- South Hall 3605
Speaker: Nicholas Lester (UCSB)
Topic: "The syntactic bits of nouns: How prior syntactic distributions affect comprehension, production, and acquisition"
Reception: All are invited to a reception following the talk
The syntactic bits of nouns:
How prior syntactic distributions affect comprehension, production, and acquisition
Nicholas A. Lester
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara
Usage-based linguistic theory argues that experience is the fundamental organizing principle of language. Linguistic representations are extracted from – and continuously tuned by – probabilistic features of language use. Much psycholinguistic evidence supports this argument, particularly in the domain of lexical processing. For example, how a word is distributed across its various lexical and morphological contexts influences how quickly it is recognized and produced in isolation. Fewer studies have explored how syntactic distributions affect lexical processing, and of these, even fewer have adopted comprehensive, abstract measurements of syntax. In this talk, I present several new information-theoretic tools for measuring the syntactic distributions of words based on Dependency Grammar. Further, I provide a new method for distinguishing syntactic and lexical contexts. I cover three main points: (i) how the underlying syntactic spaces are structured, (ii) how we can measure the information carried by these spaces, and (iii) how this information impacts lexical comprehension and production in adults, as well as lexical acquisition in young children.