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Flashcards in Understanding Words and Sentences Deck (27)
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What does the brain have?

An underlying system that it uses to categorise and organise words hierachally


What is a free morpheme?

A single word - can't be broken down any smaller to have a meaning
only one basic unit of meaning - non-decomposable

e.g. dog


What are bound morphemes?

Complex words - can't stand on its own

e.g. dogs


When do children learn morphology?

As the acquire language
the wugg test
even without seeing words before, can still combine them with what you know to produce the correct word


What is the mental lexicon?

2 ways that words are stored: storage vs computation

full listing - words must be looked up in the lexicon as whole words
full parsing - words must be decomposed into elements, words are broken down and stored into the smallest word with rules next to them


Are words stored as wholes or broken down?

Some are stored as wholes and some are broken down depending if the word is regular or irregular

idiosyncratic words must be stored e.g. find - found, there is no rule so just have to store found

fully transparent words - walk - walked, don't need to store it as recreate it by adding an ending


What is a dual route model?

Both direct lookup and computation used


What affects whether storage or computation is used?

Frequency of the word


Why does frequency of a word affect the mental lexicon?

If a complex word is common enough, it can eventually become lexicalised

e.g. home+work = homework (compound) - this eventually becomes its own word


What does lexicalisation mean?

Stored on its own as a word


How go test whether frequency aids lexicalisation?

Whole compound - homework
Constituents - home and work

if response time changes depending on whole compound - shows it has been lexicalised

if response time changes depending on constituent frequency - shows the constants are accessed during processing


Evidence to support frequency aiding lexicalisation

Eye tracking with compound word - gaze was influenced by all 3 frequencies, shows dual route

no escape from morphemes - all words are stored in pieces no matter how complex they are

interaction between whole compound and constituent frequencies - readers integrate multiple strategies, use both ways and which one gets there first, is the interpretation that you use


Why is evidence conflicting?

Different techniques:
Eye tracking
Reaction times

Different types of constructions:

Different influences:
Family size


What is language designed for?



What is a maximally expressive language?

Having a different word for each unique event, thing, person, action etc

advantage - minimal room for misunderstanding
disadvantage - overload with unnecessary detail - communication becomes impossible


What is an efficient language?

Principle of parsimony - avoid needlessly multiplying entities, most use out of the smallest number of rules


What is the principle of parsimony?

Using the most out of the smallest number of rules, units


What does too much efficiency lead too?

e.g. fluffle for small furry animals, efficient and only one word to remember but not clear what you are referring too


What is the balance between?

language relies on contextual, cultural, social knowledge to fill in the gaps


What is it called when you strike a balance?

Linguistic economy


Verb system: how do we know who is doing the action?

Option 1: conjugate - add morphemes to the verb to mark the subject - different ending for each person doing an action, diff in languages e.g. see, sees

Option 2 - word order


Word order in different languages

English - right, the subject always comes before the verb
e.g. 'I see the girl'

German: less rigid word order, verb is marked so the subject can move


What does word order do?

Minimise ambiguity but doesn't eradicate it

'I saw an elephant in my pjs' who was wearing the pjs?


How do you resolve ambiguity? (2 resolutions)

Garden path sentence - the default reading of the ambiguous section doesn't turn out to be the right reading by the end of the sentence, so go back and re read happens in headlines - crash blossoms

Clause order control and comma control, once you put a comma in, you can understand what a sentence means


What is the problem with comprehenders?

They can be insensitive to discrepancies between the interpretation they obtain and the one that is appropriate given the content of a sentence - people work on sentences till they reach a point where it subjectively makes sense to them and then they stop trying


Is linguistic economy any good?

Yes - it is a good enough interpretation


What is linguistic economy?

Intensifies the meaning of a word by adding stressors