Archive for the ‘Psycholinguistics’ Category

Annals of word retrieval: in promiscuous positions

November 4, 2018

(Warning: embedded in this posting is a bit of — just barely euphemized — taboo vocabulary and the image of a hunky guy in his underwear.)

From Sim Aberson on 10/29, from WSVN, channel 7 in Miami FL:

BSO deputies arrest Dania Beach man in child porn case

Dania Beach, Fla. (WSVN) – Deputies have arrested a Dania Beach man on numerous child pornography charges.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested 66-year-old Roger Aiudi on Thursday following a months-long investigation by the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Investigators said Aiudi had 13 pornographic images of children and dozens of other images showing children in promiscuous positions.

Well yes, not promiscuous ‘having or characterized by many transient sexual relationships’, but provocative ‘arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately’ (NOAD definitions). This is a very likely sort of word retrieval error, since the words are similar phonologically (sharing the accent pattern WSWW and sharing the initial syllable /prǝ/) and morphologically (both ending in Adj-forming suffixes, –ous vs. –ive) as well as semantically.

(more…)

Attaching an 8-page essay at Wheaton College

September 30, 2018

Reported back on the 19th, a stunner of a 2017 headline about Wheaton College (IL) events dating back to 2016. First, the story from a source other than the one that produced the remarkable headline: from the Daily Mail (UK) by Jennifer Smith on 2/14/18: “Christian college ‘punished’ football players who ‘kidnapped, beat and sexually assaulted’ freshman in brutal hazing ritual by asking them to write an eight-page essay and complete community service”:

(more…)

The art class

May 23, 2018

Edward Steed cartoon in the May 21st New Yorker:

It’s about point of view (pov), especially as this reflects selective attention, an inclination to focus on certain things in the context over others.

(more…)

Housemates

May 19, 2017

The occasion is the discovery of more photo albums from the past, in this case the relatively recent past. One had photos of two friends who shared the Columbus OH house with Jacques and me in the 1990s: Philip Miller (during a postdoc year in linguistics at Ohio State) and Kim Darnell (while she was finishing her PhD in linguistics at Ohio State). Then there’s our last housemate before Jacques and I moved entirely to Californa, our bookfriend Ann Burlingham, who was working in Columbus bookstores at the time.

After teaching in (mostly) Lille, Philip is now in Paris. After years teaching in Atlanta, Kim is now in Palo Alto. And Ann has been in Perry NY (south of Rochester), where she owns and runs Burlingham Books, for some time now.

(more…)

Mentally flexible little kids

December 2, 2016

In the journal Psychological Science (11/9) last month: “Preschoolers Flexibly Adapt to Linguistic Input in a Noisy Channel” by Daniel Yurovsky (Univ. of Chicago) & Sarah Case & Michael C. Frank (Stanford Univ.):

Abstract: Because linguistic communication is inherently noisy and uncertain, adult language comprehenders integrate bottom-up cues from speech perception with top-down expectations about what speakers are likely to say. Further, in line with the predictions of ideal-observer models, past results have shown that adult comprehenders flexibly adapt how much they rely on these two kinds of cues in proportion to their changing reliability. Do children also show evidence of flexible, expectation-based language comprehension? We presented preschoolers with ambiguous utterances that could be interpreted in two different ways, depending on whether the children privileged perceptual input or top-down expectations. Across three experiments, we manipulated the reliability of both their perceptual input and their expectations about the speaker’s intended meaning. As predicted by noisy-channel models of speech processing, results showed that 4- and 5-year-old — but perhaps not younger — children flexibly adjusted their interpretations as cues changed in reliability.

Of course, there has to be some point at which kids develop those top-down expectations, which require socio-cultural experience. Everybody notices little kids’ deficiencies in socio-cultural knowledge, but it continues to amaze me how much stuff they manage to pick up.

Light before heavy

July 10, 2015

(Waiting to be posted since early June, sigh.)

The abstract for a thesis defense in Stanford Linguistics, on June 9th:

Consistency in Variation
by Robin Melnick

(more…)