Janet Pierrehumbert - Northwestern; New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behavior
Regularization in Language Learning and Change
Language systems are highly structured. Yet language learners still encounter inconsistent input. Variation is found both across speakers, and within the productions of individual speakers. If learners reproduced all the variation in the input they received, language systems would not be so highly structured. Instead, all variation across speakers in a community would eventually be picked up and reproduced by every individual in the community. Explaining the empirically observed level of regularity in languages requires a theory of regularization as a cognitive process.
This talk will present experimental and computational results on regularization. The experiments are artificial language learning experiments using a novel game-like computer interface. The model introduces a novel mathematical treatment of the nonlinear decision process linking input to output in language learning. Together, the results indicate that:
The Cognition & Language Workshop is a Geballe Workshop sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center. We gratefully acknowledge the Humanities Center's support, and additional support from the Center for the Study of Language and Information.
In contemporary psychology, it is common to view the mind as being split. On one side are processes such as perception, attention, and memory. On the other are linguistic processes such as word and sentence comprehension which translate nonverbal representations into verbal ones. I will argue that this split is untenable. Rather than being a medium into which “thoughts” are translated for communication, language acts as a high level control system for the mind, changing how perceptual and conceptual representations are activated. I will support this position by showing how even subtle linguistic manipulations affect behavior from low-level visual tasks to higher-level categorization and inference. I will then discuss several design features of language that make it an especially powerful tool for programming the mind.
The Cognition & Language Workshop is a Geballe Workshop sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center. We gratefully acknowledge the Humanities Center's support, and additional support from the Center for the Study of Language and Information. Organization is by Dan Lassiter (email@example.com) and graduate student co-ordinator Simon Todd (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.