Lexicon, experimental
Oct 22, 2008
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Psycholinguistic ways of
examining the lexicon/syntax
Three things we will look at:
a. Mental Lexicon
b. Collocates
c. Influence of lexicon on sentence structure
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1. Mental Lexicon
How can we investigate the mental lexicon?
Main question: how is the mental lexicon
organized? How do we retrieve words?
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a. aphasia
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Now then, what’s this a picture of? (showing a picture of an apple)
Ra-ra-rabbit.
No, not a rabbit . . . It’s a kind of fruit.
Fruit
What kind of fruit is it?
Oh this is a lovely rabbit.
Not a rabbit. It’s an apple.
Apple, yes.
Can you name any other pieces of fruit? What other kinds of fruit would you have in a dish with an
apple.
Beginning with an A?
No, not necessarily.
O well rhubarb.
Perhaps, yes.
Rhubarb.
What’s this boy doing? (showing a picture of a boy swimming.)
O he’s in the sea.
yes.
Driving. . . driving. It’s not very deep. He’s driving with his feet, his legs driving. Well, er driving er
diving.
In fact, he’s . . .
Swimming.
Good, what about this one? (showing a picture of a boy climbing over a wall).
Driving on a wall.
He’s what?
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Dr . . . driving, he’s climbing on a wall.
b. Semantic Verification Task
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Is a robin a bird?
Is a bad a bird?
Is a goose a computer?
Is a horse a mammal?
Does a monkey have
teeth?
Does a pickle have
fingernails?
Does a bird have feet?
Is a cow a bird?
Is a tomato a vegetable?
Does a bird have wings?
Does an octopus run on
batteries?
6. Is a horse a mammal?
7. Is robbery a crime?
8. Is murder a crime?
9. Is libel a crime?
10. Is a shark dangerous?
11. Is a cow dangerous?
12. Is a cat dangerous?
13. Did Abraham Lincoln
have a beard?
14. Is corn a vegetable?
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Which were easy to reject?
Which were more
difficult?
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b. Semantic Verification Task
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2. Collocates
What are some psycholinguistic ways to look at collocates?
Psycholinguists usually take information from corpora and
use it to create stimuli . . . .
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a. response times
research question: Are collocates stored as a
single unit in the mental lexicon?
Sosa & McFarlane, 2002
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a. response times
Why are response times slower for high frequency words?
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b. eye movements
Research question: Do native and non-native speakers of
English process collocates and non-collocates similarly?
Looked at eye movement response times (and what they
looked at for both native and non-native speakers AND at
both collocates and non-collocates
Findings:
Both groups processed one faster than the other
The freaky thing is that natives processed collocates faster . .
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Non native speakers processed non-collocates faster
Why?
Gerard,
2008
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3. Lexicon and sentence
structure
a. lexical priming
b. syntactic priming
main question: what aspects of the
lexicon/syntax determines what sentence
structure we use?
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a. lexicon
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What else we know. . .
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Animate objects chosen as subjects
Humans chosen as subjects
More frequent word chosen as subjects
Phonological priming (especially rhyming)
more likely to cause word to be chosen
than semantic priming
Age that word is learned determines which
word is chosen as subject
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The woman dialed 911 to report an emergency
situation in her building.
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The car’s windshield was struck by a brick.
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One of the fans punched the referee.
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Bock & Griffin (2000)
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b. syntax
Bock (1986): syntactic persistance tested by picture naming
a: The ghost sold the werewolf a flower
b: The ghost sold a flower to the werewolf
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a: The man gave the woman a box
b: The man gave a box to the woman
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b. syntax
Bock (1989): global syntactic role matters, syntactic priming
does not depend on lexical similarity
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a: The werewolf baked a cake for the witch
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NP
V
NP
PP
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b: The snowman brought a book to the boy
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c: The snowman brought a book to study
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b. syntax
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Manipulations of roles:
The foreigner was loitering by the traffic light
The boy is being woken by the alarm clock
Manipulations of verb form:
Same vs different tense (hands/handed)
Same vs different number (hands/hand)
Same vs different aspect (hands/is handing)
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Bock & Loebell (1990)
b. syntax
How long does syntax priming last?
Bock & Griffin (2000) used same stimuli but varied
the amount of time between stimuli and showing
Picture from 0 to 2 sentences
Bock & Griffin (2000)
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b. syntax
How long does syntax priming last?
Bock & Griffin (2000
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Even longer . . .
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b. syntax
In real life, syntactic priming seems to occur as well
Branigan, Pickering, & Cleland (2000):
Speakers tend to reuse syntactic constructions of other
speakers
Potter & Lombardi (1998):
Speakers tend to reuse syntactic constructions of just
read materials
It may be a feature that helps us to learn language . . . .
Researchers are now using priming to teach second languages
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Lexicon: Experimental - Mark Davies Professor