The influence of sentential context and frequency of occurrence on the recognition of words with scrambled letters
In this paper we examine the "jumbled words" effect which denotes human ability to easily read words whose internal letters have been re-arranged as long as external letters remain in their positions. Hitherto, many explanations for this effect have focussed on the processes that operate "bottom-up". Here we suggest that "top-down" processes also play an important role and demonstrate this experimentally. First, we briefly describe the main types of word-recognition models and consider which model best explains the effect. Then, we present an experiment in which jumbled words of different frequency of occurrence were immersed in various types of contexts. Results indicate that both the frequency and semantic sentential context are involved in jumbled word recognition. The implications of these findings for word recognition models are discussed.
In the face of the complexity of language as an object of study, it becomes crucial for researchers who investigate its various facets to communicate and to understand each-others’ terminology, methods and results. The feasibility and utility of striving for the elegance of formal models of isolated aspects of the linguistic system (for example, set of generative rules in an individual’s head) are called into question: a theory of language needs to account for how it functions in multiple systems and on multiple time-scales. This short introduction to the special issue on Language as Social Coordination situates works in this issue on the map of collective effort to formulate such a theory. It is also a reflection on the form of a theory of language that could integrate this variety of data and results.
In a view of language as part of embodied and situated cognition, reduction of its meaning to individual mental representations ceases to be sufficient. Language relies on and at the same time enables distributed cognition thus the key aspects of meaning are in the interaction of individuals within their world. This special issue is an outcome of a workshop, which gathered representatives of several disciplines in a common effort to find appropriate theoretical concepts for the characterization of those aspects of meaning that lie in the mutual constraining between language and collective practice. The emerging picture is complex, involving multimodal participatory construction of meaning in multiple systems and on multiple timescales. The Authors, however propose also several innovative methods to navigate this complexity. In this short introduction we aim at placing the works contained in this issue on a broader map of ongoing efforts to understand language as a proper part of human ecology.
In this paper, we show that early interaction can be seen as comprising of strands of coordinated activity on multiple levels and timescales. In tracing the development of such multilayered organization from an embodied and situated perspective, we underscore the role of the reliable presence of the structured environment, an enacted niche, supporting the segregation and integration of participatory interaction strands. This perspective allows us to study the development of social coordination not only in terms of development of individual skills but, crucially, as a change of participatory emergent patterns, a transformation in engagement. We illustrate this approach with some results from the collaborative research project on Early Semantic Development (EASE). Using qualitative microanalysis combined with quantitative dynamical time series analyses, we were able to demonstrate several layers of such organization: from local forms of coordination, such as basic informational coupling within a modality, and the emergence of specific social affordances, to more global co-action structures such as affect imbued ‘action arcs’ – dynamic action contours with a beginning, build-up, climax and resolution, co-enacted by participants. Pointing to future work, we underscore the potential of these global structures to contribute to the emergence of more complex interactions, such as composite activities within ‘pragmatic frames’, narratives, or language.