mental rotation (Corsi Tapping task), while English speakers showed superior performance on auditory attention task (attentional switching in the Test of Everyday Attention). The results indicated that language scripts could affect individuals’ cognitive performance.
We introduce an open-domain neural semantic parser which generates formal meaning representations in the style of Discourse Representation Theory (DRT; Kamp and Reyle, 1993). We propose a method which transforms Discourse Representation Structures (DRSs) to trees and develop a structure-aware model which decomposes the decoding process into three stages: basic DRS structure prediction, condition prediction (i.e., predicates and relations), and referent prediction (i.e., variables). Experimental results on the Groningen Meaning Bank (GMB) show that our model outperforms competitive baselines by a wide margin.
Recent advances in data-to-text generation have led to the use of large-scale datasets and neural network models which are trained end-to-end, without explicitly modeling what to say and in what order. In this work, we present a neural network architecture which incorporates content selection and planning without sacrificing end-to-end training. We decompose the generation task into two stages. Given a corpus of data records (paired with descriptive documents), we first generate a content plan highlighting which information should be mentioned and in which order and then generate the document while taking the content plan into account. Automatic and human-based evaluation experiments show that our model outperforms strong baselines improving the state-of-the-art on the recently released RotoWire dataset.
Among the various modes of interpreting, simultaneous interpreting (SI) has been addressed by different authors as a ‘complex’ and ‘extreme condition’ of cognitive tasks while consecutive interpreters (CI) do not have to share processing capacity between tasks. Given that SI exerts great cognitive demand, it makes sense to posit that the output of SI may be more compromised than that of CI in the linguistic features. In keeping with our interest in investigating the quantitative linguistic factors discriminating between SI and CI, we examine the lexical and syntactic complexity and sequential organization mechanism as well as how much information was retained with an inter-model corpus of transcribed simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. While previous studies on interpreting studies generally regard SI as an extreme situation of multitasking with the highest cognitive load, our findings evidently show that CI may impose heavier or taxing cognitive resource differently and hence yields more lexically and syntactically simplified output. In addition, the sequential features manifest that different task features mediate the sequential organization of interpreting output under different demand to achieve cognitive load minimization. We consequently propose a revised effort model based on the result for a better illustration of cognitive demand during both interpreting types. A series of experiments simulating both tasks with priming paradigm are conducted to testify these possible production preferences in both SI and CI. Possible strategies to reduce the production effort during both tasks are revealed.
Cognitive theories of grammar (e.g. Goldberg, 1995) view speakers’ linguistic knowledge as a hierarchically structured network of form-meaning pairings, or constructions. I propose that the relationships between these constructions in the network can be tested with the help of structural priming methods, extending Branigan and Pickering’s (2017) recent arguments for using structural priming to investigate linguistic representations. I present the results of an online experiment testing structural priming effects between caused-motion and resultative sentences; see examples (1) and (2) below. The study used a novel ex-perimental design combining self-paced reading with speeded acceptability judgments. Partic-ipants were found to read resultative sentences faster after being primed with caused-motion sentences than after reading unrelated constructions. This suggests that resultative and caused-motion are different but related constructions. (1) Bill rolled the ball down the hill. (2) Herman hammered the metal flat. Further studies will, I argue, reveal whether differences in the size of priming effects can be reliably used to distinguish between types of constructional links. If so, structural priming promises to provide a powerful tool for advancing our models of the structure of the linguistic network.
The Union of the Parliaments between Scotland and England in 1707 seemed to signal the final blow for the Scots language (Murison, 1979), opening the doors for political and linguistic assimilation. Yet in the decades following the agreement, underlying political tensions within Scotland increased, fed both by international affairs and periods of turbulent unrest at home (Phillipson, 1970). During this time the Scots language also became increasingly associated with patriotism, and the period saw a resurgence in Scots vernacular poetry (Dossena, 2005). It is not clear however, whether such influences operating in the eighteenth century had a tangible influence upon writers known to have been for or against the Union. Utilising modern statistical methods such as random forests (Breiman, 2001), I undertook a quantitative examination of eighteenth-century Scots in a custom-built corpus (POLITECS), which contains writings both from general society and politically-active authors. First, the changing frequencies of a number of Scots lexical items were tracked across the corpus. This was followed by a sociolinguistic analysis of various extralinguistic factors, to explore the importance of political affiliation in determining authors’ choice to use Scots. Finally, a number of politically-motivated individuals were analysed in more detail, to identify whether their linguistic choices were split along pro- or anti-union lines.
In both the academic and non-academic worlds, the decline and death of languages remains a widely debated topic. The extent to which minority languages “naturally” die through “voluntary” shifts by their speakers to majority languages is an argument that permeates various sectors of society today including cultural, political, educational and humanitarian spheres. While some view the death of such languages as the end result of external manipulation which seeks to force speech communities to alter their linguistic practices to conform to the will of the majority – i.e. instances of “linguicide” (Skutnabb-Kangas & Phillipson, 1995) – others maintain that the shift from lesser used to more widely spoken languages constitutes a “pragmatic” (Edwards, 1985) and “utilitarian” (Beck & Lam, 2008) decision made by speakers, contributing to the social and economic betterment of themselves and their children – a form of “linguistic suicide” (Beck & Lam, 2008). This poster will consider both conceptualisations of language decline and death, before proposing that neither alone seems sufficient. While speakers, indeed, must be seen as having the final say on whether they will continue using their language, it is argued that external ideological forces often serve to influence the “attitude shifts” (cf. Sallabank, 2007) necessary for speakers to make the choice to shift. Drawing on governmental language policies from throughout France’s history, this poster will present potential “linguicidal ideologies” which, internalised by speakers, may have led to their decisions to leave behind their mother tongues, and ultimately to the rapid decline in France’s langues régionales witnessed today. To conclude, a possible “critical juncture” in French governmental language policy is highlighted, and its potential effects in reversing attitude shifts are contemplated.
The phonological history of the Katuic language family, an Austroasiatic sub-group of mainland Southeast Asia, is fairly well understood today (Ferlus 1971, 1974b, 1979; Huffman 1976; Diffloth 1982, Sidwell 2005, Gehrmann 2015, 2016). However, there are two topics which have received relatively little attention in the historical linguistic literature on Katuic: 1) the diachrony of the unstressed, penultimate syllable (presyllable) of Proto-Katuic and 2) the morphophonology of Proto-Katuic. This paper aims to make a contribution in both of these areas by discussing the various structural and sound changes which have affected the presyllables of modern Katuic languages and by reconstructing the morphophonological template and derivational affixes of Proto-Katuic. Changes to the modern Katuic presyllables include the development of presyllable vowel quality contrasts, reanalysis of coda nasals as main syllable onset prenasalization, simplification of geminates or their reanalysis as long consonants, metathesis of coda liquids and simple deletions of coda consonants. Three formal affix types (prefixes, rime-onset infixes and rime infixes) and four morphological processes (nominalization, reciprocation, anticausation and causation) are reconstructed for Proto-Katuic.
This study investigated 36 Saudi attitudes towards seven English accents: General American English, Southern Standard English, Scottish English, Singapore English, Indian English, Saudi English and Chinese English. The study addresses three research questions: 1)What are the attitudes of Saudi learners towards different English accents from the three circles of Kachru's World English Model (1985, 1992)? 2)Are Saudis able to identify different English accents? 3)Do Saudis prefer certain English accents? To examine these attitudes two methods were employed: verbal guise techniques (VGT), as an indirect method, and questionnaires as a direct approach. The overall findings reveal that Saudi participants have positive attitudes towards native accents, particularly General American English and Scottish English. Southern Standard English was rated low in the VGT, however, it was chosen as a second preference in the direct approach. Furthermore, Saudi participants showed positivity towards their own accent in solidarity dimensions. The findings also indicated that the Saudis were not aware of all English accents and faced considerable difficulties in recognition questions. This study suggests that further research is necessary to validate the results obtained in the current study. There would be benefits in conducting longitudinal studies to identify the direction of attitudinal shifts towards specific accents of English among the population in Saudi Arabia.
Previous work on Scots syntax tends to assume that do-support follows the English pattern (e.g. Görlach, 2002) despite the fact that Scots exhibited variability between do-support and verb-raising for much longer than English (e.g. Jonas, 2002). Do-support is still not categorical in all dialects of Modern Scots, and this variability highly correlates with a phenomenon present in Scots but not in (Standard) English: the Northern Subject Rule (NSR) (e.g. Smith, 2000). This paper builds on de Haas’s (2011) claim that the -(i)s inflection, employed in Scots NSR varieties to establish subject-verb agreement in environments where Standard English would employ do-support, is in fact a default inflection, while the ø-inflection found where plural pronouns are immediately adjacent to the finite verb is true subject-verb agreement. It will argue that do-support in Scots is more likely to be a transfer from English than an independent development. The variability in the development of Scots do-support is argued to be due to Scots retaining other means of establishing subject-verb agreement, the NSR and verb-raising. Thus, do-support was either acquired for a different function, i.e. as a negation or question marker, or the variability is due to do-support entering a three-way grammar competition to express the same function as the NSR and verb-raising.
As laid out in Gronemeyer (1999), in the history of English, the word get has followed a grammaticalization pathway that has led to it being used in a wide range of different ways. Some work has been done on the use of get in various world Englishes (Bruckmaier, 2016, 2017; Coto-Villalibre, 2014), but there has been little research investigating any variation in regional varieties of Britain. This poster presents a comparison between the use of get in a conversational subset of Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech (SCOTS) and a comparable subset of the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE). No categorical differences between these two corpora are found in terms of get-constructions found in one that are entirely absent from the other. However, there are significant differences found in the relative frequencies of certain constructions. Specifically, the English of Tyneside displays significantly higher frequencies of inchoative (get angry), motion (get home) and stative possessive constructions (I’ve got blue eyes), when compared with what is found in SCOTS. By contrast, SCOTS shows a significantly higher frequency of causative uses (get things done, get it ready, get your coat on). Furthermore, although there is a similar overall frequency of get-passive examples (get killed) in the two corpora, a difference appears in terms of what conditions its use: inanimate subjects are much more likely to be found with get-passives in SCOTS compared to DECTE.
During a conversation, tracking and understanding the reference of pronouns is crucial to fully comprehending interlocutors’ intention. As native speakers of a language, we can locate antecedents to pronouns with much ease and often immediately, that we overlook the fact that pronoun resolution is a complex cognitive process that involve not only linguistic knowledge, but also general cognitive functions such as monitoring, integration and updating. For bilingual speakers, whose two languages are both active and constantly interacting with each other (Costa & Navarrete, 2006; Hatzidaki, Branigan, & Pickering, 2011), this task could be more challenging. In the current study, we want to see how mandarin-English bilingual speakers process reflexive pronouns on-line, and whether their comprehension deviate from their monolingual peers. English and mandarin Chinese has different rules in terms of reflexive-antecedent binding, it would be interesting to see how the discrepancies influence bilinguals speakers’ pronoun resolution in real time. Results from a speeded comprehension task showed that compared to their monolingual peers, bilingual speakers took longer time to process reflexive pronouns, however their answers were more accurate. In addition to the speeded acceptability judgment task, a battery of tasks measuring working memory (see Foster et al., 2015) and cognitive control abilities (see Robertson, Ward, Ridgeway, & Nimmo-Smith, 1994) were also conducted. Some of the cognitive components are correlated with participants’ performance in the judgment tasks, either in reaction time, or in acceptability judgment, or both. We believe that general cognitive functions play a significant role during on-line processing, particularly under the effect of L1 attrition. The results will be discussed in relation to cognitive load of the tasks and individual differences in working memory capacity.
Recent work has demonstrated that neural language models encode linguistic structure implicitly in a number of ways. However, existing research has not shed light on the process by which this structure is acquired during training. We present several experiments suggesting that a single recurrent layer of a language model learns linguistic structure in phases. We find that a language model naturally learns low-level local linguistic structure first, graduating from representations focused on syntactic structure to representations which contain semantic and topic information. Further experiments shed light on this process by demonstrating that the gradients of function word are sparser than the gradients of content words, implying that specialized subnetworks are being learned in the training process.
My research topic is Native Language Identification (NLI) where researchers attempt to tell the author’s first language in an anonymous English-as-a-second-language (ESL) text from different perspectives. In previous researches, the computational methods have achieved considerable accuracy in NLI tasks. However, many of the models are generated from the descriptive statistical results and does not reveal the linguistic mechanism behind it. My research aims to fill in this gap by checking the linguistic validity of the data-based models. I choose one of the most commonly used feature, parts-of-speech (POS) features, and established logistic regression models based on 65 POS features using the International Corpus Network of Asian Learners of English. The models have achieved over 92% accuracy in identifying if the author is from certain language background. Checking the POS features in both the models and the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS), I divided the model results into three kinds: Firstly, the results that are in line the linguistic features of the author’s mother tongue, including Chinese Mandarin speakers’ use of nominalisation and Japanese speakers’ use of pronouns. Secondly, the results that are in contrast with the author’s native language structure, including Chinese Mandarin and Korean speakers’ use of possessive construction. Thirdly, the results which I have not found relevant linguistic feature in the author’s mother tongue, including the use of the word because and That Relative Clauses on Subject Position. These findings provide insights of the cross-linguistic transfer of language structures in NLI tasks.
The change of state verb stop is known to trigger a pre-state presupposition of the form ‘X used to V’. However, confronted with a question such as Did David stop dancing ballet?, listeners do not necessarily understand that David used to dance ballet. Several factors seem to converge in influencing listeners’ understanding of presuppositions in these so-called embedding environments, of which questions are an example. One of these factors was found to be at-issueness, i.e. the extent to which content is judged to be under debate. Another factor that was claimed to influence the processing of presuppositions was world knowledge in form of prior probabilities of events. Following this argumentation, listeners who find that it is unlikely that David dances ballet when processing Did David stop dancing ballet?, are claimed to less likely understand that David used to dance ballet and stopped doing so. This study investigated the influence of listeners’ prior beliefs on their processing of presuppositions, and more specifically, in what way the understanding of presuppositions triggered by stop is influenced by gender stereotypes. This reasoning is based on recent studies that found that people indeed have strong beliefs when it comes to gender stereotypes (such that they consider a ballet dancer to be a woman rather than a man) which in turn had an effect on their language processing. Whereas the influence of at-issueness could be replicated, no evidence was found that listener’s gender stereotypes affect their understanding of presuppositions. Instead, the results are in line with the hypothesis that listeners revise their prior beliefs when they are confronted with utterances that contradict their beliefs.
This case study considers Bradford speakers’ ability to imitate a Standard Southern British English (SSBE) accent across read and spontaneous speech. Voice disguise is estimated to occur in around one in forty cases in the UK (Clark and Foulkes 2007). However, there is a growing trend in the use of voice disguise by perpetrators to conceal and falsify their identities in such cases as threatening calls, kidnapping, extortion and even emergency services calls (Zhang & Tan, 2008). Forensic speaker comparison and voice profiling cases involving voice disguise are made more difficult when assessing the identity of a speaker. Voice disguise is often achieved through electronic means (Rodman, 2000; 2003) or accent imitation (Neuhauser, 2008). For this reason, this paper examines speakers’ ability to imitate an accent that requires them to split two phonemic mergers that are merged in their native Bradford accent (STRUT/FOOT and TRAP/BATH). The results suggest that Bradford speakers could not successfully produce, STRUT, FOOT, BATH and TRAP realisations similar to those of SSBE speakers, as they were not able to confidently split the STRUT/FOOT or TRAP/BATH mergers. The results also found that the most prominent feature susceptible to different speech styles when imitating an accent was vowel height, as participants could not maintain their altered vowel heights of the four lexical sets consistently. As a result, sociophonetic splits and mergers have the potential to be a reliable tool in analysing imitated accents, and aid in forensic speaker comparison or profiling cases.
This project investigated how the grammar of the polysynthetic language West Greenlandic is affected in speakers with non-fluent aphasia due to stroke. We focused on West Greenlandic because of its radically different structure to more commonly researched languages such as English, including uniquely complex derivational and inflectional morphology. We interviewed five participants with aphasia and compared their speech on several parameters with that of matched non-brain-damaged control participants. These parameters included standard production measures, measures of morphological complexity, and measures of syntactic complexity. Our findings indicated that non-fluent aphasia in West Greenlandic is not expressed through an impairment on the morphology; instead, participants with aphasia produced speech at a slower rate with shorter utterances, and some of them displayed significant impairments on measures of syntax. While somewhat surprising from the point of view of research on aphasia in English, our findings align well with findings from other languages with complex morphology such as Finnish, Turkish, and Japanese. Our findings highlight the need for a diverse range of crosslinguistic studies to inform linguistic theories.
The general principles of perceptual-motor processing and memory (in particular, rapid loss of sensory information and limited working memory capacity) impose limitations known as the Now-or-Never (NoN) bottleneck (Christiansen & Chater, 2016) on the organization of the language processing system. I argue that the emerging Predictive Processing (PP) framework (Clark, 2015; Hohwy, 2013) is well-suited for the task of providing a comprehensive account of language processing under the NoN constraint. Moreover, the PP framework presents a stronger alternative to the Chunk-and-Pass account proposed by Christiansen and Chater (2016) – it better accommodates the available evidence concerning the role of context (both in the narrow and wider senses) in language comprehension at various levels of linguistic representation.
The mojo of Inuktitut and Nunatsiavummiutut (two Eastern Eskimo-Aleut languages), the history of the Inuit of Canada’s Far North and Labrador, and the Government of Canada, are inextricably linked. Inuktitut and Nunatsiavummiutut— the most spoken dialect of Inuttut—both have their own distinct, yet similar mojos. Linguistic mojo, as defined by John Joseph (2017), consists of identity, supra-material, heritage, getting-on, and resistance mojos; effectively, the appeal a language has to its speakers. This paper investigates the vitality and mojo of Inuktitut and Nunatsiavummiutut in two of the four Inuit Nunangat regions in Canada, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut in the Torngat Mountains of Labrador. Vitality and mojo of the two languages are analysed using Joseph (2017)’s Linguist Mojo framework and UNESCO’s Language Vitality Assessment, buttressed with government policy, education and curricula, and the history of the two languages with emphasis on European colonialism and acts of resistance against British, Newfoundlander, and Canadian imperialism that lead to the formation of Nunavut and Nunatsiavut. Beginning with the European colonialisation (primarily by the British and French) the Inuit of Canada have experienced a troubled past, marked with events such as the High Arctic Relocation during the Cold War and the residential schooling system that systematically sought to destroy Indigenous Canadian language and culture through the integration and so-called ‘civilising’ of Indigenous Canadians into white Euro-Canadian cultures (be it French or English Canadian) (Ryerson, 1847). The High Arctic Relocation and the Residential School Systems were both detrimental to the transmission of Indigenous languages between generations, which is essential for the vitality, maintenance, and expansion of languages (UNESCO, 2003; Moseley, 2010). Both Inuktitut and Nunatsiavummiutut have reclaimed significant amounts of mojo, with strong points in resistance, heritage, and identity mojo. Both have strong government support (Government of Nunavut, 2008; Torngâsok Cultural Centre, 2012), as expansion of day-to-day usage. This seems to contradict the heritage and getting-on mojos; however, the languages’ ability to do so provides a unique way for the languages and cultures to continue to expand and establish themselves as major languages within the Canadian culturo-linguistic quilt and cement the reclamation and position the Inuit Nation has within the broader notion of Canadian Multiculturalism. The revitalisation and reclamation of Indigenous languages is thus an essential portion of the effort activists in Canada are undergoing as an effort to decolonialise Canada in the present age of reconciliation (Palmater, 2015). Using language is a means of reclaiming heritage, resisting colonialism, and a core part of Indigenous identities. In Nunavut, the process is well underway, with Inuktitut being used as the medium to preserve and promote Inuit culture and Inuit nationhood. Second-language learners of Inuktitut are a large portion of its speakers (Nunavut Bureau of Statistics, 2006; Statistics Canada, 2012), illustrating that the language is receiving more attention and continues to grow its mojo. This process is in progress in Nunatsiavut, but to a lesser degree.
For a country that is as quick to assert its standing and status as an independent, Arab state, Lebanon certainly has an interesting linguistic landscape. People speak any combination of Arabic, French, English, German, Armenian, Kurdish, and Assyrian (Shaaban & Ghaith, 1999), learn in French or English, and code-switch between languages (Bacha, 2011). This causes many, even in scholarly circles, to believe (and often, spread) the notion that “all Lebanese are multilingual” (Shaaban & Ghaith, 1999; Esseili, 2011). As it stands today, the Lebanese learn and speak Lebanese, English and/or French, often with one or more other languages. They all additionally learn to read and write Modern Standard Arabic. The educational system reinforces this trilingual façon d’être and there seems to be little confusion as to the separation between MSA and Lebanese at least in the minds of the educated (who call both Arabic). The flexibility of the system is on the whole well taken advantage of, such that many will start learning in one language and continue their education in another, although considerably more people go from French schools to English universities than otherwise. This study analyses the situation of Lebanese language through an historical overview of language policies in Lebanon over the past century and a survey distributed to 191 students (184 usable responses). They were asked their opinions of Lebanese, French, (Modern Standard) Arabic, and English, and to fill out basic biographical information, including gender, language of secondary education, and language of postsecondary education. The results, among other things, show that Lebanese speakers associate Arabic and Lebanese with ‘beauty and appeal,’ English and Lebanese with ‘identity, international relations and politics,’ French, English then Arabic (in that order) with ‘education,’ and Arabic with ‘culture and arts.’ English also scored moderately well in all categories, but wasn’t associated the most with any category. The poster will showcase statistical information obtained by way of a survey. The information shown, for instance, could include the connotations associated with each language, themes most frequently associated with each language, and education language shifts between school medium language and university medium language.
The role of alignment between interlocutors in second language learning is different to that in fluent conversational dialogue. Learners gain linguistic skill through increased alignment, yet the extent to which they can align will be constrained by their ability. Tutors may use alignment to teach and encourage the student, yet still must push the student and correct their errors, decreasing alignment. To understand how learner ability interacts with alignment, we measure the influence of ability on lexical priming, an indicator of alignment. We find that lexical priming in learner-tutor dialogues differs from that in conversational and task-based dialogues, and we find evidence that alignment increases with ability and with word complexity.
In discourse, processing ambiguous pronouns is often instantaneous for adult native speakers. Recently, studies have found effects of verbal aspect, specifically whether events are completed or ongoing (perfective vs imperfective), on pronoun disambiguation strategies (Rohde, Kehler & Elman, 2006). While these effects are seen in various languages (e.g. English (Rohde et al., 2006), Japanese (Ueno & Kehler, 2010; 2016) and Korean (Kim, Grüter & Schafer, 2013)), evidence from second language (L2) research indicates that L2 speakers have diverging preferences (Grüter, Rohde & Schafer, 2017). They posited that this was due to L2 speakers’ inability to generate expectations of the discourse within their mental models, and proposed the Reduced Ability to Generate Expectations (RAGE) hypothesis. Their results, however, are possibly explained by their participants’ proficiency levels or differences between aspectual systems. The study presented here tests predictions of the RAGE hypothesis and the two alternative mechanisms that might underlie the prior results. To test effects of proficiency, and possible effects from speakers’ L1 aspectual system, the current study recruited L1 English and high proficiency L2 English (L1 Japanese or Spanish) speakers, as well as L1 Spanish speakers (from Spain) to establish the effect of event-structure in Spanish. Participants were tested using a Story Continuation (SC) task, in either English or Spanish, which prompted them with trials including a transfer-of-possession verb (e.g. give or dar in Spanish), where aspect was manipulated, and were asked to write continuations beginning with either He or She (Il or Ella in Spanish). The results found that, unlike Grüter et al. (2017), L2 participants had effects of aspect on coreference preferences. Additionally, L1 speakers of Spanish were found to only be marginally affected by aspect regardless of condition. The current findings support that increased language proficiency helps L2 parsers create native-like expectations when processing ambiguous pronouns.
Swingley and Aslin (2007) found that toddlers have difficulty learning novel nouns which are phonologically similar to familiar nouns (neighbours). Extending this finding, Dautriche, Swingley and Christophe (2015) found a further dissociation between different types of neighbours – toddlers easily learn verb-neighbours (e.g. ‘kive’, similar to ‘give’) but not noun-neighbours (e.g. ‘tog’, similar to ‘dog’). This led them to propose a competition hypothesis, where strong semantic and/or syntactic similarity between novel concepts and competitors generates competition effects that interfere with word learning. In contrast to noun-neighbours which give rise to strong competition effects when learning novel names for objects, verb-neighbours are proposed to induce relatively weak competition due to contextual distance. The current study aims to investigate this competition hypothesis using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), by studying whether noun-neighbours activate brain regions associated with semantic competition more strongly than verb-neighbours and no-neighbours.
Online safety regularly depends on users’ ability to know either where a URL is likely to lead or identify when they are on a site other than they expect. Unfortunately, the combination of low URL reading ability in the general population and the use of hard-to-detect approaches like look-alike letters makes the reading of URLs quite challenging for people. We design a Slack chatbot, named Faheem, which assists users in identifying potentially fraudulent URLs while also teaching them about URL reading and common malicious tactics. In this work, we describe the design of the chatbot and provide an initial evaluation. We find that Faheem does a good job of interactively helping users identify issues with URLs, but Faheem users show minimal retention of knowledge when they lose access to the tool.
An important question in the field of corpus-based evolutionary language dynamics research is concerned with distinguishing selection-driven linguistic change from neutral evolution, and from changes stemming from language-external factors (cultural drift). A commonly used proxy for the popularity or selective fitness of an element is its corpus frequency. However, severalrecent works have pointed out that raw frequencies can often be misleading. We propose a model for controlling for drift in contextual topics in corpora -the topical-cultural advection model -and demonstrate that thissimple measure, in both its implementations using methods from distributional semantics and topic modelling,is capable of accounting for a considerable amount of variability in word frequency changes in a corpus spanning two centuries of language use.
Task order of administration has been considered in most of studies involved more than two sub-tasks; researchers always use a counter-balanced way to avoid test order effect. Previously, order effects were mostly documented in neuropsychological assessment, few researches conducted to explore the order effect on cognitive functions in bilingualism field. This study aims at examining the effect of test order on visual and auditory attentional conflict and response competing in six groups of native English monolinguals. We hypothesize that task order administration can provide a temporal practice / training from previous task on monolinguals, and this training effect is transferrable, which leads a better performance on cognitive functions (inhibition, selective attention and alerting) in later tasks, which share similar measurements of cognitive functions.To explore this issue, we compared the performance of monolinguals in three widely and reliably used tasks: the attentional network task (ANT), the Stroop Task, and the test of everyday attention (TEA). After counterbalance the task administration order, six test-order groups are included: ANT-TEA-Stroop; TEA-ANT-Stroop; Stroop-TEA-ANT; Stroop-ANT-TEA; ANT-Stroop-TEA, and TEA-Stroop-ANT. The results suggest that changing the task order has a significant influence on individuals’ altering attention, selective attention and inhibition ability. Specifically, participants benefitedfrom the presence of an alerting cue more when received test order A-T-S than T-A-S. Besides, higher accuracy was found in Elevator Distraction (inhibition ability and selective attention) when TEA was administered after ANT.Additionally, this order effect is restricted to task type, with no order effects observed in Stroop task.
This study investigated whether third person singular (3SG -s) and past tense accuracy and error types reveal distinctive developmental patterns of agreement and tense acquisition in different age and language impairment groups of Welsh L1 children with English as a second language (L2). A group of Welsh-English bilingual typically developing (L2-TD) older (6;7-9;0-year-old) and younger (4;6-6;4-year-old) children and a group of young (4;6-6;2-year- old) children with SLI age-matched to the younger L2-TD group were administered the screening component of the Test of Early Grammatical Impairment (Rice & Wexler, 2001). The results indicated that the three groups differed in their production of 3SG -s and regular past tense. However, there were no differences in terms of accuracy with the irregular past tense verbs. The L2-SLI children produced similar error types to the younger L2-TD children, who differed from their older L2-TD peers. At the same time, vocabulary size and morphophonology contributed to children’s performance. We discuss these results within current accounts of language development and impairment.
L2 speakers of English from different L1 backgrounds have been widely observed to exhibit inconsistent production of L2 morphological inflections (Lardiere, 1998, 2000; Hawkins & Liszka, 2003). The current set of experiments focuses on L1 Mandarin speakers of English, whose native language is tense-free and does not use a morphological system to indicate temporal properties of events. Through 2 spoken production studies and 1 written production study, we investigated the mechanisms which underlie such inconsistent production from a psycholinguistic perspective. The experiments comprised of online picture description tasks which required participants to respond under time constraints, and offline language proficiency assessments. Our findings reject the hypotheses that L2 speakers do not represent L2 specific linguistic features and that inconsistent morphological production is solely an articulatory problem (Hawkins & Chan, 1997; Goad, White & Steele, 2003). The findings also indicate problematic morphological encoding in L2 speakers.
Words can be represented by composing the representations of subword units such as word segments, characters, and/or character n-grams. While such representations are effective and may capture the morphological regularities of words, they have not been systematically compared, and it is not understood how they interact with different morphological typologies. On a language modeling task, we present experiments that systematically vary (1) the basic unit of representation, (2) the composition of these representations, and (3) the morphological typology of the language modeled. Our results extend previous findings that character representations are effective across typologies, and we find that a previously unstudied combination of character trigram representations composed with bi-LSTMs outperforms most others. But we also find room for improvement: none of the character-level models match the predictive accuracy of a model with access to true morphological analyses, even when learned from an order of magnitude more data.
Gradable adjectives like tall can be used in two ways: measure (e.g. John is 180cm tall) and bare (e.g. John is tall). In bare uses the adjective says that the subject falls within a certain interval in the adjective’s scale, which we call the adjective's bare interval. We show that bare intervals are monotonic according to the standard semantics (Kennedy and McNally 2005), i.e. there is a degree d such that the bare interval includes exactly the degrees greater or the degrees lesser than d. We present three computational models to explain the evolution of monotonicity. The first model uses the Iterated Learning paradigm (Kirby, Griffiths, and Smith 2014) to study how bare intervals evolve under a pressure for learnability alone in a population of literal agents. We show that while bare intervals become monotonic, they also degenerate, i.e. end up covering either nothing or the whole degree’s scale. This is unlike bare intervals of natural languages. The second model studies the effects of adding a pressure for communicative accuracy. Bare intervals stop being degenerate and become non-monotonic, which is still different from natural language adjectives. Finally, in the third model we implement more sophisticated, pragmatic agents using the Rational Speech Act modelling paradigm (Goodman and Frank 2016). This allows agents to calculate scalar implicatures. Languages in the third model finally evolve non-degenerate monotonic meanings resembling bare intervals of real languages.
Previous and current research on the positive effects of bilingualism on Third Language Acquisition (TLA) relate the advantages evident in bilingual learners to the influence of bilingualism on cognitive development and, specifically, to metalinguistic awareness (MLA) and communicative skills (Cenoz, 2003; Cenoz & Genesee, 1998; Cummins, 1978; Jaensch, 2009; Jessner, 1999; Jessner, 2006; Thomas 1988). Although it is has been widely acknowledged that MLA is strongly affected by literacy and grammar related activities, only a few studies have attended to the context and method of acquisition of the bilingual learners’ L2 (Cenoz, 2013; Sanz, 2000). The current work aims at investigating the bilingualism specific variables affecting the process and outcomes of TLA, with a particular focus on the relationship between the context and method of acquisition of bilinguals’ L2 (i.e. instructed/uninstructed; formal/informal) and the degree of metalinguistic awareness developed. It is worth exploring how the level of explicit and implicit metalinguistic awareness of “primary”and “secondary” bilinguals (Hoffman, 1991) correlates with a higher level of proficiency attained in a third (or additional) language. In other words, is it the level of bilingualism or the level of linguistic knowledge in the L2 that plays a fundamental role to succeed in TLA? (Bialystok & Barac, 2012).
Code-switching—alternation between L1 and L2—is a common learning strategy in EFL classrooms (Bista, 2010; Levine, 2003; Weng, 2012). The reasons for code-switching in this context vary, depending on educational goals (Moghadam, Abdul Samad, & Shahraki, 2012; Yavuz, 2012). Through sociolinguistic analysis, this study observes the use of educational code-switching to L1 (Arabic) at Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia and analyzes its linguistic, social, and class management purposes. Previous studies have suggested that educational code-switching to the L1 in EFL classrooms is an unconscious act (Moghadam, Abdul Samad, & Shahraki, 2012) and that when it occurs it is used extensively (Abdel Magid & Mugaddam, 2013; Afzal, 2013). Reasons for code-switching found in studies include linguistic purposes, such as explaining grammatical terminology; social purposes, such as engaging in small talk with students; and general classroom management, such as delivering exam instructions (Al-Nofaie, 2010). After consulting previous research, these three purposes were constructed using an a priori approach (Creswell, 2003) to analyze educational code-switching to Arabic among teachers in EFL classrooms. The instrument includes a demographic questionnaire, audio recorder, and observation sheet, which divides the categories into subcategories representing situations where code-switching is used. I observed and recorded six Saudi teachers during EFL classes. The recorder and observation sheet were used to gather quotes illustrating purposes behind educational code-switching and whether those purposes fit the categories outlined in the observation sheet. The a priori coding helped identify and categorize the most common purposes. The results show that educational code-switching is an intentional practice among teachers in EFL classrooms and provide a deeper understanding of educational code-switching to the L1. They agree with previous studies that found code-switching common among EFL teachers. Although participants display different linguistic, social, and class management purposes, data analysis reveals that some purposes are more common than others.
It was in the year 1994 when the term CLIL was coined by Marsh and Maljers. Understood as an umbrella term to refer to educational programmes focused on the teaching and learning of academic content throughout a non-L1 language, CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) has become the norm all over European schools mostly encouraged by the multilingual vision of Europe promoted by the European Commission in the last decades. However, the language of instruction is not the only one used in these classes; the L1 is sometimes present in CLIL. Despite previous misconceptions on whether using the L1 in foreign language lessons would be counterproductive, research has proved that CLIL may benefit from a certain coexistence of both languages (Méndez García & Pavón Vázquez, 2012). Contrary to the idea of L1 usage due to poor language proficiency, the appearance of both languages in students’and CLIL teachers’ speech may point to a deeper understanding of both languages. Therefore, the aim of this presentation is to analyse the code-switching speech of two groups of 2nd ESO Spanish students belonging to the CLIL section and their Physics teacher. In order to do so, the methodology used is based on conversational analysis theories as well as qualitative analysis of the data through classroom observation.
The current study aims to investigate L1 syntactic attrition effects among Chinese (mandarin)- English late bilinguals, with different patterns of language use and lengths of residence during online processing. Previous research has rarely shown direct correlations between language use and the degree of L1 attrition (Schmid & Dusseldorp, 2010); however, the Chamorro study (2015) has found significant in-group differences after L1 attriters were re-exposed to the L1 environment intensively for only a short period of time, indicating that the degree of attrition is sensitive to the language use. And it’s more likely that the effects of attrition do not involve the representation of knowledge, but rather the efficiency of accessing and integrating the knowledge, as suggested by the Interface Hypothesis (Sorace, 2011). It is the processing deficit rather than the erosion of the knowledge that we are looking at in the current study. Two groups (N= 40*2) of Chinese-English bilinguals were recruited, and they have been living in the U.K. for either less than 8 months, or more than 5 years. Apart from the differences in the length of residence (LoR), their L2 English proficiency were kept at a comparable level, as well as their socio-economic status. The type and amount of L1 and L2 use, were carefully recorded through a sociolinguistic questionnaire, adapted from Schmid and Dusseldorp (2010). I expect that participants with less or infrequent L1 use (especially L1 use in the intermediate mode, see Schmid & Dusseldorp, 2010) and longer LoR will display more attrition effects than those with more or frequent L1 use and shorter LoR. Participants were asked to complete two on-line linguistic tasks, three cognitive tasks, including two shortened complex span tasks (see Foster et al., 2015) and the elevator task (Robertson, Ward, Ridgeway, & Nimmo-Smith, 1994), and one sociolinguistic questionnaire in the experiment. The linguistic structures under investigation are“interface structures”: reflexive ziji ‘self’ and wh-topicalization. Both the pronoun interpretation and the topicalization require accessing and integrating the discourse information, the syntax knowledge in real time, thus putting them at the interface of syntax and discourse. It’s been predicted by the Interface Hypothesis (Sorace, 2011) that, compared to structures within core grammars, structures at the syntax-discourse or syntax-pragmatics interface are less robust against language attrition, because integrating information from different cognitive domains imposes extra cognitive loads. Since there is no direct way to measure the cognitive loads for processing the linguistic structures, the cognitive tasks were employed as an indirect measurement. I expect that not only will attrition effects be found on these structures, the scores of the three cognitive tasks will also positively correlate with the scores of the linguistic tasks.
Normalisation of orthography is an important pre-processing step when applying NLP techniques to historical documents. Though semi-supervised software tools exist to assist with this, they still require both significant labour in order to achieve reasonable accuracy and the use of pre-existing normalisation dictionaries. This poster presents three supervised approaches to document normalisation and reports state-of-the-art performance using an encoder-decoder model with a hard attention mechanism.
I present preliminary results from my PhD project, the aims of which are to: first, formulate a unified analysis of how Russian deploys (1) intonation, (2) discourse particles like že, ved’, and -to, (3) sentence type, and (4) ‘free’ word order, to express the categories of Information Structure; and second, in the process on the one hand to synthesise and verify the disparate data in the literature on the topic(s), and on the other analyse what consequences the whole picture has for what sort of general linguistic framework we might want to entertain. In the poster I would sketch my present model of how the formal devices (1-4) interface, i.e. through the contextual interaction of their compositional, epistemic-logical contributions to the discourse structure. I cite data on the use of the Russian discourse particle že – with reference to the contrast in its acceptability in neutral Yes-No and Wh-questions noted by Zybatow (1990) – which, combined with initial intuitions about the other three ‘variables’ in the ‘equation’, lend some initial support to my framework and point the way forward to its elaboration.
The close relation between discourse and syntax in Old English has been a favourite topic for research over the last few years. However, most of the existent work on the interplay between information structure and syntax in Old English focuses on main sentences, and the instances in which subordinate sentences are studied, it is in relation to the discourse-related particles þa and þonne. In previous work (López Martínez 2016), I provided data supporting the claim that embedded topicalization is possible in Old English subordinate sentences, and it was suggested that this phenomenon could be related to discourse factors. I now analyse the main current syntactic theories on V2 word order in Old English, in an attempt to provide a valid syntactic analysis for the examples of potential embedded topicalization that have been found. Furthermore, I study how discourse factors may influence topicalization in subordinate clauses. In order to do so, a large corpus of prose texts from the OE period has been analysed, examining not only the instances of embedded topicalization in subordinate sentences, but also how discourse affects those topicalized elements. The present study pays attention to whether those elements are given or new information, analysing the discourse preceding the relevant subordinate clauses in relation to the current theories on Information Structure.
The current study investigated the relationship between executive function and referential choice in Japanese-English bilingual children. Choosing an appropriate reference requires the speaker to take the listener’s perspective into account--a process that is hypothesised to involve cognitive load. Our aim was to determine whether executive function is a contributing factor to variance in referential choice for bilingual children in both their first language and second language. Thirty-eight Japanese-English sequential bilingual returnee children (mean age 9:8) participated in the study. Participants listened to short stories in Japanese and in English, involving either a referent switch or a non-switch, and were then asked to interpret the reference of an ambiguous pronoun. They were also tested on a battery of executive function tests (Simon, Advanced DCCS, and N-back). Bilingual Language Experience Calculator (BiLEC) was administered to the parents in order to quantify their language input. First, the results show that there was a main effect for story type and English proficiency, highlighting that (1) referent switch stories had lower accuracy than non-switch and (2) advanced group had significantly higher accuracy than basic group in both language tasks. Second, there was a main effect of DCCS switch cost (calculated by subtracting mean accurate response times of non-switch trials from switch trials). In other words, participants who had higher DCCS switch cost had lower accuracy in the comprehension task. Third, there was a significant interaction between language and story type, with the difference of accuracy between the switch and non-switch stories to be larger for English than in Japanese. The findings give support for the relationship between executive function and choice of referents. In specific, the switch cost in the Advanced DCCS task - a method designed to measure mental set switching - had relationship with a language task that also requires referent switching. In addition, the results show that switching referent in the less dominant language (i.e., English) requires more cognitive resources than in the dominant language (i.e., Japanese).
This working paper provides a brief description of the phonological system of Daqing Nuosu Yi, a Nuosu Yi variety spoken in Daqing Township, Xichang, China. It is classified as belonging to the Sondi dialect of Nuosu Yi. The canonical syllabic structure of Daqing Nuosu Yi can be represented as (C)V. It has a relatively large consonantal inventory with 41 distinctive consonants. Except nasals and /h/, all the other consonants contrast in voicing. Furthermore, voiceless plosives and affricates contrast in aspiration while voiced ones in prenasalization. Basically, Daqing Nuosu Yi has 5 vowel phonemes: /ɹ̩/, /u/, /ɪ/, /o/, /ɯ/. Its vowel system shows complex interactions with consonants, resulting in the fricativized or apical vowel /ɹ̩/ and some fricativized realizations of the phoneme /u/. The ‘tense’ and ‘lax’ vocal register contrast, which defined by a constricted or open epilaryngeal tube, is a hallmark of Daqing Nuosu Yi. The laryngeal register as a suprasegmental affects both consonants and vowels. It can change the aerodynamics of consonantal production, leading to the implosive or approximant allophones of obstruents. Moreover, it alters vowel quality significantly, resulting in 5 pairs of ‘lax’ and ‘tense’ vowels: /ɹ̩/, /ɹ̩/; /u/, /u/; /ɪ/, /ɪ/[ɛ]; /o/, /o/[ɔ]; /ɯ/, /ɯ/[a], with the tense ones more open in the vowel space. There is vocal register harmony (or ATR vowel harmony) within constituents, e.g., /vɪ⁵⁵/ pig + /ʣa³³/ food > /vɛ⁵⁵ ʣa³³/ pig feeds. Daqing Nuosu Yi also have lexical tones: 21, 33, (44), 55, with vocal register interactions. The 44 tone sandhi appears to be prosodically or syntactically driven. We await future articulatory studies and perceptual studies to unveil a clearer picture of the complex interactions between vowels and consonants, segments and vocal registers, tones and vocal registers.
Comprehension of syntactic dependencies has been found to differ in monolingual and bilingual language acquirers. This difference has triggered controversy about the nature of developmental processing pathways in the two populations. Recent offline studies on the acquisition of syntactic dependencies revealed persistent difficulties with the comprehension of wh-questions in children. The presence and position of case-marking cues has been proposed to facilitate the felicitous resolution of ambiguous wh-questions in monolingual children (German: Roesch & Chondrogianni, 2015; Greek: Sauerland et al., 2016). To date, only one offline study has investigated how bilingual children comprehend wh-questions when mediated by the number and position of case-marking cues (Roesch & Chondrogianni, 2016). In terms of online processing studies, only one time course study examined the processing of wh-questions in L1-Korean monolingual children (Choi & Trueswell, 2010). They found that the presence and position of case-marking cues guide children to resolve ambiguous clausal structure. Putting the bits and pieces together, offline research provided us with patterns; yet, it does not show the processes that underlie incremental parsing. We use a real-time visual-world eye tracking task to investigate Greek referential which-questions. Participants (n=10) (m = 20 years) looked at picture animal triplets while listening to the target question (object: Which squirrel does the rabbit cover in the evening?). They were instructed to click on the target animal referent that responses the question. Offline behavioural data (percentages of proportion of looks to the target referent) showed that acquirers tended to look more at the neuter ambiguous which-phrase that denotes patient semantic role. The results indicate that acquirers were more likely to not felicitously resolve the ambiguity when morphosyntactic cues arrived late in the sentence.
English temporal morphology is used to express tense (temporal location of events in relation to the time of speech). Mandarin does not have such a temporal system expressed through inflectional morphology (Smith, 1991). Specifically, Mandarin expresses temporality via aspect (internal temporal constituency of events) alone. The absence of L1 temporal morphology prompts the question: What is the state of acquisition for L2 speakers without such a system in their L1? We investigate L2 production data among adult native Mandarin speakers of English. Since Mandarin does not use a morphological system to overtly mark tense, this population is, according to previous research, particularly prone to L2 morphological variability in production (Lardiere, 1998; Hawkins & Liszka, 2003). The key aim of this study is to observe patterns of L2 morphological errors in production (both omissions and incorrect use of morphological markers) in native Mandarin speakers under distinct temporal contexts. We will examine this data against current theories of L2 morphological omission (Hawkins & Chan, 1997; Prevost & White, 2000; Chondrogianni & Marinis, 2012). We aim to discover also, whether temporal context could act as a predictor on the accuracy of L2 morphological production amongst this population. More specifically, could temporal context affect different types of L2 morphology differently?
Did any political party manage to generate either greater salience or recall of their tweets during the last electoral campaigns in Spain? Which variables have statistically significant relationship with the salience of tweets? We propose a quantitative approach to the political discourse at the online social network Twitter. The main objective of this research is to determine some of the factors that may be influencing the perception of political language on this network. Our research reveals significant influence of the variables context (P = 0.0081) and discourse-level topic (P <0.0001) on the perceptual salience of the tweets. Furthermore, we found that the perceptual salience (P = 0.0186) has a significant influence on the recall (LTM) of the tweets, although some inversions were observed in extremely salient scenarios.
Work on the role of executive functions (EF) in regulating communicative perspective taking has primarily focused on inhibitory control in younger adults, the results of which are mixed. Less consideration has been given to comparing inhibition with attentional switching capacities in mediating perspective taking across the lifespan, where cognitive differences may be especially relevant. In a referential communication task varying the presence of a visual competitor in common versus privileged ground, we find Age X Perspective X EF interactions for both inhibition and switching. Younger adults’ perspective-taking was influenced more by inhibition, and older adults’ perspective-taking more by switching.
Pragmatic difficulties experienced by people on the autistic spectrum can provoke difficulties in their social integration and life enjoyment. Their associated impairment in making inference from social and linguistic context makes non literal language processing challenging for them. There are no technological interventions that address idiom comprehension for this population. In order to fill this gap, we designed an educational video game to assist children with Asperger syndrome through a combined social stories and scaffolding strategy. The system was developed based on Participatory Design and User Centred approaches, involving the target population, typically developing children and experts. The results indicate the potential of an educational game to teach a strategy for idiom comprehension using contextual information.
Substantial psycholinguistic evidence has demonstrated that, animacy, as a striking semantic feature reflecting conceptual accessibility, could exert an effect on how speakers construct their utterance (e.g. Gennari, Mirkovic, & MacDonald 2012). Besides, similarity between the to-be-described elements could also constrain language production (e.g. Meyer 1996; Smith and Wheeldon 1999). However, limited studies examined the accessibility and/or the similarity effect in Mandarin. Hsiao, Gao & MacDonald (2014) is one of the very few studies which addressed this research question. Their results suggested that more subject omissions occurred when the to-be-described entities were semantically similar than the dissimilar condition. However, these findings were questionable because first, the materials design was biased (specifically, inconsistent introductory pictures before the target picture). Second, the nature of producing missing argument remains unclear — only patient’s animacy, but not agent’s animacy was manipulated. Also, some confounding factors were not controlled well. Our on-going study is designated to replicate and enlarge Hsiao et al., (2014). More conditions with a larger set of carefully controlled materials will be included. Specifically, both agent’s animacy and patient’s animacy are manipulated, and Patient is made more salient in the contextual stories. Plausibility of the actions, similarity and associativity between the entities are all controlled. It is predicted that if there is a saliency effect, more passive (SOV) and ba-structures (SOV) will occur than the canonical SVO structure because in those structures, patient appears at the beginning of the sentence as subject. Besides, if there is an interaction between animacy and saliency, then the saliency effect will be enhanced when the patient is also animate. Different patterns will also be shown regarding whether subject omission is due to similarity between the entities or animacy.
In the study of Richard J. et. al. (2007), the VOT differs between males and females in the English speaking environment. In English, there is a phenomenon that females produce longer VOTs than males for voiceless consonants (Koenig, 2000; Swartz, 1992; Robb, Gilbert, & Lerman, 2005; Wadnerker et al., 2006; Whiteside, et al., 2004; Whiteside & Irving, 1997; Whiteside & Marshall, 2001). Besides, in the study of Kang (2013), they found out that distinction exists among phrases (in the speech of male and female) and it is affected by the intonation. Therefore, we would like to assume that as an important independence, intonation would also affect the length of VOT. Thus, a hypothesis that in Mandarin Chinese, the difference will appear between men and women in voice feature is made. 15 men and 15 women aged from 18 to 30 years old participated in the experiment. In CV structure of Mandarin Chinese, the combination of stop consonants (/p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, and /g/) followed by the vowels /a/ and /u/ are all legal, but when applying to other vowels, some of the combinations are phonetically illegal. Therefore, words beginning with lingual stop consonants followed by the vowels /a/ and /u/ are selected to form the word list. Besides, all the combinations will be provided with four intonations. As we expected, result shows that female has longer VOT than male in both aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops because female’s vocal fold is relatively stiffer than male’s.
How linguistic variation is limited is one of the basic questions of syntactic theory. The prevalent paradigms concerning the amplitude of possibility were delineated in the 20th century when Chomsky challenged the structuralist view that "languages can differ from each other without limit and in unpredictable ways", as articulated by Joos. According to Chomsky, if the infinite logical space of grammars was in no way constrained, language learning could not take place. Chomsky's solution was that a genetically encoded Universal Grammar must set the bounds for variation in human languages. This research re-examines the question of linguistic variation by making a 2-dimensional map of the space of grammars using a mathematical approach. Such a model reveals clear-cut edges that restrict the space of possibilities. This suggests that, while the structuralist view is logically untenable, Chomsky's idea is at odds with Occam's razor since logical constraints already give a sufficient account of the bounds of variation.
There is well documented, cross-linguistic evidence that /s/ variation can index sexual orientation and non-normative masculinity in both production and perception. The present study expands on previous research on monolingual speech perception with a cross-linguistic Matched-Guise study. We examine the extent to which English listeners associate /s/ variation with sexual orientation and gender typicality in languages that listeners may have little to no knowledge of. Raters heard speech in English, French, German, and Estonian, all manipulated by three /s/ levels and three pitch levels. Our findings show that English listeners rate higher pitch and more fronted /s/ with gayness and femininity not only in English but also in the languages which they have limited or no knowledge of. These findings raise the question of how indexical meaning is associated with grammatical knowledge.
The topic phenomenon in Archaic Chinese and Old English, based on Li & Thompson’s (1976) paper, the former being a typical topic-prominent (Tp) language while the latter being a subject-prominent (Sp) language with topic-prominent features, is analyzed with data found in Ælfric’s Lives of Saints (996-997AD) and The Records of the Grand Historian (around 104BC and also known as Shiji) in the project. Archaic Chinese has a larger proportion of using topic than Old English in the sentence. Making a comparison between these two languages and find the similarities between them is a breakthrough. Also, a new definition of topic is given in the dissertation, which mostly absorbs the advantages of the existing research of the related area.
Romance languages show a substantial degree of variation in prenominal versus postnominal adjective placement. In particular, the semantic differences between prenominal and postnominal adjectives has been studied extensively, both in theoretical and computational linguistics (Cinque, 1994; Bouchard, 1998; Alexiadou, 2001; Laenzlinger, 2005; Boleda, 2007; Vecchi, 2013). This previous work has focused on the relative order of a single noun and one or several adjectival modifiers. By contrast, in this work we investigate the distribution of adjectives in complex noun phrases which include additional postnominal modifers such as a prepositional phrase (PP). In such noun phrases, in principle, three word orders are possible, as illustrated by the following examples in Italian: (1) Adj N PP:  [ un importanteA compitoN [PP di matematica] ] 
(2) N Adj PP:  [ un compitoN importanteA [P P di matematica] ] 
 (3) N PP Adj:  [ un compitoN [P P di matematica] importanteA ] 'an importantA math homeworkN ' First, we quantitatively describe the distribution of these orders in Italian, based on the data extracted from a syntactically-annotated corpus. The statistical analysis of these new data reveals that the prenominal adjective position is more frequent in complex noun phrases than in simple noun phrases. We investigate this phenomenon more in depth for the case of Italian noun phrases with PP complements introduced by the preposition ‘di’. To this end, we collect a large number of cases of adjective variation from the Wikipedia corpus of Italian. Our initial findings suggest that the preference for prenominal adjective position is induced by the lexico-statistical properties of the N-PP phrases.
Existing corpora for intrinsic evaluation are not targeted towards tasks in informal domains such as Twitter or news comment forums. We want to test whether a representation of informal words fulfills the promise of eliding explicit text normalization as a preprocessing step. One possible evaluation metric for such domains is the proximity of spelling variants. We propose how such a metric might be computed and how a spelling variant dataset can be collected using UrbanDictionary.
Social class has traditionally been a major topic of interest in the fields of sociolinguistics and dialectology, in which socioeconomic status is regarded as a major source of language variation and change. However, studies of class mobility in variationist sociolinguistics are relatively sparse, the focus remaining largely on contrasts between static social class groups. The present study explores the relationship between class mobility and sociophonetic variation with an auditory analysis of two phonetic variables that are reported to be socially stratified in the context of urban speech in Scotland. These variables are (1) the glottal replacement of /t/ in coda or non-foot-initial onset positions, e.g. bu[ʔ], bu[ʔ]er, moun[ʔ]ain (c.f. Speitel & Johnstone 1983; Johnston 1997; Stuart-Smith 1999), and (2) the phonemic distinction of /w/ and /ʍ/, where sounds represented orthographically with wh (e.g. white, somewhere) are realised as [ʍ] (Stuart-Smith 2004: 61). Spontaneous speech is analysed from native speakers of Scottish English born in Edinburgh, aged 57-69 years, from three socioeconomic groups: Working Class (WC), Established Middle Class (EMC) and New Middle Class (NMC), the third category consisting of speakers who have experienced upward mobility over their lifetime. Patterns of realisation across the three socioeconomic groups indicate widespread glottalisation and the merging of /ʍ/ with /w/ in WC speech, while EMC speakers in comparison show a higher rate of the prestigious alveolar [tʰ] realisation of /t/ and variable retention of the [ʍ] realisation. Most striking in the results is that the upwardly mobile NMC group shows the highest production rate of the [tʰ] and [ʍ] variants. Thus, despite their arguably intermediate socioeconomic status, speakers from the NMC group exceed the proportion of overtly prestige variants observed for EMC speech. This result mirrors previous findings by Dickson and Hall-Lew (2015) of a NMC cross-over pattern in the realisation of non-prevocalic /r/ in Edinburgh. It is argued that this distinct pattern among upwardly mobile speakers reflects an ideology of linguistic prestige distinct from that of speakers from a stable socioeconomic background. These results extend previous findings of unique patterns of phonetic variation among upwardly mobile individuals, offering greater insight into the linguistic representation of evolving class identities.
Distributions over strings and trees can be represented by probabilistic regular languages, and this representation characterizes many models in natural language processing. Recently, several datasets have become available which represent compositional semantics as graphs, so it is natural to seek the equivalent of probabilistic regular languages for graphs. To this end, we survey three families of graph languages: Hyperedge Replacement Languages (HRL), which can be made probabilistic; Monadic Second Order Languages (MSOL), which support crucial closure properties of regular languages such as intersection; and Regular Graph Languages (RGL; Courcelle, 1991), a subfamily of both HRL and MSOL which inherits the desirable properties of each, and has not been widely studied or previously applied to NLP. Focusing on RGL, we give a new inclusion proof, provide the first concrete algorithm for grammar intersection and parsing, and demonstrate that RGL is expressive enough to represent some common semantic phenomena.
It has been well established that prolonged exposure to the second language (L2) accompanied with long-term disuse of the first language (L1) could induce some kind of reconstructing or change in the L1 grammar. Language attrition doesn’t occur in an across-the-board manner within the syntactic module, and studies have shown that structures lying at the interface of different modules, for example syntax and discourse, are more susceptible to language attrition than those within core grammar. According to the Interface Hypothesis (Sorace, 2011) the “interface structures” employ resources from different cognitive domains during online processing, thus more cognitive demanding. Consequently, bilingual speakers who don’t have enough cognitive resources at disposal could find it more difficult to process said structures. The current study intends to replicate previous findings in Tsimpli and Sorace (2004) by comparing online performances of Chinese-English bilinguals when processing pronoun reflexive ziji within syntax-semantics and syntax-discourse interfaces. My hypothesis is that the syntax-discourse interface will show effects of L1 attrition while the syntax-semantics interface remains intact. The currently study will also investigate the role of L1 input/contact during language attrition by comparing potential attriters with high and low frequency of L1 use.
Semantic parsing aims at carrying out the difficult task of canonicalizing language and represent its meaning: given a natural language sentence, we want to retrieve its meaning. Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) is a semantic representation that provides sentences with a deep semantic interpretation that includes most of the shallow-semantic NLP tasks that are usually addressed separately such as Named Entity Recognition and Coreference Resolution. AMR was devised to be easy to annotate so that large datasets could be easily developed, rather than easy to process with current algorithms and techniques, which makes it a challenging and interesting problem. One of the common efficient and accurate parsing strategies, especially for dependency parsing, is greedy transition-based parsing. A transition system is an abstract machine characterized by a set of states and actions between each state. The sentence is scanned left to right only once, hence guaranteeing linear time and space complexity. In this work we adapt the arc-eager transition system of Nivre (2004) forparsing AMR graphs.
The Paragraph Vector model has been recently proposed as a method for learning low-dimensional representations of multi-sentence documents. As with most embedding models, it relies on a proximity context to associate co-occurring words, while jointly learning embeddings for the documents that contain them. We argue that this technique has certain limitations and propose a general context sampling framework which allows for the instantiation of context policies of varying linguistic complexity as a means of better reflecting documentsemantic content. We evaluate our proposal on a series of document classification and information retrieval tasks and show that context sampling results in significant improvements over the original Paragraph Vector model.
Free adjuncts and supplementary relative clauses are noteworthy in that they are able to take eventualities as well as individuals as antecedents:'Although there is no written law barring female citizens from driving, they are not issued local licenses, making it effectively illegal for them to drive''Although there is no written law barring female citizens from driving, they are not issued local licenses, which makes it effectively illegal for them to drive'(from, with the interpretation: 'Their not being issued local licenses makes it effectively illegal for them to drive')Existing analyses of such free adjuncts (e.g. Behrens 1998) separate out the task of establishing a coherence relation (e.g. Result, for the above examples) from that of the selection of an antecedent. Analysing and manipulating corpus examples reveals that there is a highly complex interplay between not only these two tasks, but also the resolution of e.g. the scope of modals and temporal adverbs. This suggests that an appropriate analysis of these constructions resolves these underspecified and ambiguous aspects of these constructions in tandem, as is done in discourse-coherent frameworks (e.g. Asher and Lascarides 2003). Here, I analyse several corpus examples as a means of demonstrating (i) how syntactic complexity can give rise to ambiguity in complex sentences containing either of these two constructions, and (ii) how hearers must draw on world knowledge as a means of resolving this ambiguity.
Meter identification is the organisation of the beats of a given musical performance into a metrical structure, a tree in which each node represents a single note value. The children of each node divide its note into some number of equal-length notes (usually two or three). The metrical structure must be properly aligned in phase with the underlying musical performance so that the root of the tree corresponds with a logical musical segment, often a bar. We show that using a probabilistic context-free grammar (PCFG) to model the rhythmic structure of a musical piece can aid in this musical meter detection. Additionally, we show that the use of a lexicalized PCFG improves performance even further, as it is able to model the rhythmic dependencies found in music.
This study tested the role of adjacent repetition in early lexical acquisition by comparing infants' word segmentation of reduplicated versus non-reduplicated words. Twenty-four 9-month-olds were familiarized with two passages, one containing a novel reduplicated C1V1C1V1 word (e.g., 'neenee') and the other a novel non-reduplicated C1V1C2V2 word (e.g., 'bolay'). A central fixation paradigm was then used to measure the infants' looking times in response to four word types: 1) the familiarized reduplicated word, 2) the familiarized non-reduplicated word, 3) a newly introduced reduplicated word (e.g., ‘foofoo’), and 4) a newly introduced non-reduplicated word (e.g., ‘yahdaw’). Looking times were significantly longer for the familiarized reduplicated word compared to all other types of words. These results suggest that words consisting of repeated syllables are preferentially segmented in running speech. We discuss the implications of this finding for the role of perceptual biases in early lexical development and its relation to infant-directed vocabulary.
Free adjuncts are considered noteworthy in the thetheoretical and descriptive literature in that the way they relate to their matrix clause must be arrived at by inferential means. The following examples (adapted from Kortmann 1991) demonstrate that the same free adjunct can relate to its matrix clause in multiple ways, depending on the content of the two.(1) Closing the window, John spotted a finch in the garden. [simultaneity](2) Closing the window, John turned to face his mother. [anteriority]Existing research on these constructions adduces a number of different features as being relevant for how they are interpreted temporally, including serial ordering, aktionsarten and world knowledge. In thispresentation, I outline a new accountframed within discourse coherence (specifically, an informal version of Segmented Discourse Representation Theory; Asher and Lascarides 2003 inter alia).This new analysis, which affords itself access to a more sophisticated theory of event structure (outlined in Moens and Steedman 1988), is able to capturethe range of temporal possibilitiesattested for complex sentences containing free adjunctsbutis able to do so in a more principles and explanatory way thanprevious analyses.Discourse coherence as a theoretical framework has been appliedto a number of cross-sentential phenomena, but analyses focusing on sub-sentential phenomena are extremely few.This work constitutes part of a wider research project on how theories of coherence might be used to shed light on sub-sentential pragmatic phenomena.
In our study, we tested the hypothesis that the level of linguistic alignment in dialogue is modulated by how speakers perceive their conversational partner (e.g., Branigan et al., 2011).Sixteen pairs of English native speakers engaged in a Public-Goods Game, during which we manipulated participants' perception of their interactional partner. Believing to be playing with each other, they actually played with a pre-set computer programme that was trying to maximize only its gains (individualistic) or the gains of both (collectivist). Subsequently, participants engaged in a joint discussion, this time with the real other.Using cross recurrence quantification analysis (CRQA), we measured the degree to which participants coordinated their language use. Consistently with previous findings in favour ofanaffiliative role forlinguisticalignment, we found some evidence that people who interacted with a collectivist (vs. individualistic) partner exhibited greater linguistic alignment on the subsequent discussion task. We discuss this finding in the context of previous research, as well as discuss some possible factors modulating this effect, i.e. mood and length of conversation.
This poster reports on the English short-a ‘nasal split’ in progress in Northern Arizona. Two subsets of acoustic data from 2002 were analyzed for social predictors of TRAP/BANsplit: MALE/FEMALEwas tested within an urban sample and URBAN/RURALwas testedamong males. TRAP-lowering and BAN-fronting show apparent-time correlations in the urban sample. Women lead in TRAPlowering and favor a backer TRAPand a higher BAN. This evidence suggests that urban Northern Arizona in 2002 was participating in the short-a nasal split, possibly Californian in origin. In contrast, a fronted TRAPvowel and a lack of a nasal split among ranchers is potential evidence that rural Northern Arizona in 2002 was more oriented to a Southern Vowel system than a Californian one. We suggest that Northern Arizona has been a site of dialect contact between these two major US English varieties.
Current SMT systems rely (almost) exclusively on parallel data. There are around 7000 spoken languages in the word and for the vast majority of them there is almost nothing. However, there are various forms of human knowledge available on the Web. In this work, we explore how to improve word alignment quality by incorporating the bilingual dictionaries, word sense inventories, and morphological information which are available on the Web into the alignment model.
This paper introduces a novel form of parametric synthesis that uses context embeddings produced by the bottleneck layer of a deep neural network to guide the selection of models in a rich-context HMM-based synthesiser. Rich-context synthesis – in which Gaussian distributions estimated from single lin- guistic contexts seen in the training data are used for synthesis, rather than more conventional decision tree-tied models – was originally proposed to address over-smoothing due to averag- ing across contexts. Our previous investigations have confirmed experimentally that averaging across different contexts is in- deed one of the largest factors contributing to the limited quality of statistical parametric speech synthesis. However, a possible weakness of the rich context approach as previously formulated is that a conventional tied model is still used to guide selection of Gaussians at synthesis time. Our proposed approach replaces this with context embeddings derived from a neural network.
The generation of comprehension-induced predictions affects both the timing and articulatory realization of spoken output (e.g., Drake, Schaeffler, & Corley, 2014). The current study investigates whether these effects are predicated on the phonological relationship between a predicted word and a picture-name. We elicited lexical predictions by acoustically presenting sentence-stems. Pictures were named in 4 conditions: match (picture-name fully matched the lexical prediction), onset-overlap (e.g., can-CAP), rime-overlap (e.g., can-TAN), and a control condition (acontextual picture naming). Articulation was captured via ultrasound tongue imaging. Articulatory patterns during the response latency period differed according to whether the picture-name matched the lexical prediction or not, but not according to the phonological relationship between the picture-name and the lexical prediction (i.e., onset-overlap did not differ from rime-overlap). This suggests that the speech-motor consequences of comprehension-elicited predictions may reflect generalized mismatch monitoring processes rather than the activation of fully-specified predictions within the speech production system.
It is often the case that two constructions in Language A appear to correspond to a single construction in Language B. How do bilingual speakers of these languages represent such possibilities? Evidence from structural priming suggests that bilinguals can share syntactic representations across languages (Hartsuiker et al., 2004). To investigate this, we used a syntactic priming paradigm where participants listened to a description of a picture in Gaelic (prime) and then stated if it matched the picture on screen. They would then describe a new picture in English. Prime sentences were manipulated to be either an active, baseline (noun phrase), or one of two types of Gaelic passive constructions. Our results revealed a significant effect of prime type with participants more likely to produce a passive description following a passive prime than a baseline. We also found no significant difference in priming effects between either passive prime type. Therefore, the results suggest that our participants had shared representations across the English passive and both forms of the Gaelic passive. We interpret these results in terms of the theory posited by Bernolet et al. (2013) who claim that higher proficient bilinguals are more likely to incorporate constructions into a single language-independent representation.
The success of supervised deep neural networks (DNNs) in speech recognition cannot be transferred to zero-resource languages where the requisite transcriptions are unavailable. We investigate unsupervised neural network based methods for learning frame-level representations. Good frame representations eliminate differences in accent, gender, channel characteristics, and other factors to model subword units for within- and across- speaker phonetic discrimination. We enhance the correspondence autoencoder (cAE) and show that it can transform Mel Frequency Cepstral Coefficients (MFCCs) into more effective frame representations given a set of matched word pairs from an unsupervised term discovery (UTD) system. The cAE combines the feature extraction power of autoencoders with the weak supervision signal from UTD pairs to better approximate the extrinsic task's objective during training. We use the Zero Resource Speech Challenge's minimal triphone pair ABX discrimination task to evaluate our methods. Optimizing a cAE architecture on English and applying it to a zero-resource language, Xitsonga, we obtain a relative error rate reduction of 35% compared to the original MFCCs. We also show that Xitsonga frame representations extracted from the bottleneck layer of a supervised DNN trained on English can be further enhanced by the cAE, yielding a relative error rate reduction of 39%.
We study the task of movie script summarization, which we argue could enhance script browsing, give readers a rough idea of the script's plotline, and speed up reading time. We formalize the process of generating a shorter version of a screenplay as the task of finding an optimal chain of scenes. We develop a graph-based model that selects a chain by jointly optimizing its logical progression, diversity, and importance. Human evaluation based on a question-answering task shows that our model produces summaries which are more informative compared to competitive baselines.
Semantic diversity in language has been found to increase processing costs on both a behavioural (RT) and neural basis, reflecting diversity within the mental representation required to process a concept, or narrative event. Semantic diversity refers to the range of associations and contexts of occurrence an event can be linked to (Coll-Florit & Gennari, 2011). Concept imageability has been linked to semantic diversity, with neuroimaging studies revealing differential activations across left frontal and temporal lobe regions for varying degrees of imageability in sentence comprehension (Rodríguez-Ferreiro, Gennari, Davies and Cuetos, 2011). Another aspect that has demonstrated similar behavioural effects due to semantic diversity is narrative event duration. Event duration in such narratives affects retrieval time in behavioural tasks and this has been attributed to greater semantic diversity for events of longer durations. However, little is known regarding the neural basis of representations for narrative event duration. This exploratory fMRI study aimed to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying semantic processing across the domains of imageabiltiy and event duration, and how semantic diversity may affect such processing across these domains.
We present the first truly streaming cross document coreference resolution (CDC) system. Processing infinite streams of mentions forces us to use a constant amount of memory and so we maintain a representative, fixed sized sample at all times. For the sample to be representative it should represent a large number of entities whilst taking into account both temporal recency and distant references. We introduce new sampling techniques that take into account a notion of streaming discourse (current mentions depend on previous mentions). Using the proposed sampling techniques we are able to get a CEAFe score within 5% of a non-streaming system while using only 30% of the memory.
We investigated whether an intensive one-week language course would influence cognitive functions. We tested auditory attention in 31 participants at the beginning and end of a one-week intensive Gaelic course and compared the results to 34 matched controls, who either followed their usual routines (passive controls, n=18) or participated in a course of comparable duration and intensity but not involving foreign language learning (active controls, n=16). There was no difference between the groups in any of the measures at the beginning of the course. At the end of the course, the language but not the control group showed a significant improvement in attention switching, independent of the age of participants (age range 18-75 years). The improvement was biggest in the beginners. Our results suggest that even a short period of intensive language learning can modulate attentional functions and that all age groups can benefit from this effect.
Hashing has witnessed an increase in popularity over the past few years due to the promise of compact encoding and fast query time. In order to be effective hashing methods must maximally preserve the similarity between the data points in the underlying binary representation. The current best performing hashing techniques have utilised supervision. In this paper we propose a two-step iterative scheme, Graph Regularised Hashing (GRH), for incrementally adjusting the positioning of the hashing hypersurfaces to better conform to the supervisory signal: in the first step the binary bits are regularised using a data similarity graph so that similar data points receive similar bits. In the second step the regularised hashcodes form targets for a set of binary classi fiers which shift the position of each hypersurface so as to separate opposite bits with maximum margin. GRH exhibits superior retrieval accuracy to competing hashing methods.
Dictionaries almost universally list said as an adjective in cases like a true copy of (the) said document, and the fact that the is optional or even redundant for some speakers is broadly overlooked. Based on syntactic and semantic evidence, I argue that the said should be considered a complex determiner and that said qualifies as a determiner in its own right, which is unexpected from a word starting life as a past participle. Interestingly, the same phenomenon can be found in Spanish and German among other European languages. I show that calquing from French and Latin texts in the 14th century is almost certainly the source of the English innovation.I tentatively conclude that new members of the so-called ?closed classes? can be added directly through language contact in the written channel.
Effective verbal comprehension requires representations of word meanings and executive processes that regulate access to this knowledge in a context-appropriate manner. Neuropsychological studies indicate that these two elements depend on different brain regions and can be impaired independently. We investigated the neural basis of these functions using distortion-corrected fMRI. 19 healthy subjects were scanned while completing a synonym-judgement comprehension task with concrete and abstract words. Each judgement was preceded by a sentence cue that manipulated the executive control demands of the semantic judgement. On some trials, the cue was irrelevant to the judgement, placing maximum demands on executive control processes. On others, the cue placed the target word in a specific linguistic context, reducing the executive demands of selecting the context-appropriate meaning. A network of regions were involved in the task, including inferior frontal gyrus, inferior parietal cortex, posterior temporal regions and superior and ventral areas within the anterior temporal lobe. Further analysis revealed a triple dissociation within this semantic network. (1) inferior prefrontal cortex was most active when irrelevant cues were provided, indicating involvement in executive regulation of meaning and suppression of irrelevant information, (2) superior anterior temporal lobe was most active when cues were contextually relevant, suggesting a role in integrating word meaning with preceding context, (3) ventral anterior temporal lobe was strongly active for both types of cue, consistent with its role in context-invariant representations of meaning. These differing responses to contextual constraints align with neuropsychological and TMS data and indicate functional specialisation within the semantic network.
In this work I present evidence that speech produced spontaneously in a conversation is considered more natural than read prompts. I also explore the relationship between participants’ expectations of the speech style under evaluation and their actual ratings. In successive listening tests subjects rated the naturalness of either spontaneously produced, read aloud or written sentences, with instructions toward either conversational, reading or general naturalness. It was found that, when presented with spontaneous or read aloud speech, participants consistently rated spontaneous speech more natural - even when asked to rate naturalness in the reading case. Presented with only text, participants generally preferred transcriptions of spontaneous utterances, except when asked to evaluate naturalness in terms of reading aloud. This has implications for the application of MOS-scale naturalness ratings in Speech Synthesis, and po- tentially on the type of data suitable for use both in general TTS, dialogue systems and specifically in Conversational TTS, in which the goal is to reproduce speech as it is produced in a spontaneous conversational setting.
When do listeners form pragmatic interpretations about a speech signal when processing linguistic input? We use an exploratory eye- and mouse-tracking paradigm to investigate listener comprehension in a reliability judgement task. Participants viewed visual displays while listening to a speaker tell them which object to click on in order to gain a prize. The speaker was presented as being sometimes dishonest, and critical utterances were fluent (The treasure is behind the…) or disfluent (Um, the treasure is behind the…). Time course data showed that listeners were more likely to direct their gaze and move the mouse towards the distractor object during disfluent utterances, with effects emerging soon after the point of disambiguation. The results indicate that listeners can and do make rapid global judgements about a speaker’s reliability depending on how the linguistic information is conveyed.
When comprehending sentences, we can sometimes predict what is likely to be mentioned next. Such prediction is thought to entail pre-activation of features of predictable words, but it is unclear which features are pre-activated and which are not. A visual world eye-tracking investigated whether listeners pre-activate phonological information when listening to highly constraining sentences. Participants heard sentences like ?The man was gathering honey, when he was stung by a bee ...?, and eye movements to pictures of the predictable word ?bee? , a phonological onset competitor ?bean?, and an unrelated object ?tiger? were compared. We predicted participants would be more likely to look at phonological competitors (bean) compared to unrelated pictures (tiger) if they pre-activated phonology of the predictable words. The results show a trend that partly fits the prediction, but some results are hard to explain. I hope to hear what you think may be happening.
This paper applies a dynamic sinusoidal synthesis model to statistical parametric speech synthesis (HTS). For this, we utilise regularised cepstral coefficients to represent both the static amplitude and dynamic slope of selected sinusoids for statistical modelling. During synthesis, a dynamic sinusoidal model is used to reconstruct speech. A preference test is conducted to compare the selection of different sinusoids for cepstral representation. Our results show that when integrated with HTS, a relatively small number of sinusoids selected according to a perceptual criterion can produce quality comparable to using all harmonics. A Mean Opinion Score (MOS) test shows that our proposed statistical system is preferred to one using mel-cepstra from pitch synchronous spectral analysis.
People in conversation tend to align on the way they speak. Previous research suggests that the tendency to imitate each other?s behaviour plays a crucial role in establishing successful interactions and bonding with other people. There is now evidence that linguistic alignment results in increased group cohesiveness, relationship stability and more positive attitudes towards the conversational partner. In this study, we investigated whether interacting with an imitative partner leads to more positive ratings of the interaction and of the partner himself, as well as if it increases the tendency to cooperate. We found that people who were imitated rated their interaction as more smooth as compared to the group that was counter-imitated.
HMM synthesis: we present a framework for separating each of the effects of modelling in turn to observe their independent effects.
We propose a model for Chinese poem generation based on recurrent neural networks which we argue is ideally suited to capturing poetic content and form. Our generator jointly performs content selection (“what to say”) and surface realization (“how to say”) by learning representations of individual characters, and their combinations into one or more lines as well as how these mutually reinforce and constrain each other. Poem lines are generated incrementally by taking into account the entire history of what has been generated so far rather than the limited horizon imposed by the previous line or lexical n-grams. Experimental results show that our model outperforms competitive Chinese poetry generation systems using both automatic and manual evaluation methods.
When people want to identify the causes of an event, assign credit or blame, or learn from their mistakes, they often reflect on how things could have gone differently. In this kind of reasoning, one considers a counterfactual world in which some events are different from their real-world counterparts and considers what else would have changed. Researchers have recently proposed several probabilistic models that aim to capture how people do (or should) reason about counterfactuals. We present a new model and show that it accounts better for human inferences than several alternative models. Our model builds on the work of Pearl (2000), and extends his approach in a way that accommodates backtracking inferences and that acknowledges the difference between counterfactual interventions and counterfactual observations. We present six new experiments and analyze data from four experiments carried out by Rips (2010), and the results suggest that the new model provides an accurate account of both mean human judgments and the judgments of individuals.
In this study we test how introversion-extroversion affects language and gesture use depending on whether the interlocutor is visible to the speaker. Adults described arrays of objects, half the time with a screen occluding their interlocutor and half the time with the interlocutor visible. When participants could not see their listener, they used more words, particularly concrete words and tended to gesture more. This difference was moderated by extroversion for gestures (i.e., extroverts gestured more when their interlocutor was occluded) but not for speech. We argue that visibility of a listener may influence task difficulty differentially according to extroversion, and may also impact how speakers rely on gestures in accessing the specific and concrete language they think listeners need when they can’t be seen.
Languages spoken by larger groups are claimed to be less morphologically complex than those of smaller populations (Lupyan & Dale 2010), although the mechanism by which group size could have this effect is yet to be convincingly identified (Nettle 2012). One proposed candidate mechanism is the differing degrees of input homogeneity: in larger groups, the linguistic input is thought to be provided by a greater number of speakers, and this may hamper the acquisition, and hence cross-generational transfer, of more complex morphological features (Hay & Bauer 2007, Nettle 2012). I describe two experiments which aimed to rigorously assess this candidate mechanism, and ultimately find no evidence to support it. In the first experiment, 60 participants were trained on a morphologically-complex miniature language of Hungarian sentences, and their acquisition of its case system assessed. Two conditions were considered: one in which the aural input was provided by a single native speaker, and one in which it was provided by three speakers. No statistically-significant difference in the participants? acquisition of the case system was found. There was, however, some suggestion that more limited acquisition was due to the learners finding the training strings difficult to segment, and that this was more prevalent in the multiple-speaker condition. The second experiment therefore aimed to assess whether speech-stream segmentation was more difficult when the input was provided by three speakers compared to one (n=48), extending the work of Saffran et al. (1996), which demonstrated that adult learners can use distributional cues to determine word boundaries in continuous speech. Again, no evidence was found to support the proposal that an increase in the number of speakers who provide a leaner?s linguistic input affects their ability to acquire complex morphology.
We present a novel representation, evaluation measure, and supervised models for the task of identifying the multiword expressions (MWEs) in a sentence, resulting in a lexical semantic segmentation. Our approach generalizes a standard chunking representation to encode MWEs containing gaps, thereby enabling efficient sequence tagging algorithms for feature-rich discriminative models. Experiments on a new dataset of English web text offer the first linguistically-driven evaluation of MWE identification with truly heterogeneous expression types. Our statistical sequence model greatly outperforms a lookup-based segmentation procedure, achieving nearly 60% F1 for MWE identification.
​Soames (1987, 2008) has provided one of the most influential arguments against unstructured propositions---i.e. propositions as sets of truth-supporting circumstances. He claims that the assumption of unstructured propositions in combination with the direct reference thesis (and some further innocent assumptions) leads to absurd conclusions. The aim of this paper is to show that Soames makes a mistake in his reductio by conflating assertoric content and semantic value. I suggest that this distinction leads to two distinct theses/assumptions with regards to direct reference and that neither of these theses can support Soames' argument. Finally, I will suggest that it might be worthwhile to try to formulate his argument with the assumption of rigidity instead of direct reference.
​Deferred uses of demonstratives have generally been thought of as non-standard or figurative cases of language use. Allyson Mount (2008) has argued instead that all demonstrative reference is determined by some object being the cognitive focus of all conversational participants. In this paper I argue that while this uniform theory of reference is able to account for cases of deferred demonstration where the demonstrative is used to directly refer to an object, it fails for cases of demonstrative use which resemble attributive descriptions. I propose that one way to accommodate these attributive uses of demonstratives into Mount’s uniform theory of reference is to consider them to be anaphoric on descriptive phrases which have been made contextually salient, and which link the demonstrated object to a class of possible referents.​
The tongue moves silently in preparation for speech. We analyse Ultrasound Tongue Imaging (UTI) data of these pre-speech to speech phases from five speakers, whose native languages (L1) are English (n = 3), German, and Finnish. Single words in the subjects' respective L1 were elicited by a standard picture naming task. Our focus is to automate the detection of speech preparation through the analysis of raw UTI probe-return data, here captured at 201 fps. We analyse these movements with a pixel difference method, which yields an estimate of the rate of change on a frame by frame basis. We describe typical time dependent pixel difference contours and report grand average contours for each of the speakers.
​We present ParCor, a parallel corpus of texts in which pronoun coreference (reduced coreference in which pronouns are used as referring expressions) has been annotated. The corpus is intended to be used both as a resource from which to learn systematic differences in pronoun use between languages and ultimately for developing and testing informed SMT systems to address the problem of pronoun coreference in translation. At present, the corpus consists of a collection of parallel English-German documents from two different text genres – TED talks and EU Bookshop publications. All documents in the corpus have been manually annotated with respect to the type and location of each pronoun and, where relevant, its antecedent. Construction of the corpus is ongoing, with plans for additional genres and languages in the future.​
Pitch prominence is highly variable in the four types of (dis)agreements identified by Pomerantz (1984), agreement, same assessment, downgrading and disagreement. Even though sociolinguists and discourse analysts have studied (pitch) prominence of disagreement and negation in some detail , they have not looked at its variation in the three other disagreement types. Looking at a 5:30h corpus of casual conversation between several MSc students, I have extracted all (dis)agreements according to Pomerantz’ criteria and analysed them in terms of pitch prominence (vowel length and f0-excursion) to see what conditions and what complicates the variation. This does not appear to be type of (dis)agreement but rather discourse function, and posits f0-excursion as a potential stylistic variable indexing expressivity (cf. Podesva on phonation type as a stylistic variable, 2007).
This study investigated what can be learned about synaesthesia from natural language processing and vice versa. In our study, we asked how synaesthetes experience colours for compound words (e.g., keyhole) and in doing this, we also tested how compound words might be processed in normal language use. Using an online colour selection task, 19 grapheme-colour synaesthetes could provide zero, one, or two colours for compound words. We varied the lexical frequency and semantic transparency of these compounds. High-frequency compounds were significantly more likely than low-frequency compounds to have only one colour, rather than two colours. This suggests that there are two different psycholinguistic strategies for processing compound words: high-frequency words are stored as wholes but low-frequency words are broken down into constituents (Kubitza, unpublished; Schreuder & Baayen, 1995). However, there was no effect of semantic transparency. Reports from participants also revealed greater complexity in synaesthetic word colouring than previous research on grapheme-colour synaesthesia has been able to capture. Our results show that synaesthetic colours vary meaningfully with linguistic measures and can be used to understand the nature of both synaesthesia itself and natural language processing in the general population.
Creating a language-independent meaning representation would benefit many crosslingual NLP tasks. We introduce the first unsupervised approach to this problem, learning clusters of semantically equivalent English and French relations between referring expressions, based on their named-entity arguments in large monolingual corpora. The clusters can be used as language-independent semantic relations, by mapping clustered expressions in different languages onto the same relation. Our approach needs no parallel text for training, but outperforms a baseline that uses machine translation on a cross-lingual question answering task. We also show how to use the semantics to improve the accuracy of machine translation, by using it in a simple reranker.
We introduce a sparse kernel learning framework for the Continuous Relevance Model (CRM). State-of-the-art image annotation models linearly combine evidence from several different feature types to improve image annotation accuracy. While previous authors have focused on learning the linear combination weights for these features, there has been no work examining the optimal combination of kernels. We address this gap by formulating a sparse kernel learning framework for the CRM, dubbed the SKL-CRM, that greedily selects an optimal combination of kernels. Our kernel learning framework rapidly converges to an annotation accuracy that substantially outperforms a host of state-of-the-art annotation models. We make two surprising conclusions: firstly, if the kernels are chosen correctly, only a very small number of features are required so to achieve superior performance over models that utilise a full suite of feature types; and secondly, the standard default selection of kernels commonly used in the literature is sub-optimal, and it is much better to adapt the kernel choice based on the feature type and image dataset.
The conventional wisdom regarding phonologization is that it progresses as a sequence of gradual reanalyses: natural acoustic, physiological and perceptual phenomena are reanalyzed as gradient coarticulatory processes, which are then reanalyzed as categorical phonological processes (Ohala, 1981; Bermudez-Otero, 2007). I argue that this model of gradual and gradient reanalyses is not well supported by available data on sound change in progress. In fact, based on analyses of the rate of change of multiple vowel variants, and in investigations of mismatches between the predictions based on phonetic versus phonologi- cal grounds, it appears that new phonological processes enter the grammar at the onset of phonetic changes, rather than as later stage reanalyses of phonetic changes in progress.
The challenge set by the new field of Attribution Relation Extraction is being able to connect quotations, opinions and other third party information to its rightful source. The work done so far for detecting Attribution Relations (ARs) has dealt only with written text (news and literary genres). Detecting Attribution in speech would also be crucially important, as ARs can represent a source of confusion for speaker identification. However, the crucial role played by punctuation in written texts is replaced in speech by prosody. In order to be able to automatically detect ARs in speech, we should thus consider both the linguistic and the acoustic levels. By analyzing a corpus of informal telephone conversations, the questions that this study is trying to answer are: On the acoustic level: Are there identifiable prosodic clues of attribution in speech? If yes, which are they and what is their role in marking the presence of reported speech? On the linguistic level: Are there any differences between ARs in written and oral texts? And how do ARs change if we switch to an informal register and the dialogue genre?
Verbal irony is a very complex figure of speech that belongs to the pragmatic level of the language. Until now, however, computational approaches to the detection of irony have only tried to find linguistic clues that could indicate its presence without considering pragmatic factors. In this work, I suggest that an important feature to detect irony in online texts, such as comments of newspaper articles or reviews, is the attribution of the comment to a specific source. I present the design of an experiment aimed at evaluating whether the interpretation of an utterance as ironic or not relies on the expectations that the hearer has about the ironic attitude of the source. In order to do so, I'm going to recreate the context of an online newspaper, with news and comments by different users. The hypothesis at test is whether the same sentence is perceived as more or less ironic depending on whether it is attributed to a commentator who is often ironic vs. a commentator who uses irony more rarely.
One part of the long debate about the nature of concepts has been dominated by the disputes between Conceptual Atomists and Conceptual Holists. A third, middle-ground position, Molecularism, has neither been debated as much nor has it been thoroughly defined yet. I will present two possible ways of construing Molecularism about concepts and I will argue that both are variations of the more commonly held views. To support this view, I will offer to metaphor-based reconstructions of Molecularism – Chemical Molecularism (CheM) and Cluster Molecularism (CluM). CheM is the view that some concepts are constructed from more primitive concepts, which, by virtue of their individual meanings and their combination, provide the meaning of the 'molecular' concept. This view relies on Atomist premises and faces some of the same problems as Conceptual Atomism. CluM, on the other hand, is a weak kind of Holism that is based on the idea that there are clusters of concepts that have strong relations (e.g. inferential relations, thematic groupings, or family resemblances), which are connected by more general concepts or by weaker links between clusters. CluM still has to answer to some worries Holism faces, such as the problem of Communication. I will end by proposing that CluM is preferable, based on a speculative idea about the relation between concepts and webs of belief.
Previous work addressing the automatic detection of opinion and quotation Attribution Relations (ARs) has looked at the cue, the lexical anchor connecting the attributed text to its source, as the central element to the task. Most Attribution Extraction approaches are built upon lists of verb cues that are thought to be sufficiently exhaustive and reliable in signalling ARs in a text. The purpose of this project is to test how reliable such lists are once we move away from the news genre they have mostly been applied to. In order to investigate this, I have compared data from a news corpus annotating attribution cues to a small corpus of thread summaries I have compiled for the purpose. The comparison shows not only that cues are highly genre, register and domain specific, but also that attribution cue analysis should not be restricted to verbs. Thus, basing an analysis on pre-established lists of generally valid cues, or even attempting to compile new lists from annotated cues, proves to be a highly impracticable solution.
This study examines bilingualism and executive functions from the perspective of dynamical systems, and aims to compare the performance of multilingual children evaluated in 2008 and the same participants four years later, on tasks involving executive function - inhibitory control and attention. When a bilingual change the language in use by another - code-switching, the control required to inhibit the language that is not being used during a specific part of the linguistic interaction, can improve their performance in various tasks requiring executive control. Therefore, the increase in the executive function purchased during the code-switching can also help stimuli control inhibition during nonverbal tasks. The aim of this study is to observe if multilinguals keep the same ability concerning inhibitory control and attention from childhood into teenage years. The participants were 20 multilingual individuals, first tested when they were about 8-10 years old, and then retested four years after. The language spoken by the participants were Pomeranian (L1), German (L1) and BP (L2). To test the executive function Simon task was used as a replication of Bialystok (2003) study. The Simon task involves executive functions, namely inhibitory control and attention. In the task used, stimuli are presented with different target features and in different positions. Participants are instructed to respond only to target features (for example, by pressing the right or the left key of a computer or serial box according to whether the stimulus is a red or a blue square) but to ignore the position of the stimulus on the screen. Accuracy and reaction times were measured, as well as the Simon Effect. The results of reaction time and accuracy in the task suggest that multilinguals keep their abilitiy to perform the task.
The poster presents results from my experiments and corpus analysis concerning to research questions: (1) *What is the nature of the mechanisms used in metaphor comprehension?* (a) specific to language (Relevance Theory, Graded Salience, Grice) or (b) not specific to language (Conceptual Metaphor Theory). Prediction: If the Conceptual Metaphor Theory is correct, cultures in close linguistic contact should have similar inventories of conceptual mappings used in metaphor comprehension and instantiations of them should be intelligible cross-linguistically. (2) The inferential process is contextual through-and-through, but *do bilinguals make use of context in the same way that monolinguals do?* Prediction: If given contextual information is relevant - i.e. it yields cognitive effects / is informative / contributes some new piece of information - then all speakers should make use of it.
I argue that sophisticated embodied robots will employ conceptual schemes that are radically different to our own, resulting in what might be described as "alien intelligence". Here I introduce embodied robotics and conceptual relativity, and consider the implications of their combination for the future of artificial intelligence. This argument is intended as a practical demonstration of a broader point: that our interaction with the world is fundamentally mediated by the conceptual frameworks with which we carve it up.
Objectives: In recent studies where naive participants were asked to convey information about simple events using gesture and no speech, it was found that participants bypass the rules of their native language when structuring their gesture strings. Consequently, these studies can tell us something about natural dispositions for sequencing information that might have played a role in the emergence of language (Goldin-Meadow et al., 2008). Schouwstra (2012) has shown that the structuring principles that play a role in this process are semantic in nature: semantic organization possibly predated syntactic rules. Moreover, the lab results can be related to the semantic patterns observed in natural communication systems that arise in the absence of linguistic conventions: restricted linguistic systems (RLSs). Examples of such systems are home sign and Basic Variety, the language of unsupervised adult second language learners. My goal is to replicate one of the semantic patterns observed in RLSs in the lab: that of temporal displacement. In existing languages, tense/aspect information is complex, and generally expressed through inflection on the verb. In RLSs, the expression of temporal displacement is relatively simple: the information that an event takes place at some other time than now is communicated by placing a temporal adverbial before an utterance. Methods: In a gesture production task, I asked participants to convey information about events (shown in pictures) that do not take place now. Results: A gesture production study with sixteen Dutch participants revealed that they use the same strategy as that observed in RLSs. Moreover, simple propositional information is never interrupted by temporal information. Conclusions: These results strengthen the conceptual connection between RLSs and the gesture production task, and suggest a semantics-governed picture of the emergence of language, in which complex information was initially conveyed by adding information to the periphery of simple utterances.
Almost entirely ignored in the linguistic theorising on names and descriptions is a hybrid form of expression which, like definite descriptions, begin with `the' but which, like proper names, are capitalised and seem to lack descriptive content. These are expressions such as the following, `the Holy Roman Empire', `The Mississippi River', `the Space Needle', etc. These capitalised descriptions are ubiquitous in natural language. But to which syntactic and semantic categories do capitalised descriptions belong? Are they proper names but with vestigial articles? Or are they genuine definite noun phrases but with unique orthography? Or are they something else entirely? This paper addresses this neglected set of questions. The primary goal is to lay the groundwork for a linguistic analysis of capitalised descriptions. Yet, the hope is that clearing the ground on capitalised descriptions may reveal useful insights for the ongoing research into the semantics and syntax of their lower-case or `the'-less relatives. In the end, we are left with a puzzle concerning capitalised descriptions: it seems that neither an assimilation to names nor descriptions is tenable. According to the traditional taxonomy, there is an important linguistic distinction between proper names and definite descriptions, but the analysis of capitalised descriptions suggests that this distinction is a philosophical myth that does not hold to sustained scrutiny.
We introduce a scheme for optimally allocating a variable number of bits per LSH hyperplane. Previous approaches assign a constant number of bits per hyperplane. This neglects the fact that a subset of hyperplanes may be more informative than others. Our method, dubbed Variable Bit Quantisation (VBQ), provides a data driven non-uniform bit allocation across hyperplanes. Despite only using a fraction of the available hyperplanes, VBQ outperforms uniform quantisation by up to 168% for retrieval across standard text and image datasets.
The familiar pragmatic description of reference in dialogue as a collaborative process invites an important semantic question: are terms of reference that are constructed in a collaborative manner (per Clark & Wilkes-Gibbs, 1986 and similar studies) semantically isolated to the context of their use (the conversation and/or its participants), or are they instead fed directly into a greater domain? If the latter is true, collaborative reference is also a process of far-reaching, dynamic semantic revision; and presently, I offer some early data suggesting terms generated in a collaborative setting may freely and immediately 'intermingle' with terms that were not.
I present two new techniques in the field of corpus analysis. The first technique allows us to compare frequency counts across different corpora and even languages by using an approach similar to z-scores. The second technique allows us to determine for any phenomenon in a corpus how much of its frequency variation is due to true linguistic variation and how much is due to observational deficiencies (measurement accuracy and the Fourier/Heisenberg/Schrödinger/Gabor uncertainty principle).
Speaker Diarization involves segmenting audio into speaker homogenous regions and labelling regions from each individual speaker with a single label. Knowing both who spoke and when has many useful applications and can form part of a rich transcription of speech. The task is challenging because it is generally performed without any a priori knowledge about the speakers present or even how many speakers there are. We present a study on the contributions to Diarization Error Rate by the various components of a state-of-the-art speaker diarization system. Following on from an earlier study by Huijbregts and Wooters, we extend into more areas and draw somewhat different conclusions. From a series of experiments combining real, oracle and ideal system components, we are able to conclude that the primary cause of error in diarization is the training of speaker models on impure data, something that is in fact done in every current system. We conclude by suggesting ways to improve future systems, including a focus on training the speaker models from smaller quantities of pure data instead of all the data, as is currently done.
Information Structure fits syntax like a glove in Old English. There are at least four positions for subjects, five for objects and three for adverbials, which greatly facilitate the information flow from "given" to "new". The change from OV to VO order (ca. 1200) and the loss of a verb-second-like movement rule (15th C) greatly restricted the positions of subjects, objects and adverbials, with information status increasingly aligned with a syntactic function: subjects came to be the default expression of "given" information, and objects of "new" information. Investigating such shifts requires annotating historical texts with information structural categories. As information structure is a relatively new field, pilot schemes to enrich corpora witch labels such as "topic" or "focus" tend to have poor interrelater-agreement. This is why we have opted to add referential information only. NPs are semi-automatically marked up with referential information, with the addition of a label specifying the type of referential link, based on Prince's (1981) givenness categories ("identity", "inferred", "assumed", "inert" and "new"). In my talk I will use this corpus to investigate the hypothesis that the loss of verb-second entailed the loss of clause-initial adverbials as unmarked discourse links.
Relevance Theory (Sperber & Wilson 1986, 1995), Graded Salience (Giora 2003), and Grice (1975, 1978) argue that the mechanisms we use to comprehend metaphors are linguistic in nature. Conceptual Metaphor Theory, on the other hand, claims they are not specialised to language. In this poster I present experimental results comparing monolinguals' and bilinguals' comprehension of metaphors that are either idiomatic in English or German or in both English and German. These results support that the mechanisms are linguistic rather than general.
One of the most contentious debates in studies of dialogue concerns the explanatory role assigned to speakers‘ intentions. To address this issue, this poster reports a computer-mediated variant of the maze task (Pickering & Garrod, 2004), which manipulates the dialogue by inserting artificial clarification requests that appear, to participants, as if they originate from each other. Two kinds of clarification were introduced: (1) Artificial "Why?" questions that query the plan, (2) Fragment clarification requests that query the constituent elements of the referring expressions. As coordination develops, "Why?" clarification requests become progressively easier to respond to, while for fragment clarification requests the converse is the case. We argue that this differential pattern is not arrived at via explicit negotiation of intentions, but via tacit turn-by-turn feedback.
The study of the origins of language and music is an exciting interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research area. By presenting some of my ongoing research on apes and monkeys, I will suggest how the biology of cognition can contribute to the ongoing debate and give us some insights on how we ended up being chatty, musical hominids.
We investigate the use of cross-lingual acoustic data to initialise deep neural network (DNN) acoustic models by means of unsupervised restricted Boltzmann machine (RBM) pretraining. DNNs for German are pretrained using one or all of German, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. The DNNs are used in a tandem configuration, where the network outputs are used as features for a hidden Markov model (HMM) whose emission densities are modeled by Gaussian mixture models (GMMs), as well as in a hybrid configuration, where the network outputs are used as the HMM state likelihoods. The experiments show that unsupervised pretraining is more crucial for the hybrid setups, particularly with limited amounts of transcribed training data. More importantly, unsupervised pretraining is shown to be language-independent. Additionally, we show that finetuning the hidden layers of the DNNs using data from multiple languages improves the recognition accuracy compared to a monolingual DNN-HMM hybrid system.
Although picture-naming studies have contributed significantly to understandings of speech production, particularly of item-specific effects such as age-of-acquisition, the findings of studies of context-specific effects (i.e., where context is manipulated via the use of distractor items) have been less conclusive. This has led to widespread recognition that the nature of information-flow through the speech production system is vulnerable to subtle variations in task, to the extent that similar paradigms can produce apparently contradictory findings (e.g., Madebach et al., 2011).
Text genre classification can enhance Information Retrieval and Natural Language Processing applications. Classifying genres across languages can bring these benefits to the target language without the costs of manual annotation. This poster presents the first approach to this task. It exploits text features which separate genre classes in similar ways across languages, as well as iterative re-labeling in the target language. Experiments show this method to perform equally well or better than full text translation combined with monolingual classification, while requiring fewer resources.
In this paper we address the problem of modeling compositional meaning for phrases and sentences using distributional methods. We experiment with several possible combinations of representation and composition, exhibiting varying degrees of sophistication. Some are shallow while others operate over syntactic structure, rely on parameter learning, or require access to very large corpora. We find that shallow approaches are as good as more computationally intensive alternatives with regards to two particular tests: (1) phrase similarity and (2) paraphrase detection. The sizes of the involved training corpora and the generated vectors are not as important as the fit between the meaning representation and compositional method.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) English proficiency test is widely taken by non-native speakers of English for reasons like higher education, immigration and registration with professional bodies in western countries. In response to the growing demand for the IELTS exam, a wide range of private institutes have opened in Pakistan for the preparation of IELTS candidates, catering to different income brackets. The private institutes offer short General English courses and preparation for international proficiency tests like IELTS. The present impact study of IELTS in Pakistan (following global impact studies of IELTS such as Hawkey 2006) attempts to explore the effectiveness of these IELTS preparation courses in improving the proficiency level of their clients. The study examines the IELTS preparation course at two institutes in Pakistan, BERLITZ - an international institute and PACC - a locally owned institute. A pre- and post-test for IELTS was taken by 20 students enrolled in both institutes. The test data was supplemented by class observation, questionnaires and informal interviews with teachers and students. The study found that unsurprisingly the two cohorts at the two institutes differ clearly at the starting level as found by the pre-test (Students at BERLITZ are more proficient than PACC students). Yet the progress for these two cohorts suggests that there is not much difference in the improvement level between BERLITZ and PACC students, despite superior teaching and resources at BERLITZ. The results can be explained to an extent by the brevity of the courses (both 8 weeks) but they also point to distortions in the market for IELTS preparation in Pakistan where IELTS has assumed a significance that goes beyond the opportunity that a relatively small number of Pakistanis have to study and/or work abroad.
Recent research in the philosophy of language has sought to give an account of the nature of assertion. Some define assertion in terms of the norm that governs it, others in terms of its causes and effects, and others in terms of the commitments that go along with making an assertion. All parties assume that there is such a thing as assertion, but this assumption has been challenged by Herman Cappelen (2011). We strengthen Cappelen's challenge by arguing that the category of "assertions" is too broad to admit of analysis and that the theoretical value of the notion of assertion is unclear. Moreover, without a clear conception of what is at stake in the debate over the nature of assertion, criteria of adequacy for theories of assertion are obscure.
While much of research has focused on code switching (CS), interference in bilingual speech has hardly been addressed. Interference is a language phenomenon that occurs as a result of language contact in bilingual speakers. The main aim of the present study is to investigate the interference phenomena. To describe the language processing of interference in bilingual language production, I propose The Lexical Semantic Interference Model(LSIM). The term interference is used to denote different language contact phenomena. This model (LSIM) addresses certain kinds of interference. This study is based on naturalistic data from the speeches of Mazandarani-Persian bilingual speakers. The research sheds light to our understanding of language processing in bilingual speakers.
We present preliminary work focusing on the problem of combining social interaction with task-based action in a dynamic, multiagent bartending domain, using an embodied robot. We show how the users' spoken input is interpreted, discuss how social states are inferred from the parsed speech together with low-level information from the vision system, and present a planning approach that models task, dialogue, and social actions in a simple bartending scenario. This approach allows us to build interesting plans, which have been evaluated in a real-world study, using a general purpose, off-the-shelf planner, as an alternative to more mainstream methods of interaction management.
People with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) use less efficient strategies than typically-developing participants on measures of verbal problem-solving such as the Twenty Questions Task (TQT; Minshew et al., 1994). While this can be explained with reference to autism-specific cognitive deficits, the problem-solving of deaf participants suggests a contributory role of atypical language development. Like participants with ASD, deaf participants have been reported to ask over- specific questions in their problem-solving on the TQT, even when they possess good language skills (Marschark & Everhart, 1999). It is thought that this reflects atypical organization of semantic networks (Marschark et al., 2004). However, previous research on this profile has not controlled for verbal and non-verbal IQ differences between deaf and hearing participants, so it is unclear how similar deaf problem-solving is to ASD. Moreover, the link between problem-solving and semantic organization has not been demonstrated empirically. Preliminary results suggest that the problem- solving profile of deaf participants on the TQT is a) less efficient than hearing counterparts and b) very similar to ASD performance. Semantic decision performance in deaf children also indicates links between basic-superordinate category associations and questioning efficiency in problem-solving. Overlaps in deaf and ASD problem-solving are important in understanding the long-term effects of atypical language development on cognitive skills.
Computational simulations of the emergence and evolution of phonological systems have shown that, given sufficient time, organizations of the articulatory space emerge in which phonemes are optimally distinctive (e.g. Steels, 1997; de Boer, 2000; Oudeyer, 2005; de Boer & Zuidema, 2010). However, there has been little investigation into the typological description of articulatory optimization across the world's languages. In this poster I introduce a methodology for measuring the optimization of vowel systems, which proceeds in four steps: first, we measure the formant frequencies of a language's monophthongs; second, we plot the vowels in a perceptual vowel space; third, following Liljencrants and Lindblom (1972), we calculate the potential energy in the system using the inverse-square law from Theoretical Physics; finally, we use Monte Carlo techniques to measure the non-randomness of the system. Using recordings from the UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive (Ladefoged & Blankenship, 2007), this method has been applied to 100 languages. The results suggest that there is a high level of variation in the optimization of vowel systems. I also explore the potential for cross-linguistic correlational studies using this measure, which could reveal whether external social pressures affect the emergent state of vowel systems.
The accuracy of speaker diarisation in meetings relies heavily on determining the correct number of speakers. In this paper we present a novel algorithm based on time difference of arrival (TDOA) features that aims to find the correct number of active speakers in a meeting and thus aid the speaker segmentation and clustering process. With our proposed method the microphone array TDOA values and known geometry of the array are used to calculate a speaker matrix from which we determine the correct number of active speakers with the aid of the Bayesian information criterion (BIC). In addition, we analyse several well-known voice activity detection (VAD) algorithms and verified their fitness for meeting recordings. Experiments were performed using the NIST RT06, RT07 and RT09 data sets, and resulted in reduced error rates compared with BIC-based approaches.
This is part of ongoing PhD research aiming to quantify how anticipatory pharyngealisation in Arabic, varies as a function of prosodic boundary level (syllable vs. word vs. phrase vs. intonation phrase). Pharyngealisation is manifested in F2 lowering in emphatic compared to plain contexts. F2 was measured at offset, mid and onset points of both vowels in [V2 b V1 # Emphatic trigger] sequences, where the strength of the # was varied syntactically. The duration of the final vowel V1 was also measured to assess how pharyngealisation was affected by temporal distance from the trigger. Six Libyans produced two repetitions of 62 minimal pairs in all boundary conditions. Linear mixed effects results show (1) that pharyngealisation on both vowels across syllable boundary is stable (2) effects of pharyngealisation on the final vowel, i.e. V1 across word and phrase boundaries, and (3) No evidence of pharyngealisation across IP boundary. An examination of V1 + pause durations suggests that the lack of coarticulatory effects on the final vowel, i.e., V1 across IP boundary may be due to the temporal distance from the trigger: all tokens in this condition had a pre-trigger pause. These results are consistent with the view that anticipatory coarticulation is qualitatively different within as compared to across word boundaries. They suggest that pharyngealisation within words may be phonological, whereas across word boundaries it is primarily a phonetic process, conditioned by the temporal proximity of the trigger. Implications for speech production models, speaker variability, and prosodic constituency structure are considered.
BACKGROUND Single cases of aphasia associated with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) have been documented since late 19th Century, but until recently received only little attention, most of it focused on semantics and syntax. In contrast, the disturbances in articulation and phonology have been commonly attributed solely to dysarthria. However, recent evidence of spelling errors (Ichikawa et al. 2010) and apraxia of speech (Duffy et al 2007) suggests that some errors cannot be explained by motor impairment alone, raising the possibility of more central processing deficits. METHODS We examined 20 MND patients with changes in speech and/or language, using a comprehensive assessment of spelling and repetition as well as syntactic, phonological and orthographical awareness. Patients were screened for levels of hearing impairment, dysarthria, ideomotor apraxia and non-verbal cognitive deficits. RESULTS Out of 20 patients with varying severity of dysarthria, 13 showed deficits not confined to dysarthria. Spelling errors suggest impairment at the level of the graphemic buffer, with word length effects and evidence of omission, substitution, transposition and insertion errors in both elicited and spontaneous writing. Moreover, while 6 patients demonstrated impairment in both receptive and expressive modalities, 2 demonstrated dissociation between impaired comprehension of syntax and orthography, and preserved naming and spelling. We conclude that MND is associated with multiple deficits in spoken and written language and discuss our findings in the context of subvocal rehearsal and an interaction between language and motor functions.
Questions about whether the police acted politely can have a bearing on whether specific police powers are deemed to have been used legitimately (Nadler and Trout, forthcoming); whether or not the police are perceived as treating people with politeness and respect is a core component in overall public confidence in the police (Bradford and Jackson, 2009). However, the question of what actually constitutes politeness in a police context has been rarely discussed. The position of the police institution is more complex than it may at first appear - although generally perceived as a powerful institution authorised by the state to use force, it may also be positioned as an institution providing public service. The challenges for the police in negotiating these positions of authority and service in relation to politeness can be seen in police constructions of apologies. This poster looks at data from the Scottish police, in the form of responses to complaints from members of the public, focusing on how apologies are constructed. My analysis suggests two different types of apologies - one close to a traditional act of an apology 'for' an offence, and a second type, seeking to negotiate around public expectations of service from the police institution. The construction of this second act may be part of the Scottish police trying to develop a type of apology act that responds to both their own and public perception of what their police service should be. References: Bradford, Ben and Jonathan Jackson (2009) "Public Trust in Criminal Justice: A Review of the Research Literature in the United States." Nadler, Janice and J. D. Trout. (forthcoming). "The Language of Consent in Police Encounters." In Oxford Handbook on Linguistics and Law, eds. L. Solan and P. Tiersma: Oxford University Press.
In natural conversations, people sometimes complete each other's utterances. How do they manage to do so? One possibility is that they make predictions about their partner's utterances, just as they can make predictions about their own utterances (Pickering & Garrod, 2009; Gambi & Pickering, 2011). We tested whether participants predict the complexity of their partners' utterances in a joint picture description task. In a pretest, we asked participants to describe pictures with either a short (e.g.,"the soldier follows the swimmer") or a long (e.g.,"the soldier follows the swimmer with the vase and the cane") sentence. Participants took longer to produce the beginning of the sentence (i.e., "the soldier follows") when it was followed by a long ending compared to a short ending (mean difference=0.218 ms, pMCMC<0.001). We interpret this as evidence that people build predictions concerning what they are going to say next. We expect that similar predictions are built for the upcoming utterances of other speakers. We tested three conditions. After a participant produced the beginning of the description (e.g., "the soldier follows"), either the same participant (SELF), her partner (OTHER), or nobody (NO) had to complete the description with a long or short ending. We expected to find complexity effects in the SELF and the OTHER condition, whereas we did not expect to find any effects in the NO condition (where there is no upcoming utterance). The duration of the sentence beginning was longer before long than before short endings in SELF (p < 0.001) and OTHER (p=0.03), but not in the NO condition. However, we did not find a significant length x condition interaction between OTHER and NO. Therefore, we cannot definitely conclude that the effect in OTHER is due to representing the other's utterance.
A key problem for models of dialogue is to explain how conventions are established and sustained. Existing accounts emphasize the importance of interaction, demonstrating how collaborative feedback leads to representations that are more concise (Krauss and Weinheimer 1967; Clark 1996), abstract (Schwartz 1995), systematized (Healey 1997; Mills and Healey 2006), stable and arbitrary (Garrod et al 2007). Despite these studies' very different approaches, a common methodological choice is their study of how interlocutors co-ordinate on the content of referring expressions. However, co-ordination in dialogue also requires procedural co-ordination (Schegloff 2007). To investigate procedural co-ordination we report a collaborative task which presents participants with the recurrent co-ordination problem of ordering their actions and utterances into a single coherent sequence: Pairs of participants communicate via a text-based chat-tool (Healey and Mills 2006). Each participant's computer also displays a task window containing a list of randomly generated words. Solving the task requires participants to combine their lists of words into a single alphabetically ordered list. To select a word, participants type the word preceded with "/". To ensure collaboration, participants can only select words displayed on the other participant's screen and vice versa. Note that this task is trivial for an individual participant. However, for pairs of participants, this task presents the coordination problem of interleaving their selections correctly: participants cannot select each other's words, words can't be selected twice, and the words need to be selected in the correct order. (See Mills 2011 for more detailed description). Despite the task only permitting a single logical solution (and being referentially transparent - the words are the referents), participants develop group-specific routines for co-ordinating their turns into a coherent sequence. Importantly, we show how this development does not occur through explicit negotiation: in the initial trials, participants' attempts to explicitly negotiate these routines more often than not prove unsuccessful (cf. Pickering and Garrod 2004, who observed similar patterns in a series of maze game experiments). Instead, we demonstrate how these routines emerge via tacit negotiation as a conseqence of interlocutors' collaborative attempts to deal with miscommunication. Drawing on how interlocutors engage in resolving these misunderstandings in the test phase, we argue that these collaborative routines operate normatively, having become conventionalized by the interlocutors. References Clark, H. H. (1996). Using language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Garrod, S., Fay, N., Lee, J., Oberlander, J., & MacLeod, T. (2007). Foundations of Representation: Where Might Graphical Symbol Systems Come From? Cognitive Science 31(6), 961-987. Healey, P.G.T. (1997). Expertise or expert-ese: The emergence of task-oriented sub-languages. In Proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference of The Cognitive Science Society. Stanford University, Healey, P. G. T. & Mills, G. (2006). Participation, precedence and co-ordination. In Proceedings of CogSci Krauss, R. M. and Weinheimer, S. (1966). Concurrent feedback, confirmation and the encoding of referents in verbal communication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 (3), 343-346. Mills, G. J. (2011). The emergence of procedural conventions in dialogue. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Boston. USA Pickering, M. J. and Garrod, S. (2004). Towards a mechanistic psychology of dialogue. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 27(2), 169-190. Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction: Vol 1. Cambridge University Press
User simulation is a vital component in training and evaluating statistical dialog systems. However, while the dialog managers they inform have become ever more sophisticated, user simulators have not generated the same level of research or experienced the same advancements: typical simulators require some hand-crafting, they are difficult to evaluate without the managers they are intended to train (leading to circularity of argument) and their influence on the resulting policies of dialog managers remains unexplored. In this paper, we propose a fully generative user simulator that is fully induced (without hand-crafting or goal annotation). The simulator is both stochastic (its behaviour is probabilistic) and consistent (user utterances are generated conditional on a goal, which remains fixed for the dialog). Goals are represented in the model as latent variables, and it incorporates a topic model which clusters together utterances with similar semantics or confusable phonetics, but different surface renderings. Because it is a fully fledged generative model, we are able to evaluate in terms of held-out probability, breaking the circularity common in many previous evaluations of user simulators. Our results demonstrate substantial improvement over a simple fully-generative bigram model, as well as an upper bound on models treating goals as string literals.
Machine Translation is a well-established field, yet the majority of current systems translate sentences in isolation, losing valuable contextual information from previously translated sentences in the discourse. One important type of contextual information concerns who or what it is that a coreferring pronoun corefers to (i.e., its antecedent). Languages differ significantly in how they achieve coreference, and awareness of antecedents is important in making the right choice. Disregarding a pronoun's antecedent in translation can lead to inappropriate coreferring forms in the target text, degrading a reader's ability to understand it. This work focusses on the translation of coreferring pronouns in English-Czech Statistical Machine Translation (SMT). I present an assessment of the effectiveness of source-language annotation for this purpose and highlight limitations with respect to currently available evaluation methods and resources.
"Efforts to extract attribution relations have multiplied in recent years, due to their relevance in particular for Opinion Analysis and Information Extraction applications. Being able to correctly identify the source (either a specific entity e.g. President Obama or a class thereof e.g. experts, official sources, rumours) of a piece of information or an opinion would be extremely beneficial. This would in fact enhance opinion-oriented applications of Language Technology and revolutionise the way we can select information, e.g. on the basis of source expertise and reliability. However, current approaches to the automatic extraction of attribution relations remain limited in scope and precision and are therefore not adequate to support the development of reliable applications. Moreover, there has been little or no attempt to identify relevant features of attribution (e.g. different type of sources, authorial stance) that affect the perception and interpretation of the attributed material. This study addresses several of the attribution strategies identified in Italian and English news corpora, employed to build a broad-coverage annotated resource, in order to develop a more comprehensive system for the extraction of attributions and their relevant features from news texts."
It is now widely accepted that language comprehension involves prediction. Upon hearing eat in the sentence "the boy will eat the cake", listeners are more likely to look toward an edible object than upon hearing a verb that does not impose this semantic restriction upon its theme, such as move (Altmann & Kamide, 1999). Using the visual world paradigm, we investigated the ability of listeners to predict phonological features of themes and to subsequently combine these with the predictions made from the semantic restrictions of verbs. Participants were faster to initiate saccades towards the target when sentences contained a restrictive verb, and independently they looked toward the target quicker when the sentence contained a phonologically restrictive determiner (a) than when it did not (his). Our findings demonstrate that listeners' predictions can be driven from integrated information from multiple linguistic domains.
The current study presents a novel experiment which aims to bridge the gap between theoretical approaches and observed trends in language typology and evolution. Lupyan & Dale (2010) found that the bigger the population using a language, the more that language will encode functional items using lexical strategies. These correlations are hypothesised to be the result of larger language populations having more adult second language learners with different learning biases from first language learners, which may include preferring lexical over morphological strategies (Lupyan & Dale, 2010). Experimental work on the differences between adult and child learning however, has shown contradictory results (Hudson Kam & Newport, 2005,Hudson Kam & Newport, 2009). The current study seeks to demonstrate that foreigner-directed speech should be considered when explaining the typological correlations discussed above. The experiment investigated whether interacting with a perceived foreigner would influence an interlocutor to adopt lexical over morphological strategies. Participants were trained on an artificial language. The language offered two ways of describing the scenes used in the experiment, either using a lexical and a morphological strategy. Participants were in one of two conditions, either the esoteric or exoteric condition, where they perceived their interlocutor as either an insider or outsider respectively. The frequency of lexical or morphological strategies used in a communication task was recorded. The results show that lexical strategies are adopted more by participants in the exoteric condition, but only if the first speaker in an interaction initially uses a lexical strategy. It is concluded that foreigner directed speech should be considered as a factor in the cultural evolution of language when seeking to explain trends in language typology. References Hudson Kam, C., & Newport, E. L. (2005). Regularizing unpredictable variation: The roles of adult and child learners in language formation and change. Language Learning and Development, 1, 151?195. Hudson Kam, C., & Newport, E. L. (2009). Getting it right by getting it wrong: When learners change languages. Cognitive Psychology. Lupan, G. & Dale, R (2010). Language structure is partly determined by social structure. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8559
The treebank is a new resource for researchers working on the intersection between vision and language. It is intended to be a freely-available corpus of images and corresponding text for the development and evaluation of natural language generation, image annotation, and structure induction. It differs from existing datasets because it contains syntactic representations of the data, which makes it applicable to a wider range of tasks. The images are provided in their surface form, as a set of gold-standard object annotations, and as gold-standard visual dependency graphs derived from the annotations. The annotations are made {it with respect to} the corresponding text, which means they cover a wide range of object classes and are directly related to the image description. The visual dependency graphs are generated using a geometric dependency grammar, which defines how relations between pairs of objects can be generated. The text is provided in its surface form and as a syntactic dependency tree, which is produced by a state-of-the-art parser. The treebank currently contains several hundred completely annotated pairs of data.
Recent evidence suggests that people who stutter (PWS) may display different eye movement behaviour in silent reading compared with people who do not stutter (Corcoran & Frisson, 2011). We used the moving window paradigm (McConkie & Rayner, 1975) to examine whether the size of the perceptual span (the range of effective vision used in reading) differed between people who stutter and age- and education- matched controls. Participants read sentences in which information was available from (a) the currently fixated word only, (b) the currently fixated word plus one word to the right, (c) the currently fixated word plus two words to the right, or (d) the whole sentence. Results showed that people who stutter had a smaller rightward perceptual span, compared with controls. People who stutter also showed longer reading times in all conditions, more fixations, and more regressive saccades than controls.
We evaluate several popular models of local discourse coherence for domain and task generality by applying them to chat disentanglement. Using experiments on synthetic multiparty conversations, we show that most models transfer well from text to dialogue. Coherence models improve results overall when good parses and topic models are available, and on a constrained task for real chat data.
Learning to group words into phrases without supervision is a hard task for NLP systems, but infants routinely accomplish it. We hypothesize that infants use acoustic cues to prosodic structure or syntactic probability, which NLP systems typically ignore. To evaluate the utility of word duration information for phrase discovery, we present an HMM-based unsupervised chunker that learns from only transcribed words and either ToBI annotation or raw word duration measures. Unlike previous work on unsupervised parsing and chunking, we use neither gold standard part-of-speech tags nor punctuation in the input. Evaluated on the Switchboard corpus, our model outperforms baselines that exploit either lexical, acoustic, or prosodic information alone, and, despite producing a flat structure, performs competitively with a state-of-the-art unsupervised lexicalized parser. Our results support the hypothesis that acoustic-prosodic cues provide useful evidence about syntactic phrases for language-learning infants. Additionally, our results suggest that predictability effects are more useful than prosodic constituency for bootstrapping basic syntax.
There is little research on language involvement in MS, though the studies that do exist indicate a wide variety of language impairments. No comprehensive study has yet been done investigating MS abilities in all the major language domains. This study used one receptive and one expressive test for each of syntax, semantics, phonology and written language to assess patterns in MS language skills. The results of the group analysis indicate that MS patients are significantly impaired in receptive syntax, word-finding, reading, non-word repetition and spelling. The patients were then divided according to MS subtype. Analysis by subtype revealed that secondary progressive patients are linguistically preserved compared to primary progressive and relapsing-remitting groups on reading, and compared to the primary progressive group on word-finding. An individual analysis showed that subsets of individuals are significantly impaired on most of the language tests used, but there are different individuals in each subset. Syntax was impaired in exactly half of each MS subtype, and double dissociations were seen between syntax and semantics.
The status of universals in the study of language is under increasing scrutiny (Evans & Levinson, 2009).The materialist position on universals contrasts abstract and concrete universals.The former is the universal conventionally recognized by psychologists and linguists; it has an important but limited role to play.The latter is a real entity that is a universal by virtue of its pervasive influence in the domain.The schwa sound is suggested as a viable concrete universal in the study of language use.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is a term coined to cover a group of neurodevelopmental disorders associated with noticeable impairments in three domains: social interaction (inability to develop age-appropriate relationships), communication (difficulties with language) and imagination ("restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviors, interests and activities" [1]). There is no cure for ASDs, but there is strong evidence that early interventions can help children with ASD to become more independent and to acquire social and communication skills. Experts report that interventions using social stories in relation to social communication skills are effective for the treatment of children with ASD [2]. Research shows also that humour might be a very helpful tool in educational interventions for children with ASD [3]. This project aims to explore the social communication skills (specifically sharing attention, sharing emotion, reciprocity) in children with ASD by combining social stories and humour.
Building data sets is problematic in Natural Language Processing (NLP) because it is costly and time consuming to develop them by hand. This motivates the use of existing data, but these data are often in the wrong form. Although widely used in other areas of computer science, linear algebra is rarely applied to the data creation aspect of NLP and speech synthesis problems. We present two examples of using matrix representations to facilitate the building of data sets from existing resources. The first demonstrates the smaller case of merging data sets for use in the evaluation of synthetic speech systems. The second, larger and more abstract example, uses a similar, but inverted, version of this method to gather training data from existing, web-based resources to build exams. This matrix-based approach increases access to, and the utility of, such data and better directs the development of good training sets.
Hidden authorship refers to those scenarios in which an informative act is produced, but in which the communicative intent behind it is hidden. Suppose, for example, that a dinner guest wishes for some more wine, but recognises that, for whatever reason, it would be somewhat impolite to ask for this directly. Instead, she places her empty glass in a conspicuous location where it is likely to be noticed by the host, but does not explicitly bring attention to the fact that the glass is empty. Hidden authorship is categorically different to other varieties of intentional communication; see the table, right.
We present a novel probabilistic classifier, which scales well to problems that involve a large number of classes and require training on large datasets. A prominent example of such a problem is language modeling. Our classifier is based on the assumption that each feature is associated with a predictive strength, which quantifies how well the feature can predict the class by itself. The predictions of individual features can then be combined according to their predictive strength, resulting in a model, whose parameters can be reliably and efficiently estimated. We show that a generative language model based on our classifier consistently matches modified Kneser-Ney smoothing and can outperform it if sufficiently rich features are incorporated.
Laryngeal air sacs are a product of convergent evolution in many different species of primates, cervids, bats, and other mammals. In the case of Homo sapiens, their presence has been lost. This has been argued to have happened before Homo heidelbergensis, due to a loss of the bulla in the hyoid bone from Austrolopithecus afarensis (Martinez, 2008), at a range of 500kya to 3.3mya. (de Boer, to appear). Justifications for the loss of laryngeal air sacs include infection, the ability to modify breathing patterns and reduce need for an anti-hyperventilating device (Hewitt et al, 2002), and the selection against air sacs as they are disadvantageous for subtle, timed, and distinct sounds. (de Boer, to appear). Further, it has been suggested that the loss goes against the significant correlation of air sac retention to evolutionary growth in body mass (Hewitt et al., 2002). I argue that the loss of air sacs may have occurred more recently (less than 500kya), as the loss of the bulla in the hyoid does not exclude the possibility of airs sacs, as in cervids, where laryngeal air sacs can project between two muscles (Frey et al., 2007). Further, the weight measurements of living species as a justification for the loss of air sacs despite a gain in body mass I argue to be unfounded given archaeological evidence, which suggests that the laryngeal air sacs may have been lost only after size reduction in Homo sapiens from Homo heidelbergensis. Finally, I suggest two further justifications for loss of the laryngeal air sacs in homo sapiens. First, the linguistic niche of hunting in the environment in which early hominins hunters have been posited to exist - the savannah - would have been better suited to higher frequency, directional calls as opposed to lower frequency, multidirectional calls. The loss of air sacs would have then been directly advantageous, as lower frequencies produced by air sac vocalisations over bare ground have been shown to favour multidirectional over targeted utterances (Frey and Gebler, 2003). Secondly, the reuse of air stored in air sacs could have possibly been disadvantageous toward sustained, regular heavy breathing, as would occur again in a hunting environment.
The Gettier problem in epistemology is based our reluctance to attribute knowledge to people in certain kinds of situations ("Gettier cases"), despite their believing the truth with justification. This has led most people to conclude that the "tripartite analysis" of knowledge (on which knowledge = justified, true belief) is false. I defend the tripartite analysis by arguing that our reluctance to attribute knowledge in Gettier cases is explained by the fact that to do so would generate misleading conversational implicatures.
Twitter is a very popular way for people to share information on a bewildering multitude of topics. Tweets are propagated using a variety of channels: by following users or lists, by searching, or by retweeting. Of these vectors, retweeting is arguably the most effective, as it potentially can reach the most people, given its viral nature. A key task is predicting if a tweet will be retweeted, and solving this problem furthers our understanding of message propagation within large user communities. A human experiment on the task of deciding whether a tweet will be retweeted shows that the task is possible, as human performance levels are much above chance. We present a machine learning approach, based on the passive-aggressive algorithm, that is able to predict retweets as well as humans. Analyzing the learned model, we find that performance is dominated by social features, but that tweet features add a substantial boost.
In this paper I argue that English has a third type of if, that is, a declarative subordinator that introduces irrealis content clauses, as in (1): (1) I'd prefer if you stayed inside. I present evidence that strongly suggests that irrealis if-clauses are not ordinary conditional adjuncts, but function like VP-internal complements or subjects. In syntactic tests like extraction, preposing, clefting, and constituent order, irrealis clauses behave predominantly like complements, not adjuncts. Moreover, no other preposition with conditional or concessive meaning can be used to replace irrealis if. A close analysis of the semantics of irrealis clauses also points towards a non-conditional interpretation, as irrealis clauses refer to hypothetical states of affairs, but no idea of condition is implied in their meaning. Finally, I also discuss another candidate for the subordinator class, the wh-word when, which can often replace irrealis if (albeit without hypothetical meaning), as in (2): (2) I hate when this happens.
This paper presents an experiment on the role of working memory capacity (WMC) among Japanese-English bilinguals when performing a bilingual dichotic listening (BDL) task. Previous studies have demonstrated a significant role for WMC in maintaining attention to the relevant stimuli and inhibiting irrelevant stimuli in monolingual dichotic listening. In the BDL task, in each ear, bilingual participants heard different concurrent texts which were semantically re/unrelated, and in the same language or in the two different languages. They also completed a test of WMC. The results showed that domain-general WMC predicted the ability to suppress the unattended language, regardless of its semantic relatedness to the language in the attended channel, especially when the attended language was English and the texts were read in different languages. This would demonstrate executive control of WMC in speech comprehension when bilinguals are required to maintain attention to one language and inhibit another.
We present a systematic comparison and combination of two orthogonal techniques for efficient parsing of Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG). First we consider adaptive supertagging, a widely used approximate search technique that prunes most lexical categories from the parser's search space using a separate sequence model. Next we consider several variants on A*, a classic exact search technique which to our knowledge has not been applied to more expressive grammar formalisms like CCG. In addition to standard hardware-independent measures of parser effort we also present what we believe is the first evaluation of A* parsing on the more realistic but more stringent metric of CPU time. By itself, A* substantially reduces parser effort as measured by the number of edges considered during parsing, but we show that for CCG this does not always correspond to improvements in CPU time over a CKY baseline. Combining A* with adaptive supertagging decreases CPU time by 15% for our best model.
English vowel production is undergoing a shift in California (Eckert 2008), and one of the most robust aspects of the shift is the merger between the vowels in LOT and THOUGHT (DeCamp 1953). While this 'low-back merger' is quite advanced for much of the Western United States, the distinction is still maintained in San Francisco, California (Labov, Ash, & Boberg 2006). The present paper analyzes the LOT/THOUGHT merger in interview data from a stratified sample of 29 speakers from one San Francisco neighborhood. The results show that the population as a whole is moving in apparent time toward complete merger, while ethnographic analysis further suggests that the surprising, continued maintenance of the distinction among some individuals can be understood with respect to shifting language ideologies and recent social change. Specifically, I argue that the maintenance of the low back vowel distinction, and specifically a raised production of the THOUGHT vowel, has become reimagined as a resource for constructing a more traditional neighborhood identity, while production of the merger, or a lowered production of THOUGHT, aligns a speaker with an emerging linguistic identity that is aligned with broader regional norms. Sociolinguistic research has demonstrated a renewed interest in the meanings of linguistic variables as used in day-to-day life (Eckert 2008b), and I argue here that these meanings can provide insight on the progression of sound change in progress.
This paper presents a syntax-based framework for gap resolution in analytic languages. CCG, reputable for dealing with deletion under coordination, is extended with a memory mechanism similar to the slot-and-filler mechanism, resulting in a wider coverage of syntactic gaps patterns. Though our grammar formalism is more expressive than the canonical CCG, its generative power is bounded by Partially Linear Indexed Grammar. Despite the spurious ambiguity originated from the memory mechanism, we also show that its probabilistic parsing is feasible by using the dual decomposition algorithm.
Bilinguals have shown their cognitive control advantages in suppressing irrelevant information when they are given both visual and auditory stimuli (e.g., Bialystok, 2009; Green, 1998; Green & Bavelier, 2003; Rogers, Lister, Febo, Besting, & Abrams, 2006) and they are seen in tasks calling for inhibition of task-irrelevant cues (Bialystok, 2001). As for auditory attentional control in bilinguals, it has been investigated with phonologically relevant, but semantically meaningless consonant-vowel syllables in the dichotic listening paradigm (e.g., Hugdahl, Westerhausen, Alho, Medvedev, Laine, & Hamalainen, 2009; Soveri, Laine, Hamalainen, & Hugdahl, 2010), which does not necessarily give an implication for language inhibition among bilinguals when they process meaningful spoken messages. Cherry (1953, 1954) and Broadbent (1958) found in the dichotic listening task that the more physically different (e.g., speaker gender; voice intensity; speaker location) the unattended message is from the attended one, the easier it is to maintain attention to the attended channel. As for bilinguals, it has not been investigated how they sustain attention to the relevant auditory information (e.g., L1) while inhibiting the irrelevant one (e.g., L2), in a real-life situation where it is rather common that they interact with each other in a bilingual language mode in that they are communicating with (or listening to) bilinguals who share their two (or more) languages and language mixing may take place (Grosjean, 2008, p. 251). We gave the participants more direct and abrupt interference, i.e., the bilingual dichotic listening task (Miura, Pickering, Logie, & Sorace, 2010), to demonstrate more straightforward evidence of language inhibition and suppression among bilinguals and found that bilingual listeners are able to inhibit unattended language regardless of its semantic relatedness, particularly when the messages are spoken in different languages. Furthermore, it appears that bilinguals can notice whether what they hear in the unattended channel is semantically related to what they hear in the attended channel when they hear the same language in both channels. Our future research will investigate how bilingual listeners filter out auditory information from the unattended channel.
The Naming Game looks at how agents in a population converge on a shared system for referring to continuous stimuli (Steels, 2005; Nowak & Krakauer, 1999). These models assume that a mutual exclusivity bias is necessary for establishing a shared lexicon. However, I show that communicative success is still achieved without this bias. Monolingual assumptions may obscure differences in the evolutionary dynamics of languages in monolingual and bilingual societies.

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