Join us today (Friday 3/20) for the last P-interest talk of the quarter, where Florian Lionnet (UC Berkeley) will be giving a talk entitled “Laal rounding harmony: the case for subfeatural representations in phonology”. The talk will be at noon in the Greenberg Room (460-126).
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Join our colleagues in UC Berkeley’s Cognitive Science Student Association for the 7th annual California Cognitive Science Conference on Saturday, May 2nd.
This year’s theme is Communication: The Connected Mind, and will feature speakers from the fields of Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Anthropology, and Design, among others. See the roster of speakers below, and register here.
California Cognitive Science Conference
Robert Knight, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, UC Berkeley; Professor of Neurology, UCSF
Don Norman, Director of The Design Lab, UC San Diego
Tania Lombrozo, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley
Briankle Chang, Professor of Communication and Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Kathleen Carley, Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
William Hanks, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Gary Dell, Professor of Linguistics and Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eve Sweetser, Professor of Linguistics, UC Berkeley
Join us today at noon in the Greenberg Room for a talk by Daniel Silverman (San José State) on two functional forces governing neutralization.
Neutralization: rhyme and reason in phonology
“Neutralization” is a conditioned limitation on the distribution of a language’s contrastive values. The thesis explored herein: most cases of neutralizing alternation are heterophone-maintaining, and are consequently function-neutral, in the sense that lexical semantic distinctness remains stable. Only in those rare instances when a neutralizing alternation is homophone-deriving might it be function-negative, in terms of potentially rendering lexical semantic content non-distinct. Indeed, neutralization is often function-positive, as it may serve as an aid to parsing the speech stream into its functional (morphemic and lexical) components. In all, it is proposed that neutralization may proceed largely unchecked (thus increasing what I term phonological RHYME), until encountering a passive, usage-based pressure inhibiting excessive derived homophony (that is, until phonological REASON would be breached).
SemFest is right around the corner! Next Friday (3/13) at 1PM in the Greenberg Room, we will gather to hear about exciting semantics work going on in the department! All are welcome!
SemFest 2015 – Schedule
1:00 – 1:30 Phil Crone and Michael C. Frank “Morphosyntactic and Referential Cues to the Identification of Generic Statements”
1:30 – 2:00 Michael Henry Tessler and Noah D. Goodman “A Computational Model of Generic Language”
2:00 – 2:30 Greg Scontras and Noah D. Goodman “The Role of Context in Plural Predication”
2:45 – 3:15 Ming Chew Teo “Contrastive lor in Singapore Colloquial English: Another discourse-semantic account”
3:15 – 3:45 Lelia Glass “An Analysis of the Negatively-Biased Mandarin Belief Verb yˇiwéi”
4:00 – 4:30 Dasha Popova “Evidential Uses of Komi-Zyrian Past Tense Morphemes”
4:30 – 5:00 “James Collins The Scope of Futures”
5:00 Social in the Department Lounge
Join the P-interest workshop today at noon in the Greenberg Room, where Santiago Barreda (UC Davis) will speak about speaker-adaptive vowel perception.
Modelling speaker-adaptive vowel perception using a statistical pattern-recognition model
In this talk I will outline experimental evidence suggesting that vowel perception and the determination of apparent speaker characteristics are related processes, and that they interact and cooperate. In this view of vowel perception, the interpretation of acoustic information is based on what the listener expects for a given speaker, and the detection of speaker changes is an important aspect of speech perception. This approach to speech perception is able to explain a wide range of experimental results including the influence of instructions on vowel perception, the increased reaction times associated with mixed-speaker listening situations, and the indirect effect of some speech cues (e.g. pitch) on perceived vowel quality. I will outline a statistical model of vowel perception that identifies vowel sounds probabilistically, on the basis of speaker-specific expectations. The results of some behavioral experiments were simulated using this model to compare the predictions made by alternative views of vowel perception. Results support the notion that vowel perception is tied to speaker expectations and the detection of speaker changes rather than being deterministically related to the acoustic characteristics of a speech sound.
Reminder: Floris Roelofsen (Universiteit van Amsterdam) will be giving a talk for the Construction of Meaning Workshop today in the Greenberg Room on work in Montague Grammar.
Alternatives in Montague grammar
The type theoretic framework for natural language semantics laid out by Montague (1973) forms the cornerstone of formal semantics. Hamblin (1973) proposed an extension of Montague’s basic framework, referred to as alternative semantics. In this framework, the meaning of a sentence is not taken to be a single proposition, but rather a set of propositions—a set of alternatives. While this more fine-grained view on meaning has led to improved analyses of a wide range of linguistic phenomena, it also faces a number of problems. We focus here on two of these, in our view the most fundamental ones.
The first has to do with how meanings are composed, i.e., with the type-theoretic operations of function application and abstrac- tion; the second has to do with how meanings are compared,i.e., the notion of entailment. Our aim is to reconcile what we take to be the essence of Hamblin’s proposal with the solid type-theoretic foundations of Montague grammar, in such a way that the observed problems evaporate. Our proposal partly builds on insights from recent work on inquisitive semantics (Ciardelli et al., 2013), and it also further advances this line of work, specifying how the inquisitive meaning of a sentence, as well as the set of alternatives that it introduces, may be built up compositionally.
This talk presents joint work with Ivano Ciardelli.
Join the P-Interest Workshop as they welcome Jevon Heath (Berkeley), who will present on recent work in phonetic accommodation. The talk will be in the Greenberg Room.
How do we measure phonetic accommodation?
In phonetic accommodation, talkers change the way they talk due to their interlocutors’ speech. This is commonly interpreted as imitation of features found in the received speech signal, and a growing body of literature relies on measuring the degree of imitation talkers evince in order to draw conclusions about attitudes toward their interlocutors. However, the best way of carrying out this measurement is unclear. Some studies have relied on quantitative measurements of particular phonetic features (Shockley et al. 2004, Babel 2010, inter alia); other studies use qualitative judgments from a third party (the AXB paradigm (Goldinger 1998, Pardo et al. 2012, inter alia). I present data from two studies indicating issues with both quantitative and qualitative methods of measuring phonetic accommodation. In the first study, I find that participants converging towards a model talker in one dimension simultaneously diverge in a related dimension, indicating the difficulty of isolating a particular feature or set of features as the locus of imitation. In the second study, listeners participated in an AXB study in which the two model speakers had not interacted. I find that listeners exposed to two recordings of the same speaker at different times report that speaker’s later iteration as sounding more similar to a second speaker, even in a context in which no accommodation is possible. I conclude with suggestions for mitigating these issues in accommodation studies going forward.
The CogLanguage Workshop would like to welcome you to a talk by Gary Lupyan (Wisconsin-Madison) on his work on the realization of language and thought in the mind. All are welcome to this exciting talk, which will take place at 4PM in the Greenberg Room!
How Language Programs the Mind
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.