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Perception, Processing and Storage of Subphonemic and Extralinguistic Features in Spoken Word Recognition - An Argument from Language Variation and Change
Recent research on speech perception and word recognition has shown that fine-grained sub-phonemic as well as speaker- and episode-specific characteristics of a speech signal are integrally connected with segmental (phonemic) information; they are all most probably processed in a non-distinct manner, and stored in the lexical memory. This view contrasts with the traditional approach holding that we operate on abstract phonemic representations extracted from a particular acoustic signal, without the need to process and store the multitude of its individual features. In the paper, I want to show that this turn towards the "particulars" of a speech event was in fact quite predictable, and the so-called traditional view would most probably have never been formulated if studies on language variation and language change-in-progress had been taken into account when constructing models of speech perception. In part one, I discuss briefly the traditional view ("abstract representations only"), its theoretical background, and outline some problems, internal to the speech perception theory, that the traditional view encounters. Part two will demonstrate that what we know about the implementation of sound changes has long made it possible to answer, once and for all, the question of integrated processing and storage of extralinguistic, phonemic and subphonemic characteristics of the speech signal.
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A model of syntactic development proposes that children’s very first word-combinations are already generated via productive rules that express in syntactic form the relation between a predicate word and its semantic argument. An alternative hypothesis is that they learn frozen chunks. In Study 1 we analyzed a large sample of young children’s early two-word sentences comprising of verbs with direct objects. A majority of objects were generated by pronouns but a third of children’s sentences used bare common nouns as objects. We checked parents’ twoword long sentences of verbs with objects and found almost no bare common nouns. Children cannot have copied sentences with bare noun objects from parents’ two-word long sentences as frozen chunks. In Study 2 we raised the possibility that children’s early sentences with bare nouns are rote-learned ‘telegraphic speech’, acquired as unanalyzed frozen chunks from longer input sentences due to perceptual problem to hear the unstressed determiners. To test this explanation, we tested the children’s speech corpus for evidence that they avoid determiners in their word-combinations. The results showed that they do not; in fact they generate very many determiner-common noun combinations as two-word utterances. The findings suggest that children produce their early word-combinations of the core-grammar type by a productive rule that maps the predicate-argument relations of verbs and their semantic arguments to headdependent syntax, and not as frozen word-combinations. Children mostly learn to use indexical expressions such as pronouns to express the variable semantic arguments of verbs as context dependent; they also employ bare common nouns to express specific values of the arguments. The earliest word-combinations demonstrate that children understand that syntax is built on the predicate-argument relations of words and use this insight to produce their early sentences.
Bilingualism and biculturalism are of growing importance in the world today and of increasing research interest in social sciences. Since the seminal paper by Hong et al. (2000), researchers have explored cognitive consequences of cultural and/or linguistic frame switching on cognitive functioning, mainly causal attributions (Benet-Martinez et al., 2002). It was repeatedly found that when primed by either Chinese or Americans symbols, bicultural Chinese-Americans would act as monoculturals on each side of their hyphenated identity. Paradoxical effects of conflicting bicultural identity were also reported (Benet-Martinez, Haritatos 2005). Boski (2008) extended the arguments built on a particular cultural mix of Chinese-Americans category and the analytic - holistic cognitive divide, to other groups and to axiological domains among Polish-Americans. In the current study, bilingual Tunisians of two generations were asked questions pertaining to values entrenched in their immediate cultural milieu and about those reflecting their personal convictions. Also, they answered questions about their readiness to act according to extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, as well as about conflicts between these two tendencies. Language (Arabic vs. French) was the key contrasting variable in our study. The findings clearly demonstrated that when using the French language, participants of both generations became not only less extrinsic but also less intrinsic in their motivations based on the local Arabic culture. However, the degree of conflict between these two motivational tendencies became stronger among participants using French as a tool for communication. This research demonstrates the power of cultural representations based on language and adds to the arguments falsifying naïve beliefs in “perfect translations”.
In adopting new theoretical advancements within linguistics and ecological psychology, this paper investigates humor from an ecological perspective in naturally occurring social interaction. In doing so, it is claimed that the notions of language as coordination and values-realizing can provide a new understanding of humor as it appears in human interaction. This argument will be unfolded as a rethinking of Wallace Chafe’s notion of nonseriousness (Chafe, 2007) that re-conceptualizes Chafe’s idea of a ‘mental state’ of nonseriousness in terms of interactional affordances and values realizing. This perspective is laid out in in-depth analyses of video recordings of two real-life examples from different settings: two siblings playing and a sequence from a couple-therapy session. It is claimed that both examples of interactional humor can be explained by re-conceptualizing humor as a distinct way of being together. Thus, the emergence of humor is enabled by a shift in the coordinative dynamics rather than by a transfer of semantic ‘content’ from a speaker to a hearer. Finally, humor is investigated as a temporal phenomenon integrating immediate ’here-and-now’ environmental features with socio-cultural expectations on a longer time-scale. In this way humor is viewed as a particular type of values-realizing activity that constrains our actions, re-directs our attention, and thereby enables us to act in a more playful and joyous manner.
This paper looks at how players of a card game create spatial arrangements of playing cards, and the cognitive and communicative effects of such arrangements. The data is an episode of two 8-year old children and a teacher playing the combinatorial card game Set, in the setting of the leisure-time center. The paper explores and explains how the visual resources of the game are used for externalizing information in terms of distributed cognition and epistemic actions. The paper also examines how other participants attend to the visual arrangements and self-directed talk of the active player. The argument is that externalizing information may be a strategy for reducing cognitive load for the individual problem-solver, but it is also a communicative behaviour affecting other participants and causing them to engage with the problem and the problem-solver. Seeing and hearing players who have succeeded in finding a set provide observers with rich learning opportunities, and increases their motivation to play the game. From the point of view of learning design, the consequence of this is that bystanders merit to be considered as the potential learners of a pedagogical game as much as the players themselves