Lecture1-Intro

Lecture1-Intro - Administrivia Psych 215L: Language...

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Unformatted text preview: Administrivia Psych 215L: Language Acquisition Lecture 1 Introduction to Language Acquisition Knowledge of Language It’s so natural for us to produce and comprehend language that we often don’t think about what an accomplishment this is. Or how we learned language in the first place. Class web page: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~lpearl/courses/psych215L_2011fall/ Accessible from EEE and my home page, as well. Contains overview, schedule, readings, course assignments, and grading policies. Important to access readings user name = langacq user password = models Jackendoff (1994) “For the moment, the main thing is to appreciate how hard a problem this is. The fact that we can talk (and cats can’ t) seems so obvious that it hardly bears mention. But just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy to explain. Think of another perfectly obvious, well-known phenomenon: the fact that metals turn red when you heat them. Why does this happen? It could be otherwise - they might just as well turn green or not change color at all. It’ s a simple phenomenon, easily observable, but the explanation isn’ t simple at all. It turns out to involve at the very least the theories of electromagnetic radiation and quantum mechanics, two of the more amazing intellectual advances in the past century. So it is, I want to suggest, with the human ability to use language.” About Language About Language Language is a complex system of knowledge that all children learn by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. Language is a complex system of knowledge that all children learn by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence structure, mapping from sentence structure to meaning, unspoken rules of conversation… It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence structure, mapping from sentence structure to meaning, unspoken rules of conversation… Stress pattern gob lins lins Individual sounds (in IPA) About Language gablInz About Language Language is a complex system of knowledge that all children learn by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. Language is a complex system of knowledge that all children learn by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence structure, mapping from sentence structure to meaning, unspoken rules of conversation… goblin (plural) = goblin + s gob lins lins gablInz It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence word structure, mapping from sentence goblins structure to meaning, unspoken rules of conversation… goblin (plural) = goblin + s gob lins lins gablInz About Language Language is a complex system of knowledge that all children learn by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. About Language Goblins like children. It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence sentence structure, mapping from sentence goblins structure to meaning, unspoken rules of conversation… goblin (plural) = goblin + s Language is a complex system of Don’t goblins like children? knowledge that all children learn Goblins like children. by listening to native speakers in their surrounding environment. It includes sound structure, word structure, word meaning, sentence structure, mapping from sentence goblins structure to meaning, unspoken unspoken rules of conversation… goblin (plural) = goblin + s gob lins lins gob lins lins gablInz Some Terminology Phonology: sounds and sound system of the language gablInz gob lins Lexicon: Words and associated knowledge (word forms, word meanings, etc.) goblins = gablInz Some Terminology Syntax: system for combining words into sentences Goblins like children. Pragmatics: knowledge of language use (not koblins) Morphology: system for combining units of meaning together (goblin + [plural] = goblins) Don’t goblins like children? = surprise if the answer is ‘ no’ (expectation is that the answer is ‘yes’) Use this question format to show expectation of a ‘ yes’ answer. So About That Universal Translator… Languages can differ significantly on how they instantiate this knowledge, particularly the structural knowledge. Automatic translation attempts (when structural differences strike!) demonstrate this (using http://translate.google.com) Kids Do Amazing Things Much of the linguistic system is already known by age 3. …when kids can’ t tie their own shoes or reliably recognize “4”. What kids are doing: extracting patterns and making generalizations from the surrounding data mostly without explicit instruction. Terminology: Patterns or “rules” of language = grammar grammar How do we know they’re not only imitating or being taught? Imitation certainly is useful for learning some aspects of language, such as learning that the sequence of sounds “cat” refers to a furry, purring pet. How do we know they’re not only imitating or being taught? Also, it turns out that children are bad at imitating sentences where they don’t know some of the words (so how could they learn those words by imitating them?): “The cat is hungry” becomes “Cat hungry.” However, children can’t learn how to understand and produce full sentences by imitating what they hear and repeating it word for word. Why not? One reason: Most sentences are novel – you understand and produce them on the fly, and may never have heard them before. In addition, children don’ t often repeat word-for-word what adults around them say. How do we know they’re not only imitating or being taught? How do we know they’re not only imitating or being taught? (From Martin Braine) Child: Want other one spoon, Daddy. Father: You mean, you want the other spoon. Child: Yes, I want other one spoon, please Daddy. Father: Can you say “the other spoon”? Child: Other…one…spoon. Father: Say “other”. Child: Other. Father: “Spoon.” Child: Spoon. Father: “Other spoon.” Child: Other…spoon. Now give me other one spoon? How do we know they’re not only imitating or being taught? It’s also unlikely children learn by being explicitly taught. This is because once we go beyond the most superficial things (like “cat” is a furry, purring pet), most of our knowledge is subconscious (more on this later). We know it – but we don’t know how we know it or why it’s so. What about children of immigrants, ex: Americans who move to Israel? “The adults often never feel comfortable with the language of the adopted country…speak with an accent…their children become fully fluent native speakers of the new language. Evidently the children have learned something their parents don’t know. So the parents couldn’ t have taught them.” Jackendoff (1994) A learning analogy: Set Here are some cards - they have some salient properties associated with them. A learning analogy: Set A learning analogy: Set Task: Find Sets. Task: Find Sets. Here’s one: Here’s another one: What generalizations might you make about Sets? Does this fit your generalization? A learning analogy: Set Task: Find Sets. Here’s another one: What about this one? A learning analogy: Set Task: Find Sets. Are these Sets? A learning analogy: Set A learning analogy: Set Task: Find Sets. Task: Find Sets. Are these Sets? Here are some more examples: Yes Yes No What generalization can you make now? A learning analogy: Set A learning analogy: Set Task: Find Sets. Task: Find Sets. Are these Sets? Are these Sets? No No Yes Can you guess the rule of Set? Can you guess the rule of Set? The Grammar of Set Yes Back to Kids & Language Children infer rules with this amount of complexity (and more!) from examples of language. And sometimes, even when there’s noise (misleading examples in the input). Noise Analogy: “All these are Sets.” noise No not really a set Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: Some examples from language: You know that… You know that… …In “She ate the peach while Sarah was reading”, she ≠ Sarah …strop is a possible word of English, while stvop isn’ t. but she can be Sarah in all of these: Sarah ate the peach while she was reading. While she was reading, Sarah ate the peach. While Sarah was reading, she ate the peach. Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: Some examples from language: You know that… You know that… …the ‘ s’ in ‘ cats’ sounds different from the ‘s’ in goblins … one structure doesn’t necessarily have the same interpretation. cats: ‘ s’ = /s/ goblins: ‘s’ = /z/ This is the rabbit I want to banish. =~ I want (me) to banish the rabbit. Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules This is the rabbit I want to disappear. =~ I want the rabbit to disappear. [NOT: I want the rabbit to banish (something).] [NOT: I want (me) to disappear the rabbit.] Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: Some examples from language: You know that… You know that… … contracted forms like “wanna” and “gonna” can’t always replace their respective full forms “want to” and “going to”. … contracted forms like “wanna” and “gonna” can’t always replace their respective full forms “want to” and “going to”. You get to choose who you will rescue. “Who do you want to r escue?” “Who do you wanna r escue?” You get to choose who you will rescue. “Who do you want to r escue?” “Who do you wanna r escue?” You get to choose who will do the rescuing. “Who do you want to d o the rescuing?” * “Who do you wanna do the rescuing?” You get to choose who will do the rescuing. “Who do you want to d o the rescuing?” * “Who do you wanna d o the rescuing?” Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: Some examples from language: You know that… You know that… … contracted forms like “wanna” and “gonna” can’t always replace their respective full forms “want to” and “going to”. … contracted forms like “wanna” and “gonna” can’t always replace their respective full forms “want to” and “going to”. You get to choose who you will rescue. “Who are you going to rescue?” “Who are you gonna rescue?” You get to choose who you will rescue. “Who are you going to rescue?” “Who are you gonna rescue?” “I ’m going to the witch’s lair to rescue her.” * “I ’m gonna the witch’s lair to rescue her. ” “I ’m going to the witch’s lair to rescue her.” * “I ’m gonna the witch’s lair to rescue her. ” Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: Some examples from language: You know that… You know that… …these two statements mean fairly different things: …these two statements mean fairly different things: “Not even ten years ago you could see Labyrinth in theaters.” “Not even ten years ago you could see Labyrinth in theaters.” Could you see Labyrinth in theaters within the last ten years? Could you see Labyrinth in theaters within the last ten years? Seeing L abyrinth time “Not even ten years ago could you see Labyrinth in theaters.” Could you see Labyrinth in theaters ten years ago? 10 years ago now “Not even ten years ago could you see Labyrinth in theaters.” Could you see Labyrinth in theaters ten years ago? Knowledge of Language & Hidden Rules Some examples from language: What’s being learned: Patterns or “rules” of language = grammar grammar You know that… …these two statements mean fairly different things: “Not even ten years ago you could see Labyrinth in theaters.” Could you see Labyrinth in theaters within the last ten years? Could not see L abyrinth at this time time 10 years ago now “Not even ten years ago could you see Labyrinth in theaters.” Could you see Labyrinth in theaters ten years ago? A distinction: Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Grammar Rules Prescriptive: what you have to be taught in school, what is prescribed by some higher “authority”. You don’ t learn this just by listening to native speakers talk. “Don’ t end a sentence with a preposition.” “ ‘ Ain’t’ is not a word.” A distinction: Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Grammar Rules Descriptive: what you pick up from being a native speaker of the language, how people actually speak in their day-to-day interactions. You don’t have to be explicitly taught to follow these rules. The dwarf is who Sarah first talked with. “You’ re horrible!” - Sarah “No, I ain’t - I’ m Hoggle!” - Hoggle Chomsky’s Arguments The argument for mental grammar First laid out in late 1950s and early 1960s The argument for Mental Grammar: The expressive variety of language use implies that a language user’s brain contains a set of unconscious grammatical principles. The argument for Innate/Prior Knowledge: The way children learn to talk implies that the human brain contains a genetically predetermined specialization for language. These two arguments lead to conclusion that learning language (English, French, Japanese, Zulu, Mohawk, …) is a complex interaction of nature and nurture The argument for mental grammar Other things Harry might say: “There’s a bird in the tree.” “A bird was in the tree yesterday.” “Are there birds in that tree?” “A bird might be in the tree.” “Birds like that tree.” “That tree looks like a bird.” These show off the expressive variety of language. (This differs from animal communication.) Harry tells Sam about a tree - this is a fairly involved process. Why rules? “The expressive variety of language use implies that a language user’ s brain contains unconscious grammatical principles” Jackendoff (1994) Example: Most sentences we have never seen or used before, but we can still understand them. Question: Can speakers simply memorize all the possible sentences of a language the way they learn vocabulary of their language? Not if there are an infinite number of them… Linguistic Infinity Hoggle has two jewels. Hoggle has three jewels. Hoggle has four jewels. … Hoggle has forty-three million and five jewels. … One (dumb) way to get infinity Linguistic Infinity Linguistic Creativity What lists include this sentence? “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom is as great.” - Sarah, Labyrinth Linguistic Infinity A more complex pattern: X Verbs that [sentence]. A more complex pattern: X Verbs that [sentence]. This shows recursion because “X Verbs that [sentence]” is itself a [sentence]. This shows recursion because “X Verbs that [sentence]” is itself a [sentence]. Sentence --> X Verbs that Sentence Sentence --> X Verbs that Sentence Sentence --> Hoggle thinks that [Sarah has Jareth’s attention]. --> Hoggle thinks that [Ludo knows that [Sarah has Jareth’s attention]]. --> Hoggle thinks that [Ludo knows that [Didymus suspects that [Sarah has Jareth’s attention]]]. Two more examples of recursion Sarah’s friend is a dwarf. Sarah’s friend’ s older brother is a dwarf. Sarah’s friend’ s older brother’s best friend is a dwarf. … Noun-Phrase --> Noun-Phrase’s Noun …is a dwarf Two more examples of recursion This is the castle where Jareth lives. This is the throne that’ s in the castle where Jareth lives. This is the goblin that sits next to the throne that’s in the castle where Jareth lives. This is the fairy that bites the goblin that sits next to thte throne that’s in the castle where Jareth lives… Sentence --> This is Noun-Phrase Noun-Phrase --> Noun-Phrase that Sentence The argument for mental grammar “In short, in order for us to be able to speak and understand novel sentences, we have to store in our heads not just the words of our language but also the patterns of sentences possible in our language. These patterns, in turn, describe not just patterns of words but also patterns of patterns. Linguists refer to these patterns as the rules of language stored in memory; they refer to the rules as the mental grammar of the language, or grammar for short.” - Jackendoff (1994) Possible objections to a mental rule set “Why should I believe I store a set of rules unconsciously in my mind? I just understand sentences because they make sense.” Possible objections to a mental rule set “Why should I believe I store a set of rules unconsciously in my mind? I just understand sentences because they make sense.” Possible objections to a mental rule set Why can we recognize patterns even when some of the words are unknown? ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe... But why do some sentences make sense and others don’t? Hoggle has two jewels. *Two Hoggle jewels has. Possible objections to an unconscious rule set “When I talk, the talk just comes out - I’m not consulting any rule set.” Possible objections to an unconscious rule set “When I talk, the talk just comes out - I’m not consulting any rule set.” Analogy: wiggling your fingers When you want to wiggle your fingers, you “just wiggle them”. But your finger-wiggling intention was turned into commands sent by your brain to your muscles, and you’re never conscious of the process unless something interferes with it. Nonetheless, there is a process, even if you’re not aware of it. The argument for prior knowledge Suppose we have mental grammars in our heads - how did they get there? The argument for prior knowledge Some other things that are hard to teach: interpretations Moira Joan “Many people immediately assume that the parents taught it. To be sure, parents often engage in teaching words to their kids: “What this, Amy? It’s a BIRDIE! Say ‘birdie,’ Amy!” But language learning can’ t entirely be the result of teaching words. For one thing, there are lots of words that it is hard to imagine parents teaching, notably those one can’t point to: “Say ‘from’, Amy!” “This is ANY, Amy!” - Jackendoff (1994) Joan appeared to Moira to like herself. Joan appeared to Moira to like her. Joan appealed to Moira to like herself. Joan appealed to Moira to like her. The argument for prior knowledge Some other things that are hard to teach: interpretations Moira Joan The argument for prior knowledge Some other things that are hard to teach: interpretations Moira Joan Joan appeared to Moira to like herself. M thinks J likes J Joan appeared to Moira to like her. M thinks J likes M Joan appealed to Moira to like herself. J wants M to like M Joan appealed to Moira to like her. J wants M to like J “How do we come to understand these sentences this way? It obviously depends somehow on the difference between ordinary pronouns such as “her” and reflexive pronouns such as “herself,” and also on the differences between the verbs “appear” and “appeal.” But how?… sure no one is ever taught contrasts like this by parents or teachers…” Jackendoff (1994) The argument for prior knowledge “…we can draw another conclusion about human nature: We can acquire unconscious patterns unconsciously, with little or no deliberate training.” - Jackendoff (1994) Paradox of Language Acquisition: “…an entire community of highly trained professionals, bringing to bear years of conscious attention and sharing of information, has been unable to duplicate the feat that every normal child accomplishes by the age of ten or so, unconsciously and unaided.” - Jackendoff (1994) Conclusion: “Children have a headstart on linguists” The big fuss about Universal Grammar “Suppose there is some aspect of language that children couldn’t possibly figure out from the evidence in the speech they hear around them. Then this aspect can’ t be learned; it has to fall under the innate part of language [UG].” - Jackendoff (1994) While the necessity of some kind of bias is generally granted by even the most ardent critics of the UG hypothesis, the nature of the necessary biases is the subject of considerable debate. - what cognitive objects the bias operates over: hypothesis space, perception of data, learning algorithm - whether the necessary bias is specific to language learning (i.e. domain-specific) or applies generally to any kind of cognitive learning (domain-general), and whether it is innate or can be derived from prior experience What prior knowledge is “…the claim is that all of us as children come to the task of language learning equipped with a body of innate knowledge pertaining to language. Using this knowledge, children can find patterns in the stream of language being beamed at them from the environment….Because this innate knowledge must be sufficient to construct a mental grammar for any of the languages of the world, linguists call it Universal Grammar or UG.” - Jackendoff (1994) ...
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