A Scientific Study of the
Language Faculty: a proposal
and illustration
Hajime Hoji
University of Southern California
4/25/2010
Outline
1. Introduction: the general scientific method and a
study of the language faculty
2. The language faculty and the Computational
System
3. The model of judgment making (as a special case
of the model of comprehension)
4. Confirmed schematic asymmetries
5. Consequences
6. Illustration
7. Concluding remarks
2
1. Introduction
Scientific knowledge gets accumulated by
focusing on reproducible phenomena and
analyzing them quantitatively.
The generative school of linguistics is
claimed to be a scientific study of the
language faculty.
3
But in what sense?
How can the language faculty be studied
scientifically?
What should count as reproducible
phenomena in the study of the language
faculty?
How could they be analyzed qualitatively?
The work presented here (along with the
Ueyama presentation) is an attempt to
answer those question.
4
The general scientific method
Guess — Computing Consequences —
Compare with Experiment
(as Feynman (1965/94: 150-1) puts it)
5
Main Claims
The general scientific method can be
applied to the study of the language faculty.
 Reproducible phenomena in the study of
the language faculty: confirmed schematic
asymmetries
The quantitative understanding in the study
of the language faculty is most crucially
about a contrast between zero vs. non-zero.
6
2. The language faculty and the Computational System
Minimally, the language faculty must relate
'sounds' and 'meanings'.
A fundamental hypothesis in generative
grammar is the existence of the
Computational System at the center of the
language faculty.
7
The Computational System
(as put forth in Chomsky 1993)
8
The core elements of the language faculty
9
The core elements of the language faculty of
speakers of Japanese and English
 Japanese
 English
10
The researcher looking into her/his own mind
11
The researcher trying to go through the "thick
barriers" to get to the Computational System
12
You must wonder ...
How do researchers try to discover
properties of the Computational System?
13
Hypothesis Formation and
Testing Predictions
by Experiments
14
You must still wonder ...
 But how?
 What kind of predictions do you make?
 How are those predictions testable?
 How can they be disconfirmed (or confirmed)?
 How do you conduct “experiments”?
 How do you evaluate the result of an experiment?
15
What are the predictions about?
 They are about informants’ judgments
on the acceptability of a sentences under
a specified interpretation.
16
註: The Model of Prediction Making
To illustrate more fully what languagefaculty scientists do, it would be necessary
to spell out how predictions are made.
But there is not time for that in this
presentation.
Please email me if you are interested.
17
The model of Computational System (repeated)
18
Embedding the Computational System in
the model of judgment making (I)
 γ(a, b): an intuition that two linguistic expressions
a and b are related in a particular manner
 α: presented sentence
 β: the informant judgment on the acceptability of
α under γ (a, b)
19
Embedding the Computational System in
the model of judgment making (II)
20
EPSA
Evaluation of Predicted Schematic Asymmetries
Predicted
Schematic
Asymmetries
21
Predictions
 *Schema-based prediction:
Informants judge any *Example conforming to
a *Schema to be completely unacceptable
under interpretation γ(a, b).
 An
okSchema-based
prediction:
Informants judge okExamples conforming to an
okSchema to be acceptable (to varying
degrees) under interpretation γ(a, b).
22
Disconfirmability and confirmability
A *Schema-based prediction:
Can be disconfirmed but cannot be
confirmed.
An
okSchema-based
prediction:
Can be confirmed but cannot be
disconfirmed.
23
Confirmed Schematic Asymmetries
A confirmed schematic asymmetry
obtains if and only if
(i) the *Schema-based prediction has
survived a rigorous disconfirmation
attempt,
and
(ii) the corresponding okSchema-based
predictions have been confirmed.
24
A Predicted Schematic Asymmetry
 Experiment 1
a.
okSchema:
NP1-ga so-NP-no N-o V
(Under BVA(NP1, so-NP))
b. *Schema:
NP1-ga a-NP-no N-o V
(Under BVA(NP1, a-NP))
c.
okSchema:
NP1-ga a-NP-no N-o V
(Under the interpretation that a-NP is intended
to refer to something/someone specific)
25
An initial characterization of BVA(A, B)
(BVA: Bound Variable Anaphora)
a. A is not singular-denoting;
i.e., either there are two or more individuals or
entities that are 'expressed' by A or there is no
individual or entity expressed by A.
b. B is singular-denoting.
c. B does not refer to a particular individual or
entity.
d. B is understood to 'express the same thing' as
A is understood to express; i.e., the value of B
co-varies with that of A.
26
A necessary condition for BVA(A, B)
Intuition BVA(A, B) arises only if:
(i) What corresponds to B is specified in the
mental lexicon as not inherently
referential.
27
あ vs.そ: a necessary condition for BVA(A, B)
Intuition BVA(A, B) arises only if:
(i) What corresponds to B is specified in the
mental lexicon as not inherently
referential.
Lexical hypotheses (J):
あ-NPs are specified as inherently
referential while そ-NPs are not.
28
A Predicted Schematic Asymmetry
 Experiment 1
a.
okSchema:
NP1-ga so-NP-no N-o V
(Under BVA(NP1, so-NP))
b. *Schema:
NP1-ga a-NP-no N-o V
(Under BVA(NP1, a-NP))
c.
okSchema:
NP1-ga a-NP-no N-o V
(Under the interpretation that a-NP is intended
to refer to something/someone specific)
29
On-site Experiment 1
1. (「あそこ」はどこか特定の機関を指す解釈 で。 )
2割以上の地方自治体が[あそこを批判した雑誌記
okExample
者]に連絡を取った。
2. ( 「2割以上の地方自治体」と「そこ」の連動読みで。すなわち、
「自分のところを批判した雑誌記者に連絡を取ったということ
が2割以上の地方自治体に当てはまる」という意味で)
2割以上の地方自治体が[そこを批判した雑誌記者]
okExample
に連絡を取った。
3. ( 「2割以上の地方自治体」と「あそこ」の連動読みで。すなわ
ち、「自分のところを批判した雑誌記者に連絡を取ったというこ
とが2割以上の地方自治体に当てはまる」という意味で)
2割以上の地方自治体が[あそこを批判した雑誌記
*Example
者]に連絡を取った。
30
Results: Experiment 1
 2 sets of 3 schemata, 12 examples in total.
 Example #3 of On-site Experiment 1 corresponds to
Schema 2B.
 Of the 28 informants, 13 are "linguistically informed," and
15 are "linguistically naïve."
EPSA [10]-#2 (Total 28 participants ; 500 answers) as of March 22, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
53 values
76
54 values
5
54 values
95
Schema Group 2
54 values
74
52 values
3
53 values
94
Total
107 values
75
106 values
4
107 values
95
31
Classifying informants as “linguistically
informed" or "linguistically naïve"
Informants are asked whether they
understand (i) "bound variable anaphora"
or "bound readings" and (ii) "A takes wide
scope over B" as they are used in linguistic
discussion.
If they state that they understand at least
(i) or (ii), they are "classified" as
"linguistically informed" for the purpose of
the discussion here; otherwise, they are
classified as “linguistically naïve.”
32
Resourcefulness Issues
(1) a.
b.
Attentiveness
Patience
(2) a.
b.
Structural resourcefulness
Contextual resourcefulness
33
Instructions affecting informant judgments
 How informant judgments can be affected by the
“instructions”
 Instructions I: 以下の例文が、(カッコ内に指定されている意味で)どうし
ても許せない場合には「×」を、一応許せる場合には「○」を選んでください。
(「少なくとも三つ以上の球団」と「あそこ」の連動読みで。 すなわち、自分と
ころの打撃コーチを批判したということが少なくとも三つ以上の球団に当て
はまる」という意味で。 )
少なく とも三つ以上の球団があそこの打撃コーチを批判した。
 Instructions II: カッコ内に指定されている状況を以下の文で表すことが出
来ますか?どうしても表すことが出来ない場合には「×」を、表すことが出
来る場合には「○」を、以 下の一組の例文を見比べた上で、選んでくださ
い。良く分からない場合は答えずに次に進んで下さい。
(「阪神が阪神の打撃コーチを批判し、広島が広島の打撃コーチを批判し、
そして横浜が横浜の打撃コーチを批 判した」という状況)
三つの球団があそこの打撃コーチを批判した。
34
5. Consequences
(= Consequences of adopting Chomsky’s (1993) model of
the Computational System)
 Reproducible phenomena that we should aspire
to establish in the study of the language faculty is
what will be referred to as confirmed schematic
asymmetries.
 The quantitative understanding in the study of
the language faculty is most crucially about a
contrast between zero vs. non-zero.
35
6. Illustration
Experiment 1
あ vs. そ
Experiment 2
The singular-denoting nature of そいつ
(and そこ )
36
Results: Experiment 2
 2 sets of 3 schemata, 12 examples in total.
 Example #3 of On-site Experiment 2 corresponds to
Schema 2B.
 Of the 20 informants, 14 are "linguistically informed," and
8 are "linguistically naïve."
EPSA [3]-#1 (Total 22 participants ; 357 answers) as of April 23, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
44 values
70
44 values
2
44 values
79
Schema Group 2
44 values
80
44 values
3
44 values
76
Total
88 values
75
88 values
3
88 values
77
37
On-Site Experiment 3
1.
(「ジョンがビルを推薦してビルがジョンを 推薦した」の意
味で)
先生は [ジョンとビルがなぜお互いを推薦したの
か] 全く分からなかった。
2.
okExample
(「彼ら」と「ジョンとビル」が同じ人を指 しているとして)
ジョンとビルは [先生がなぜ彼らを推薦したのか]
全く分からなかった。
ok
Example
3.
(「ジョンは [先生がなぜビルを推薦したのか] わからなく
て、ビルは [先生がなぜジョンを推薦したのか] わからな
かった」の意味で)
ジョ ンとビルは [先生がなぜお互いを推薦したの
*Example
か] 全く分からなかった。
38
Results: Experiment 3
 2 sets of 3 schemata, 12 examples in total.
 Example #3 of On-site Experiment 3 corresponds to
Schema 2B.
 Of the 31 informants, 12 are linguistically naïve and 19
are linguistically "informed."
EPSA [5]-#1 (Total 31 participants ; 793 answers) as of April 24, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
60 values
98
59 values
63
60 values
87
Schema Group 2
60 values
96
60 values
55
60 values
72
Total
80 values
97
80 values
59
80 values
80
39
Lexical conditions and structural conditions
Lexical conditions for BVA(a, b) are most
likely language-specific.
The distinction between あ and そ is surely
language specific.
Structural conditions for BVA(a, b) are most
likely universal.
Let us see a glimpse of that.
40
On-Site Experiment 4
1.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自
分のところの職員を新聞紙上で批判した地方自治体が地
方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
55%以上の地方自治体がそこの職員を新聞紙上
okExample
で批判した。
2.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自
分のところの職員に新聞紙上で批判された地方自治体が
地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙上
で批判した。
*Example
3.
(「そこ」が先行文脈で既出の「財務省」を 指す解釈で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙上
okExample
で批判した。
41
Results: Experiment 4
 3 sets of 3 schemata, 18 examples in total.
 Example #2 of On-site Experiment 4 corresponds to
Schema 1B.
EPSA [1]-#2 (Total 17 participants ; 672 answers) as of April 20, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
34 values
98
33 values
3
33 values
94
Schema Group 2
34 values
98
33 values
10
34 values
94
Schema Group 3
34 values
97
33 values
9
34 values
97
Total
80 values
98
80 values
7
80 values
95
42
Precedence?
1. (「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自分
のところの職員を新聞紙上で批判した地方自治体が地方自治
体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
55%以上の地方自治体がそこの職員を新聞紙上で批判した。
okExample
2. (「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自分
のところの職員に新聞紙上で批判された地方自治体が地方
自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙上で批判した。
*Example
Is the contrast due to the precedence relation
between 55% 以上の地方自治体 and そこ?
No.
43
On-Site Experiment 5
1.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、
「自分のところの職員に新聞紙上で批判された地方自治
体が地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙
上で批判した。
*Example
2.
(「そこ」が財務省を指す解釈で)
3.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、
「自分のところの職員を新聞紙上で批判した地方自治体
が地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙
okExample
上で批判した。
そこの職員を55%以上の地方自治体が新聞紙
okExample
上で批判した。
44
Results: Experiment 5
 2 sets of 3 schemata, 12 examples in total.
 Example #1, #2, and #3 of On-site Experiment 5
correspond to Schema 1B, 1C, and 1A, respectively.
EPSA [1]-#5 (Total 10 participants ; 250 answers) as of April 23, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
20 values
89
20 values
2
20 values
99
Schema Group 2
19 values
88
20 values
7
20 values
99
Total
39 values
89
40 values
4
40 values
99
45
What is the account?
The structural condition in question (which
is part of the Computational System and
hence universal) applies at an abstract level
of representation (LF in the model of the
Computational System discussed above).
46
Various other cases of BVA (A, B)
 A: かなりの数のN, NPさえ、少なくとも#割の、#-cl
の、すべての、Nが ... #-cl, NPしか、etc.
(e.g., かなりの数の会社、トヨタさえ、少なくとも二割
の地方自治体、すくなくとも二割以上の地方自治体、
5人の学生、三つの会社、すべての大学、哲学者が
昨日三人、哲学者が昨日少なくとも三人以上、巨人し
か、どの球団も)
 B: そこ、そいつ、 その会社、その学生、 その球団、
etc.
 Experiments have been conducted to see if we
obtain confirmed schematic asymmetries with a
various choice of A and B for BVA(A, B)
47
What have we found out from the experiments
with such instances of BVA(A, B) ?
 Quite promising.
But I would need a great deal more time to go
over the details, unfortunately.
48
Two Research Heuristics
 Maximize testability.
 Maximize our chances of learning from errors.
 Consequence: Identify what works best—for the
purpose of obtaining a confirmed schematic
asymmetries—as A and B of BVA(A, B) in simple
cases and use them in less simple cases.
 There are other consequences of a similar nature
with regard to (i) other aspects of experiments
and (ii) informant resourcefulness.
49
7. Concluding remarks
The general scientific method can be applied to
the study of the language faculty.
Reproducible phenomena that we should aspire
to establish in the study of the language faculty
is what will be referred to as confirmed
schematic asymmetries.
The quantitative understanding in the study of
the language faculty is most crucially about a
contrast between zero vs. non-zero.
In order to be able to obtain confirmed
schematic asymmetries, we must first focus on
the properties of the Computational System.
50
The researcher trying to go through the "thick
barriers" to get to the Computational System
51
The researcher trying to go through the "thick
barriers" to get to the Computational System
52
Final Remarks
A Plea to Interested Philosophers of Science (mostly for graduate students)
 If you are interested in witnessing (and even
documenting) how (what deserves to be called)
language-faculty science is being formed for
the first time, please get in touch with us and
see for yourself how we are trying to do that
(and how a substantial part of the field may
resist it).
 Regardless of the ultimate fate of our endeavor,
I think there is a good chance that you will be
able to observe (and document) how an
attempt will have been made to study the
language faculty by rigorously applying the
hypothetico-deductive method.
 [email protected]
54
終わり
Thank you very much.
If you would like the paper that contains
the materials presented here, please email
me at [email protected]
55
On-Site Experiment 1
1. (「あそこ」はどこか特定の機関を指す解釈 で。 )
2割以上の地方自治体が[あそこを批判した雑誌記
okExample
者]に連絡を取った。
2. ( 「2割以上の地方自治体」と「そこ」の連動読みで。すなわち、
「自分のところを批判した雑誌記者に連絡を取ったということ
が2割以上の地方自治体に当ては まる」という意味で)
2割以上の地方自治体が[そこを批判した雑誌記者]
okExample
に連絡を取った。
3. ( 「2割以上の地方自治体」と「あそこ」の連動読みで。すなわ
ち、「自分のところを批判した雑誌記者に連絡を取ったというこ
とが2割以上の地方自治体に当て はまる」という意味で)
2割以上の地方自治体が[あそこを批判した雑誌記
*Example
者]に連絡を取った。
56
Results: Experiment 1
 2 sets of 3 schemata, 12 examples in total.
 Example #3 of On-site Experiment 1 corresponds to
Schema 2B.
 Of the 70 informants, 18 are "linguistically informed," and
52 are "linguistically naïve."
EPSA [10]-#2 (Total 70 participants ; 1137 answers) as of April 24, 2010
Schema A
Schema B
Schema C
Schema Group 1
136 values
70
138 values
20
136 values
91
Schema Group 2
137 values
71
134 values
18
137 values
87
Total
273 values
70
272 values
19
273 values
89
57
On-Site Experiment 2
1.
(「そいつたち」が「ある一年生」と「ある二年生」の二人を指
す解釈で)
ある一年生がある二年生にそいつたちの共同研究
について相談した。
okExample
2.
(「そいつ」が「ある一年生」を指す解釈 で)
3.
(「そいつ」が「ある一年生」と「ある二年生」の二人を指す解
釈で)
ある一年生がある二年生にそいつの研究について
okExample
相談した。
ある一年生がある二年生にそいつの共同研究につ
いて相談した。
*Example
58
On-Site Experiment 3
1.
(「ジョンがビルを推薦してビルがジョンを 推薦した」の意
味で)
先生は [ジョンとビルがなぜお互いを推薦したの
か] 全く分からなかった。
2.
okExample
(「彼ら」と「ジョンとビル」が同じ人を指 しているとして)
ジョンとビルは [先生がなぜ彼らを推薦したのか]
全く分からなかった。
ok
Example
3.
(「ジョンは [先生がなぜビルを推薦したのか] わからなく
て、ビルは [先生がなぜジョンを推薦したのか] わからな
かった」の意味で)
ジョ ンとビルは [先生がなぜお互いを推薦したの
*Example
か] 全く分からなかった。
59
On-Site Experiment 4
1.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自
分のところの職員を新聞紙上で批判した地方自治体が地
方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
55%以上の地方自治体がそこの職員を新聞紙上
okExample
で批判した。
2.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、「自
分のところの職員に新聞紙上で批判された地方自治体が
地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙上
で批判した。
*Example
3.
(「そこ」が先行文脈で既出の「財務省」を 指す解釈で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙上
okExample
で批判した。
60
On-Site Experiment 5
1.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、
「自分のところの職員に新聞紙上で批判された地方自治
体が地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙
上で批判した。
*Example
2.
(「そこ」が財務省を指す解釈で)
3.
(「55%以上のNP」と「そこ」の連動読 みで。すなわち、
「自分のところの職員を新聞紙上で批判した地方自治体
が地方自治体全体の55%以上である」という意味で)
そこの職員が55%以上の地方自治体を新聞紙
okExample
上で批判した。
そこの職員を55%以上の地方自治体が新聞紙
okExample
上で批判した。
61
Appendix


The innateness thesis
Historical reflections



Language-faculty science and Linguistics
Methodology in generative grammar
[Historical accident]-al reflections
62
References
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