Psycholinguistics- a dead discipline? • term coined in 1954 (Osgood) • aim: to describe the exact operation of the brain during • the production or processing of language psycho- linguistics psychology linguistics
A paradigm shift in linguistics: 1957: publication of “Syntactic structures” by Chomsky • refutes behaviorism • proposes the “mentalist” approach • considers linguistics a subfield of cognitive psychology
Behaviorism in linguistics and psychology: • reduces mental activity and cognition to implicit, observable behavior • behavior is explained as a relationship between input and output (i.e. stimulus and response) • studies of speech behavior and the sound system prevailed • cf. Skinner, B.F.: “Verbal Behavior” (1957)
Areas of psycholinguistic interest: X • language acquisition (L1 and L2) • language comprehension • (includes symbol recognition, speech perception) • language simulation (NLP, PDP) • concepts of reality and language • memory constraints (STM/LTM research) • knowledge representation • strategies of learning X X X X
Psycholinguistics and related disciplines • “classic” psycholinguistics: • - language acquisition • - language impairment • - aphasia research • - reaction times • - ERP measurements
Psycholinguistics and related disciplines • areas of psycholinguistic research: • computability of language processing • neuroscience / neurolinguistics • cognitive abilities (vision, motor control...) • conceptualization • symbolization
Classic psycholinguistics concerned with: psychological processes that make acquisition and use of language possible approaches (cf. Clark & Clark) 1. language comprehension (spoken and written) 2. speech production 3. language acquisition
Psycholinguistics - the extended view concerned with: language as a cognitive systeminternalized within the human mind/brain. ultimate goal: to characterize this internalized system - I language (Chomsky)
Classic approaches in psycholinguistics • 1. language comprehension (spoken and written) • comprehension at various depth levels • speech perception • lexical decoding • sentence processing • text processing
Classic approaches in psycholinguistics • 2. Speech production • reoccurring patterns of speech • typical errors • response times • relation of speech to concepts • speech impairments
Classic approaches in psycholinguistics 3. Language acquisition - L1 acquisition (developmental psycholinguistics) - L2 learning strategy research - acquisition constraints
Neurological foundations of language • correspondence hypothesis: • particular areas of the neocortex are responsible for human language faculty • local results from aphasia research • temporal results from ERP measurements • aphasia: impairment or loss of language ability due to brain damage.
Neurological foundations of language Paul Broca: lateralization of language - located lesions in left hemisphere - related handedness to speech capability - plasticity of the brain (i.e. temporal variability) - migration of neurons - time constraints in acquisition
Neurological foundations of language Carl Wernicke: - separated the auditory nerve (cranial nerve from ear to cortex) along the planum temporale in the left hemisphere
Language-related areas of the brain • Broca aphasics: • nonfluent • agrammatical • morphemeless • unimpaired • comprehension • Wernicke aphasics: • fluent (logorrheic) • impaired meanings • neologisms • severely impaired • comprehension
Language-related areas of the brain • spatial: lateral distribution • - detectable in lesions • - PET, fMRI scans • temporal: brain plasticity • - performance patterns • - physiological changes during L1 • acquisition • - learnability constraints
The paradox of psycholinguistics • L1 acquisition enables children to produce virtually infinite amounts of linguistic data. • Input includes: • distorted input (also: deviant input; Chomsky) can be: mispronounciations, slips of the tongue • omitted rules • inference of rules out of defective material • negative evidence • = pointing at errors • typical errors in L1: *go-ed • atypical errors: *I no like syntax.
The paradox of psycholinguistics • phases in L1 acquisition • single-word stage: • at 12 months: first recognizable words • until 18 months: vocabulary increase • 3 words/month (apple, up...) • no evidence of grammar acquisition • no inflection (plural-s, past-ed)
The paradox of psycholinguistics • phases in L1 acquisition • after 18 months: • acquisition of grammar begins • productive use of inflections • elementary 2-3 word utterances • after 30 months: • acquisition of most inflections • core grammatical constructions • adultlike, multiword speech
Learnability constraints • critical-period hypothesis (Lenneberg et al.) • age constraints in L1/L2 acquisition • age estimates between 11-18
Learnability constraints ssdsadsadasdasddasd Version one: the exercise hypothesis. Early in life, humans have a superior capacity for acquiring languages. If the capacity is not exercised […] it will disappear or decline with maturation. If the capacity is exercised […] language learning abilities will remain intact throughout life. Version two: the maturational state hypothesis. Early in life, humans have a superior capacity for learning languages. This capacity disappears or declines with maturation. J.S. Johnson/ E.L.Newport in Johnson,Mark (ed.) 1996, pp.250.
Explainability of cognitive phenomena 1. Empirism 2. Operationalism 3. Instrumentalism 4. Idealism 5. Realism linguistics, psychology, sociology... physics, astronomy...
Explainability of cognitive phenomena 1. Empirism - knowledge as a collection of facts - universals are not obtainable - theories are summaries of observations 2. Operationalism - science is a system of rules - theories are tools for manipulation
Explainability of cognitive phenomena 3. Instrumentalism - not the meaning of words is important but the way we use them - theories are instruments of experience - there is no “inner truth” 5. Realism - laws have a relationship to reality that is relevant - tool: observation
Chomsky theory: an introduction • refutes structuralism, taxonomy (Harris, Bloomfield) • refutes behaviorism (Skinner, Osgood) • continues tradition of Descartes (Dualism) • language acquisition is determined by a LAD • (language acquisition device) on the basis of a UG • the LAD is a mental organ • theory is primary, data is secondary • for cognition and language the • computer metaphor applies
Chomsky theory: an introduction • 1957 “Syntactic Structures” • set of kernel sentences generate • all possible sentences of a language • kernel transformation rules final phrases • a purely syntactic theory • transformations are algorithmic procedures • "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."
Chomsky theory: an introduction • 1965 “Aspects of the theory of syntax” • so-called Standard Theory (ST) • involves phonology, semantics • Deep structures Surface structures • (semantics) (phonology) • Two subfields emerge: • 1. Generative semantics (Katz, Postal) • 2. Extended Standard Theory (EST) • (Chomsky, Jackendoff, 1972)
Chomsky theory: an introduction • 1. Generative semantics: extends transformations • 2. EST constrains transformations • EST led to Revised Extended Standard Theory • (REST) (1973) • modular • separates syntax, semantics • only transformation left: move-
Chomsky theory: an introduction • Further developments • “Rules and Representations” (1981) • introduces principles & parameters • slot filler principles • Government and Binding Theory (1981) • Minimalist Program (1993)
Language faculty: problems of research • Quine: • investigation of language equals investigation of mind • Chomsky: • knowledge is represented in the brain • proposes the existence of • mental representations = an abstract terminology • for physical properties • extends notion of "material body" for • entities, principles of unknown character
Language faculty: problems of research principles: unknown or unobtainable? mind: a fixed set / endowment with inherent constraints Chomsky proposes 1. problems (science may provide a solution) 2. “mysteries” (beyond humans’ intellectual grasp) Descartes: we are not intelligent enough to understand to what extent our free choices are undeterminable
Language faculty: problems of research 1.) Is the application of the scientific method to the mind revealing? 2.) Is language artificial? 3.) In what way do generalizations distort the view on language?
Language faculty: problems of research • 1.) Is the application of the scientific method to • the mind revealing? • historical coincidence biological endowment • meets aspects of reality in a meaningful way • tolerance of unexplained phenomena • (attention research, mental rotation etc.)
Language faculty: problems of research • 2.) Is language artificial? • Chomsky: question is meaningless even if language • had indeed been created • has developed basing on endowment and • environment
Language faculty: problems of research • 3.) In what way do generalizations distort the view • on language? • Chomsky's demands: • homogeneous speech community • speakers with 100% competence • speech unaffected by exterior (e.g. social) variables
Language faculty: problems of research • 3.) In what way do generalizations distort the view • on language? • Counterarguments: • humans cannot acquire language in a • homogeneous community, inconsistence and • variability are required • if humans could achieve it, it would be done by • different properties of the mind than those which • interact with reality
Language faculty • language faculty: • discrete from other kinds of knowledge • linguistic knowledge (= speaker’s competence): • interacts with processes of perception, memory • displays in indefinitely large number of strings • producable and understandable • syntactic mechanisms are recursive
Chomsky’s Universal Grammar • mind design is modular(Fodor, 1997) • The insight into language faculty may not provide • insight into other modules e.g. vision • Chomsky proposes: • a differentiated version of the modules • genetically coherent properties which determine • human cognitive systems including language faculty
Chomsky’s Universal Grammar • UG: the study of the common grammatical properties • shared by all natural languages and of the • parameters of variation between the languages. • parameters: dimensions of variation, • e.g. subject parameter • theory of UG provides tools to study • any natural language • example: Hawaiian creole (cf. Bickerton)
Chomsky’s Universal Grammar initial state end state Universal Grammar template Internalized language (I-language) L1 acquisition • Language acquisition skills are formal, structural properties
Problems of cognitive research • common set shared in cognitive community: • knowledge representation • language processing • image understanding • inference • learning strategies • problem solving
Emergence of a discipline Cognitive approach: interdisciplinary, emerges at the intersection of the fields experimental psychology theoretical linguistics cognitive approach computational simulation Simon/Newell 1958: “In 10 years most psychological theories will be formulated as computer programs.”
Views on cognitive functioning basic assumption: Cognition, and therefore language, is information processing The human mind is a system that receives, stores, retrieves, transfers and transmits information (Stillings et al., 1997)
Views on cognitive functioning The classical view: language faculty is a mental process - mind can be described as a Turing machine - linguistic processing is a manipulation of symbols - cf. the "Chinese room" metaphor (Searle)
Views on cognitive functioning The connectionist view: - brain employs a computational architecture suited to natural information processing - evidence in functional split, cf. split-brain patients (McClelland, Rumelhart, Hinton)
The classical cognitive approach Turing machine: a general-purpose information processor components: tape eq. memory subdivided into cells each containing one symbol head: moves tape back/forth can read/write symbols
The classical cognitive approach • Turing’s proof: • TM is able to perform all operations a person working within a logical system can perform • TM gives therefore a complete account of what information processing is. • "Any informational simulation process can be realized by a Turing machine" (Turing/Church thesis)
Turing machines and cognition • anything computable can be computed • can make decision about well-formedness of artificial languages • simple steps, primitive building blocks lead to emergence of complex behavior • reasons of relevance: • 1.) provide a complete description of information processing • 2.) may answer cognitively interesting questions • 3.) extend finite states into infinite behavior e.g. • novelty of language
The tri-level hypothesis • mind: shares properties with a TM • brain: a physical symbol system • not one single level of description applies (Marr) • 3 levels of description: • 1. physical level • 2. procedural level • 3. computational or implementational level