Language
Definition of Language
• Communicative: transfer of information between individuals
• Arbitrary: no relationship between the symbols (words) used
to represent an object and the object
• Structured: the pattern of the symbols is meaningful.
– Two kinds of patterns to think about
• Morphological structures (e.g., Latin, Arabic)
• Syntax e.g., the boy ran from the angry dog
the boy ran from the dog angry
• Generative: The basic units can be used to build a limitless
number of meanings.
• Dynamic: Languages change by word absorption, and
grammar rules shift.
Definitions of Language
• Critical period
– Developmental stages
– Pattern of cognitive ability
• Recursive
– The dog is chasing its tail
– It’s cold outside, isn’t it?
• Displaced reference: Language can refer to things not
present in the here and now
• The ancient Greeks deduced the size of the Earth, Moon and Sun,
and the distances amongst each, using simple geometry.
Taxonomy of Language
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Phonemes
Morphemes
Syntax
Phonology (e.g., 44 sounds in English) – Sounds, including
Consonants
Vowels
Suprasegmentals –
– Pitch, Tone, Cadence of sentences
– Prosody, information conveyed through tone
• Onomatopoeia ,
– eg. Umph, ouch,
– /woof/ in English, /a-wau/ in Arabic
Taxonomy of Language
• Phonemes
– the smallest units of sound that are considered part of the language,
– one letter like /t/ will have several variants the are aspirant or percussive
(or non-aspirant) which are called allophones.
• English has 44 phonemes, World average is 31
– 70% of World’s between 20 and 37
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Fewest is 11 (Rotakas, Indo-Pacific L.)
Most is 141 (!Xu, southern Africa)
Minimum number of vowels: 3, eg. Arabic
Some have 24, 13 have more than 16,
most languages have about 5
English has around 11-12
Taxonomy of Language
• Morphemes
– String phonemes together and you get morphemes, the
smallest units of meaning like /dog/ which is one morpheme
or /doggy/ which is two.
– There are plural morphemes like /s/, /z/, /zez/ or tense
morphemes like /t/, /d/. There are irregular patterns for
plurals which any native listener would be able to recognize
when hearing them for the first time.
Taxonomy of Language
• Syntax – Word order in sentences – Native speakers know what
is not grammatical even if they have never heard the sentence
before. – Hierarchical structure
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Subject – Object – Verb (Japanese, Maninka)
Subject – Verb – Object (English, Spanish)
Verb – Subject – Object (Jacaltec, Irish)
Verb – Object – Subject (Malagasy, Madag.; Huave, Mx)
Object – Subject – Verb (Xavante)
• All languages have NVO, prepositions, relative clauses, a way of negating,
forming questions, issuing commands, referring to the past and future, and
there are universal semantic categories like animate vs human, or male vs
female.
• No such thing as a “primitive language”, all languages can be expanded to
include new words, all are equally complex, all languages change over time.
In class Activity
• Construct a Table in which each of the 25 rows corresponds to
a phoneme (sound unit) in the English language. List the
consonantal phonemes in the following order (start with # for
“none” then) p, t, k, b, d, g, m, n, ng, f, th, s, sh, ch, v, z, zh, j, l,
r, y, w, hw, h. Each of the 25 columns also corresponds to a
phoneme in English (start with V for any vowel, then) p, t, k, b,
d, g, m, n, ng, f, th, s, sh, ch, v, z, zh, j, l, r, y, w, hw, h.
• Reminder: These refer to sounds not letters.
• Now fill in the table with an X to indicate which of the
phonemes in the rows may be followed by which of the
phonemes in the columns, in order to begin an English
syllable. Place an X in each box in the Table that corresponds
to a legal syllable onset in standard English.
In class Activity
• Questions:
• Which are the privileged / legal phonemes?
• Why are some combinations of phonemes
allowed and others not?
• How is the structure of spoken language
visible in this chart?
Language Acquisition
• What makes language hard to acquire?
– How do you know when one syllabe starts and
another ends? Coarticulation: Phonemes overlap in
time
– Variability in speech signal
– No one-to-one correspondence between the
acoustic stimuli and the speech sounds we hear
• How do we recognize sounds in a way so a
stable set of phonemes is perceived?
Language Acquisition
Vowel
Vowel formants
Main formant region
u
200 to 400 Hz
o
400 to 600 Hz
a
800 to 1200 Hz
e
400 to 600 and 2200 to 2600 Hz
i
200 to 400 and 3000 to 3500 Hz
Phoneme Restoration Effect
• Warren & Warren (1970)
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It was found that the *eel was on the axle
It was found that the *eel was on the shoe
It was found that the *eel was on the orange
It was found that the *eel was on the table
• * was a cough but it was heard as the missing
phoneme implied by the context
Word Superiority and Neural Nets
Demonstration
Based on Reicher (1969)
• On the next several slides, a row of six letters will
appear.
• You will then see two letters, one above and one
below a letter that appeared
• Guess which of the two letters actually appeared in
the appropriate location
XXXXXX
JBDVLM
----BXXXXXX
----L-
XXXXXX
SOKDHR
--K--XXXXXX
--R---
XXXXXX
FATHER
---T-XXXXXX
---H--
XXXXXX
CGZIFW
----FXXXXXX
----G-
XXXXXX
POSTER
--R--XXXXXX
--S---
XXXXXX
RCHUQV
--H--XXXXXX
--U---
XXXXXX
STRIPE
----KXXXXXX
----P-
XXXXXX
CRATES
-----S
XXXXXX
-----R
end
Word Superiority Effect
• Letters are more easily recognized in the
context of a word than alone
• Words are also more easily recognized after
processing a sentence
• This demonstrates the importance of the
interaction between top-down and bottom-up
processing
McGurk Effect
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•
•
•
Lip movements to one sound “ga”
Soundtrack indicates “ba”
What do you hear?
McGurk & MacDonald (1976) found that
people make a comprised sound “da”
•
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73LE1vKGfy4&feature=related
Language Acquisition
• What newborn and very young infants can
already do
– discriminate human speech from other sounds and
prefer to listen to it
– discriminate their mother’s voice from that of
other adult women
– discriminate their language from another language
– they listen longer to a story that they have heard
read in the womb
Motherese
Stages of Language Acquisition in Infants
• Cooing – long vowel sounds (ooooooh) or consonant
vowel combinations (gaaaaaah)
– They are capable of generating any sound found in any
language.
• Babbling – (6-10 m.o.) consonant-vowel
combinations and repetitions (dadadada)
• 12-14 mo become selective towards sounds in
mother tongue, by 18 mo has vocabulary of 50 words
• 24 mo starts using two word sentences
Stages of Language Acquisition in Infants
Babies can discriminate the sounds of all the world’s languages and adults
cannot.
Both Hindi and English: /ba/
vs.
/da/
6-8 month-old babies and adults could discriminate.
Hindi, not English, easy /Ta/
vs.
/ta/
6-8 month-old babies could discriminate.
Adults could not initially but could after 25 trials of training.
Hindi, not English, hard /th/
vs.
/dh/
6-8 month-old babies could discriminate.
Adults could not, and never learned.
Werker et al.
Stages of Language Acquisition in Infants
1. Present babies with strings of elements from an artificial grammar:
VOT PEL JIC RUD TAM
2. The artificial grammar has rules as to the order of elements
PEL can occur: 1st position
2nd position
both 2nd and 3rd
not at all
JIC can occur: after VOT, PEL or TAM
but its position depended on whether VOT or TAM was first
3. The babies listen to the strings following these rules for 2 minutes
4. Test with strings of the same sounds but different rules of combination
5. 12-month-old babies listened longer to new strings from the grammar
they had heard before than to strings from the other grammars
Gomez & Gerken
Errors Made by Infants
• Overextension / overgeneralization
– Doggy means all four legged furry animals
daddy means all grown up men who wear beards
• Overregularization
– Fish (pl.) = Fishes; run ~runned; go~goed
• Competence vs. Knowledge
Look at the Fisses
It’s not fisses, it’s fish
That’s what I said, fisses
Stages of Language Acquisition in Infants
• Babies start off by being able to produce any
sound then they become selective towards
mother-tongue phonemes.
• They are powerful statistical learners
• As a new cognitive ability comes online, the
preceding one shows a temporary deficit
Animals
Got Language?
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Story of Clever Hans
Honeybees
Songbirds
Parrots
Vervet Monkeys
Dolphins
Monkeys & Apes
Hi Honey! I’m Home!
• Honeybees
• • When a forager bee locates food it returns to the hive and
performs a dance.
• • The number of repetitions of the dance communicates the
quality of the food.
• • Distance is communicated by the form of the dance.
• – Round Dance: < 20 ft
• – Sickle Dance: 20 – 60 ft.
• – Tail-Wagging Dance: > 60 ft, coded by rate
• • Direction is also communicated in the sickle and tailwagging dances.
•
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7ijI-g4jHg
•
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NtegAOQpSs&NR=1
Alex the Parrot
Irene Pepperberg has spent 25 years teaching Grey Parrots
“meaningful use of English speech”.
Model/Rival Training
• Trainer + Model/Rival + Parrot
• Trainer presents objects to the model/rival and queries them
about it.
– Correct: Get the item.
– Incorrect: Get corrective feedback.
• The only reward is the object talked about, but after a correct
response the parrot can
request something it wants (e.g., a nut).
Alex the Parrot
•
“Alex exhibits cognitive capacities comparable to those of
marine mammals,apes, and sometimes 4-year-old children.”
• Alex correctly labels
– 50+ objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to 6
•
He correctly uses
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“No.”
“Come here.”
“Wanna go X.”
“Want Y.”
He combines labels to correctly identify more than 100
objects in his environment.
• He surfs the internet
• http://www.pbs.org/saf/1201/video/watchonline.htm
The Great Apes
• Larynx in nasal cavity in most
animals except during vocalizing,
when it moves to oral cavity
• Same true for human infants, but
around 3 months moves to throat
• Lower larynx makes an animal
sound larger, it also happens to
help vocalization and formant
(vowel) production
• Humans have it permanently low,
and it grows even lower in human
male adolescents
Great Primate
• Sarah (Primack, 1971): vocabulary of more than 100 words of various
parts of speech. Showed rudimentary linguistic skills. She modeled her
trainer and was able to use the instructions she received to construct what
appeared to be a rudimentary language of her own.
• Nim Chimpsky (Terrace, 1981): two-words combination
–
"Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange
give me eat orange give me you.“
–
Most of the utterances were repetitions of what Nim had seen
and didn’t show rudiment of syntactical expression (no preference for
the grammatically correct form)
– “Nim give banana” or “banana give Nim” or
“banana Nim give”
Kanzi the Bonobo Chimp
•
Kanzi is the star of animal language studies today (Savage-Rumbaugh,
Shanker & Taylor, 1998).
• He uses a keyboard language called Yerkish.
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Kanzi was not formally introduced to Yerkish.
He sat on his adopted mother’s back while she received lessons in Yerkish.
Mom never learned, but Kanzi started using the keyboard spontaneously.
Since then his “training” has consisted of walks in the woods.
Kanzi understands over 200 symbols.
Kanzi the Bonobo Chimp
• Kanzi was faced with 310 sentences of various types
• action-object sentences (e.g. "Would you please carry the straw"),
• action-object-location sentences (e.g. "Put the tomato in the
refrigerator")
• action-object-recipient sentences (e.g., "Carry the cooler to
Penny").
• Of the 310 sentences tested, Kanzi got 298 correct.
• Savage-Rumbaugh concludes…. Kanzi’s sentence comprehension
appears to be syntactically based in that he responds differently to
the same word depending upon its function in the sentence
• but..many nouns are pragmatically constrained i.e. “refridgerator
in the tomato?” etc.
Kanzi the Bonobo Chimp
• Seems to understands the importance of word order (I.e.
therefore has some limited syntax):
• PUT JELLY IN MILK versus PUT MILK IN JELLY
• He seems to understand rudimentary features of sentence
structure such as who does what to whom:
• LIZ IS GOING TO TICKLE KANZI versus YOU
TICKLE LIZ
People Growing up Without Language
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•
Genie
– Kept in isolation from 20 mo
– Was discovered in 1970 when she was 13+
– Is it possible to learn language at this late age?
– Genie only developed a limited syntax
Applesauce buy store
Man motorcycle have
Feral Children
– Djuma, “Wolf Boy”
• Found living among wolves
• “Mother dead. Father dead. Brother dead. Sister dead. Mother nice. Father
bad.”
– The Boy from Aveyron
• Within a few months Victor could sit in a chair, express his emotions without
being violent, and he could even speak a few words, like ‘milk’, and ‘Oh
God’, which was something Dr. Itard’s housekeeper, Mme. Guerin, often
said. Victor also came to like Mme. Guerin, who fed and cared for him.
Creole and Pigdin
• Creole languages develop “out of nothing”
• Speakers of Pigdin use many mother tongues, mixing
up words and syntax, usually without articles or
prepositions.
• Their children develop the Creole language, keeping
the words, adding prepositions, articles.
• The Creole vocabulary is reduced, word-order is
variable, with little grammatical structure, meaning is
context dependent.
How Language Shows ‘Elements’ of
Thought
• Pinker Stuff of Thought, 2007
• Study of verbs
– Content & Container Locatives
– Datives
– Causative alternations, transitive and intransitive
How Language Shows ‘Elements’ of
Thought
• Content & Container Locatives
• Prepositional and Double-Object Datives
• Causative alternations, transitive and intransitive
• For each of these verb classes:
– Their meaning is synonymous
– The alternation can be applied to many verbs
– Children apply the pattern in situations they could not have
learnt, and adults apply it to new terms
– The difference between Monogamous (only one form) and
Alternating verbs is due to how the brain “makes”
meaning.
Testing Language
Content and Container Locatives
The “Gestalt Shift” in Language
• Container Locative
• Content Locative
• The container being changed is the • The moving object is the focus of the
focus of the sentence
sentence
• Container Locatives
• Content Locatives
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Hal is loading the wagon with hay
Jared sprayed the roses with water
Betsy splashed the wall with paint
Jeremy rubbed the wood with oil
• You can flip many sentences
into Container or Content
Locatives, and like a Gestalt
Illusion it still makes sense
(Bi-stable).
Hal is loading hay into the wagon
Jared sprayed water on the roses
Betsy splashed paint onto the wall
Jeremy rubbed oil into the wood
Content and Container Locatives
Some Flip, Some Don’t
But
• Container Locatives
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•
•
•
Tex nailed the board with posters
Serena coiled the pole with a rope
Ellie covered the bed with an afghan
Jimmy drenched his jacket with beer
• Content Locatives
•
•
•
•
Tex nailed the posters on the board
Serena coiled the rope around the pole
Ellie covered an afghan onto the bed
Jimmy drenched beer onto his jacket
• Red sentences test as odd or incorrect in
experiments.
• White sentences tests as normal or correct
• Think about how a child would learn the difference, and
how an adult can tell the difference for new and novel
sentences
Content and Container Locatives: What does the
Flip Mean?
• Changing entities are treated as moving objects
– A change-in-state = movement.
– The physics of the change-in-state matters. Are
they caused or allowed?
– Verbs that can alternate: caused
• Brush, dab, daub, plaster, rub, slather, smear, smudge,
spread
– Verbs that do not alternate: allowed
• Dribble, drip, drop, dump, funnel, ladle, pour, siphon, slop, slosh
Content and Container Locatives: What does the
Flip Mean?
• Changing entities are treated as moving objects
– A change-in-state = movement. “A state is conceived as a
location in space of possible states, and change is equated
with movement from one location to another in the statespace.” Pinker, 2007, pg. 47.
• Bees are swarming in the garden
• The garden is swarming with bees
• Juice dripped from the peach
• The peach dripped with juice
– “Its reconstrual gets compacted into a single point, its
internal geometry obliterated.” Pinker, 2007, pg 49
Content and Container Locatives: What does the
Flip Mean?
– Alternation reflects the manner of the change-instate matters.
– Alternating verbs involve a ballistic force in
multiple directions
• Inject, shower, spatter, splash, spray, sprinkle, spritz
– Non-alternating verbs involve forceful expelling
from inside a volume
• Emit, excrete, expectorate, expel, exude, secrete, spew, spit, vomit
Datives: Latin to give
The “Gestalt Shift” in Language
• Prepositional Dative
• Double-Object Dative
• Contains preposition to
• “Di-transitive” contains two objects,
the “indirect” and “direct” objects
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•
•
•
Give a muffin to a moose
Lafleur slid the puck to the goalie
Danielle brought the cat to her vet
Adam told the story to the baby
•
•
•
•
• You can flip Prepositional
Datives into Double-Object
Datives, and like a Gestalt
Illusion it still makes sense
(Bi-stable).
Give a moose a muffin
Lafleur slid the goalie the puck
Danielle brought her vet the cat
Adam told the baby the story
Datives
Some Flip, Some Don’t
But
• Prepositional Datives
• Double-Object Datives
•
•
• The IRS fined a thousand bucks to me •
• Friends, Romans, countrymen:
•
Lend your ears to me!
• Goldie drove her bus to the lake
• Arnie lifted the box to him
Goldie drove the lake her bus
Arnie lifted him the box
The IRS fined me a thousand bucks
Friends, Romans, countrymen: Lend
me your ears!
• Red sentences test as odd or incorrect in
experiments.
• White sentences tests as normal or correct
• Think about how a child would learn the difference, and
how an adult can tell the difference for new and novel
sentences
Prepositional and Double-object Datives: What does the
Flip Mean?
• Datives that alternate are ones where causing to give
results in causing to have:
Annette sent the boarder a package
Annette sent the package to the boarder
• Datives that do not alternate are those where causing
to give does not result in causing to have
Goldie drove her bus to the lake
Goldie drove the lake her bus
You cannot cause a lake to possess a bus; you cannot alternate
the verb
Prepositional and Double-object Datives: What does the
Flip Mean?
• Physics also counts for Datives
– To give all at once alternate, but given over time gradually do not
Bash, bat, bounce, bunt, chuck, flick
Carry, drag, haul, hoist, lift, lower, pull, push
• Manner also counts for datives
– In communication, verbs about the pragmatics alternate but the manner
of asking do not
He asked the President a question
He asked the question to the President
He whispered the question to the President
He whispered the President the question
Causatives
The “Gestalt Shift” in Language
• Causative Transitive
• Causative Intransitive
• A subject causes object to do
• The object is doing its thing
• Bobbie boiled the egg
• Tim bounced the ball
• Washington marched the
soldiers across the field
• Jack jump-started the car
•
•
•
•
• You can flip Transitives into
Intransitives, and like a
Gestalt Illusion it still makes
sense (Bi-stable).
The egg boiled
The ball bounced
Danielle brought her vet the cat
The car was jump-started
Causatives
Some Flip, Some Don’t
But
• Transitives
• She thumped the log
• He wrecked the car
•
The thunder is crying the baby
• I came my son home early
• Intransitives
•
•
•
•
The log thumped
The car wrecked
The baby is crying
My son came home early
• Red sentences test as odd or incorrect in
experiments.
• White sentences tests as normal or correct
• Think about how a child would learn the difference, and
how an adult can tell the difference for new and novel
sentences
Transitives and Intransitives: What does the Flip Mean?
• Causitives can alternate if the causation is direct
The window broke
Darren broke the window
Darren broke the window by startling the carpenter who was
installing it
• Volitional
The contract was signed; Bob signed the contract
Mary laughed; Bob laughed Mary
Language Reflects Deep Structure
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•
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When cause to go  cause to change
When cause to go  cause to have
Cause to happen vs happen
The physics
The manner
Errors in Flipping the Frame
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•
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•
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Can I fill some salt into the bear?
I’m going to cover a screen over me
Feel your hand to that
Look, Mom, I’m gonna pour it with water, my belly.
I hitted this into my neck
Eventually, Children Flip the Frame
• The Mooping Test (A Wug Test)
– Create a word mooping (to move a sponge to a
purple cloth turning it green)
– The verb describes the manner of moving
(zigzagging) versus moving which results in the
cloth changing colors
– In motion condition, children and adults use
content-locative (mooping the sponge)
– in color changing condition children and adults use
container-locative (mooping the cloth)
What Do Content and Container Locatives Tell us
About Language? Can Animals DO THIS?
• Language has a structure that shifts depending
on whether the emphasis is on
–
–
–
–
causing-to-change
causing-to-happen
causing-to-have
Language also Makes Metaphors out of
• Time
• Space
• Matter
Interactive-Activation Model of
Word Recognition
Superficial Dyslexia
• Neural mechanisms underlying
developmental dyslexia:
• single or multiple?
– Phonological representation deficits
– General temporal processing deficits
– Magnocellular deficits
The Birds and the Monkeys
(Insert avarian-primate joke here)
• Songbirds
• • Male songbirds use their songs to establish a territory.
• • This serves as a warning to other males and as an invitation to prospective
mates.
• • In European Robins, the songs can vary in complicated ways, but the only
aspect of this variation
• that “matters” is the alternation between high and low-pitched notes. This
communicates how
• intensely the robin will defend this territory.
• Vervet Monkeys
•
•
•
•
•
• African Vervet monkeys live in close-knit social groups.
• They use three distinct “calls” to signal danger.
– Snake: Troupe stands on hind legs and scans the ground.
– Leopard: Troupe climbs onto smallest branches of nearby trees.
– Eagle: Troupe climbs trees but stays close to trunk or dives into dense
bushes.
What Do Content and Container Locatives Tell us
About Language?
• Verbs that allow both locative shifts (e.g., load hay into the
wagon, and, load the wagon with hay):
Brush, dab, daub, plaster, rub, slather, smear, smudge, spread,
swab
• Verbs that are content-loc. and do not permit a shift (e.g.,
pour water into the glass, but not, pour the glass with water):
Dribble, drip, drop, dump, funnel, ladle, pour, shake, siphon,
slop, slosh, spill
• Verbs that are container-loc and do not permit a shift (e.g.,
drench the shirt with wine, but not, drench wine into the shirt)
Adorn, pollute, block, bind, interlace, cover, inundate
Children Flip the Frame
•
•
•
•
•
Can I fill some salt into the bear?
I’m going to cover a screen over me
Feel your hand to that
Look, Mom, I’m gonna pour it with water, my belly.
I hitted this into my neck
• The Mooping Test (A Wug Test)
– Create a word mooping (to move a sponge to a purple cloth
turning it green)
– The verb describes the manner of moving (zigzagging)
versus moving which results in the cloth changing colors
– In motion condition, children and adults use contentlocative (mooping the sponge)
– in color changing condition children and adults use
container-locative (mooping the cloth)
Content and Container Locatives
The “Gestalt Shift” in Language
• Container Locatives • Content Locatives
•
•
•
•
Hal is loading the wagon with hay
Jared sprayed the roses with water
Betsy splashed the wall with paint
Jeremy rubbed the wood with oil
•
•
•
•
Hal is loading hay into the wagon
Jared sprayed water on the roses
Betsy splashed paint onto the wall
Jeremy rubbed oil into the wood
But
• Container Locatives
•
•
•
•
Tex nailed the board with posters
Serena coiled the pole with a rope
Ellie covered the bed with an afghan
Jimmy drenched his jacket with beer
• Content Locatives
•
•
•
•
Tex nailed the posters on the board
Serena coiled the rope around the pole
Ellie covered an afghan onto the bed
Jimmy drenched beer onto his jacket
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Lecture # 6 - Language