All of my papers can be found here. Click on a title to show the abstract. We like to make our experimental materials widely available, but they’re only slowly migrating to this page.
Although there are lots of papers here, they won’t tell you how they all fit together. That’s what the research pages on this site try to do.
Dissertations from our team can be found under individual research area pages, or in a full list here.
|129.||Margaret Kandel; Cassidy Wyatt; Colin Phillips: Agreement attraction error and timing profiles in continuous speech. In: Glossa Psycholinguistics, vol. 1, iss. 1, 2022. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Studies of agreement attraction in language production have shown that speakers systematically produce verb agreement errors in the presence of a local noun whose features differ from that of the agreement controller. However, in attraction experiments, these errors only ever occur in a subset of trials. In the present study, we applied a naturalistic scene-description paradigm to investigate how attraction affects the distribution of errors and the time-course of correctly inflected verbs. We conducted our experiment both in the lab and in an unsupervised web-based setting. The results were strikingly similar across the experimental settings for both the error and timing analyses, demonstrating that it is possible to conduct production experiments via the internet with a high level of similarity to those done in the lab. The experiments replicated the basic number attraction effect, though they elicited comparable interference from both singular and plural local nouns, challenging common assumptions about a strong plural markedness effect in attraction. We observed slowdowns before correct verbs that paralleled the distribution of agreement errors, suggesting that the process resulting in attraction can be active even when no error is produced. Our results are best captured by a model of agreement attraction in which errors arise at the point of computing agreement, rather than reflecting earlier errors made during initial encoding of the subject number.
|128.||Eun Kyoung Rosa Lee; Colin Phillips: Why non-native speakers sometimes outperform native speakers in agreement processing. In: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2022, (in press). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
It is well-known that native English speakers sometimes erroneously accept subject-verb agreement violations when there is a number-matching attractor (e.g., *The key to the cabinets were...). Whether bilinguals whose L1 lacks number agreement are also prone to such interference is unclear, given previous studies that report conflicting findings using different structures, participant groups, and experimental designs. To resolve the conflict, we examined highly proficient Korean-English bilinguals’ susceptibility to agreement attraction, comparing prepositional phrase (PP) modifiers and relative clause (RC) modifiers in a speeded acceptability judgment task and a speeded forced-choice comprehension task. The bilinguals’ judgment accuracy revealed attraction with RCs but not with PPs, while reaction times indicated attraction with both structures. The results therefore showed L2 agreement attraction in all measures, with the consistent exception of one measure, judgments for PPs. We argue that this supports an overall native-like agreement processing mechanism, augmented by an additional monitoring mechanism that filters explicit judgments in simple structures.
|127.||Margaret Kandel; Colin Phillips: Number attraction in verb and anaphor production. In: Forthcoming, (revision submitted 4/22). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Prior production research using the preamble-completion paradigm has elicited similar number attraction effects for both verbs and anaphora. However, this paradigm relies on comprehension and memory processes in addition to language production, making it difficult to assess the extent to which the observed attraction effects are caused by factors active during more natural production. In four production experiments, we compared number attraction effects on subject– verb and reflexive–antecedent agreement using a novel scene-description task in addition to a more traditional preamble elicitation paradigm. While the results from the preamble task align with prior findings, the more naturalistic scene-description task produced a contrast between the two dependency types, with robust verb attraction but very low rates of anaphor attraction. In addition to analyzing agreement error distributions, we also analyzed the production time-course of participant responses, finding timing effects that pattern with error distributions, even when no error is present. We discuss potential sources of variable susceptibility to number attraction, suggesting that differences may arise from the time-course of information processing across tasks and linguistic dependencies.
|126.||Colin Phillips; Mark Liberman: Introduction. In: Annual Review of Linguistics, vol. 8, pp. i-iv, 2022. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Explaining the mission of Annual Review of Linguistics, and announcing plans to become an open access journal in the near future
|125.||Iria de Dios Flores; Hanna Muller; Colin Phillips: The selectivity and interpretation of NPI illusions. In: Glossa Psycholinguistics, Forthcoming, (in revision). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This study investigates the illusory licensing of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs), a subtype of linguistic illusion whose behavior is informative for understanding real-time interpretation. We present the results from six experiments, including online/offline judgments and interpretation tasks, in an attempt to identify the processing error that underlies this brief deviation from the mental grammar. The results indicate that illusions are robust for intrusive quantificational negation such as "no authors" but reduced or absent for other forms of intrusive negation such as "didn't". We additionally find that although NPI illusion sentences are often interpreted as expressing a globally negative proposition, these interpretive errors are a consequence of the illusion, not a likely cause of it. These findings pose problems for current accounts which do not predict the error profile nor the interpretation patterns that we observe, including accounts that appeal to the erroneous retrieval of a non c-commanding negative item in memory (Vasishth et al. 2008), a pragmatic rescuing operation (Xiang et al. 2009) or the parser’s failure to assign an appropriate scope for negative quantifiers (Orth et al. 2020a). Alternatively, we argue for an account of NPI illusions that focuses on how sentences are interpreted in relation to scalar alternatives, invoking a style of grammatical explanation in the spirit of Fauconnier (1975a, 1975b), which emphasizes the critical role of the relation between the NPI and the context in which it appears.
|124.||Phoebe Gaston; Christian Brodbeck; Colin Phillips; Ellen Lau: Auditory word comprehension is less incremental in isolated words. In: Forthcoming, (submitted). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Speech input is often understood to trigger rapid and automatic activation of successively higher level representations for comprehension of words. Here we show evidence from magnetoencephalography that incremental processing of speech input is limited when words are heard in isolation as compared to continuous speech. This suggests a less unified and automatic process than is often assumed. We present evidence that neural effects of phoneme-by-phoneme lexical uncertainty, quantified by cohort entropy, occur in connected speech but not isolated words. In contrast, we find robust effects of phoneme probability, quantified by phoneme surprisal, during perception of both connected speech and isolated words. This dissociation rules out models of word recognition in which phoneme surprisal and cohort entropy are common
25 indicators of a unified process, even though these closely related information-theoretic measures
26 both arise from the probability distribution of wordforms consistent with the input. We propose
27 that phoneme surprisal effects reflect automatic access of a lower level of representation of the
28 auditory input (e.g., wordforms) while cohort entropy effects are task-sensitive, driven by a
29 competition process or a higher-level representation that is engaged late (or not at all) during the
30 processing of single words.
|123.||Nick Huang; Colin Phillips: When missing NPs make double center-embedding sentences acceptable. In: Glossa, 2021, (revised submission, to appear in Glossa). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A number of languages, such as English, exhibit a grammaticality illusion in ungrammatical double center-embedding sentences where a VP is missing. This article shows that the illusion generalizes to ungrammatical Mandarin Chinese double center-embedding sentences where the head NP of a relative clause is missing.
The Mandarin illusion raises interesting questions for existing accounts of center- embedding illusions. Mandarin missing NP sentences consist of three transitive verbs and only three NPs; the clear shortage of NPs should affect the thematic relations built for such sentences, with potential consequences for acceptability. We explore these issues with acceptability judgment experiments. We show that these illusory sentences receive rather distinct thematic interpretations compared to their better-studied missing VP counterparts, in ways not predicted by structural forgetting or interference accounts. A computational simulation further shows that the Mandarin illusion is problematic for accounts that attribute cross-linguistic variation in the illusion to differences in language experience.
To capture cross-linguistic variation, we build on existing interference accounts, in which the parser mis-attaches a verb or NP to the main clause instead of a relative clause. We supplement this approach with a repair process, in which the parser tracks thematic relations, repairing them where necessary so no verb or noun is “orphaned.” We suggest that the illusion of grammaticality arises when the parser can establish thematic relations between all verbs and nouns. This interference-and-repair approach provides a unified analysis of the missing VP and missing NP illusions, while accounting for the observed difference in thematic relations.
|122.||Phoebe Gaston; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: How does(n't) syntactic context guide auditory word recognition?. In: 2020, (submitted). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Better understanding of word recognition requires a detailed account of how top-down and bottom-up information are integrated. In this paper, we use a combination of modeling and experimental work to investigate the mechanism by which expectations from syntactic context influence the processing of perceptual input during word recognition. The distinction between facilitatory and inhibitory mechanisms for the syntactic category constraint is an important aspect of this problem that has previously been underspecified. Syntactic category is also a relatively simple test case for the issue of context in other domains, and our findings demonstrate an approach that can be scaled up to more complex contextual constraints. We first report simulations in jTRACE that predict that the speed with which changes in lexical activation can be observed in dependent measures should depend on the composition of the set of response candidates allowed by the task. This points to an explanation for conflicts that have occurred between different methods regarding the existence and timing of syntactic constraints on lexical cohort competition, and it is relevant for the design and interpretation of experiments involving cohort competition more broadly. These insights informed a new design for the visual world paradigm that distinguishes facilitatory and inhibitory mechanisms and ensures that activation of words from the wrong syntactic category should be detectable if it is occurring. We demonstrate how failure to ensure this could have obscured such activation in previous work, leading to the appearance of an inhibitory constraint. We find that wrong-category competition does occur, a result that is incompatible with an inhibitory syntactic category constraint.
|121.||Shota Momma; Julia Buffinton; L. Robert Slevc; Colin Phillips: Syntactic category constraints lexical competition in speaking. In: Cognition, vol. 197, pp. 104183, 2020. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Saying a word requires accessing an appropriate representation of the word among tens of thousands of words in speakers’ mental dictionaries, many of which are similar to each other. Lexical access requires overcoming competition from these similar words, and competition is likely even greater when saying a sentence because speakers must rapidly access multiple words in a specifically-ordered sequence, while each accessed word creates an additional source of interference for the others. Yet healthy adult native speakers articulate sentences mostly fluently and relatively effortlessly. The current article provides experimental evidence that syntactic category plays a key role in limiting competition during lexical access in speaking. We introduce a novel sentence-picture interference SPI paradigm, and show that nouns do not compete with verbs and verbs do not compete with nouns in sentence production. Words that are conceptually and phonologically identical, such as running (noun) and running (verb), lead to interference only when they match in syntactic category. Based on this finding, we argue that lexical competition in production is limited by syntactic category. We discuss the potential underlying mechanism and how it may help us to speak relatively fluently.
|120.||Colin Phillips; Phoebe Gaston; Nick Huang; Hanna Muller: Theories all the way down: remarks on "theoretical" and "experimental" linguistics. In: 2019, (To appear in Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Syntax. G. Goodall, ed.). (Type: Book Chapter | | | )|
It is common in linguistics to draw a contrast between “theoretical” and “experimental” research, following terminology used in other fields of science. Researchers who pursue experimental research are often asked about the theoretical consequences of their work. Such questions generally equate “theoretical” with theories at a specific high level of abstraction, guided by the questions of traditional linguistic theory. These theories focus on the structural representation of sentences in terms of discrete units, without regard to order, time, finer-grained memory encoding, or the neural circuitry that supports linguistic computation. But there is little need for the high level descriptions to have privileged status. There are interesting theoretical questions at all levels of analysis. A common experience in our group’s work is that we embark on a project guided by its apparent relevance to high-level theoretical debates. We then discover that this relevance depends on linking assumptions that are not as straightforward as we initially thought. And then we discover new theoretical questions at lower levels of analysis that we had not even been aware of previously. We illustrate this using examples from many different lines of experimental research on syntactic issues.
|119.||Phoebe Gaston; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: Syntactic category does not inhibit lexical competition. In: Proceedings of Mental Lexicon 2018, 2019. (Type: Inproceedings | | | )|
In this study we address whether contextual constraints impact word recognition in the same way that bottom-up phonological information does. Standard models of word recognition assume that cohort competition arises when auditory input increases the activation of word-forms with matching phonological features. Previous work on syntactic category effects has focused on how quickly syntactic context might constrain lexical competition, but findings have varied. In addition, no study has been able to distinguish between an inhibitory and a facilitatory mechanism for the constraint. We examine this with a novel design for the visual world paradigm that allows us to make this distinction. We find phonological competition from syntactically inappropriate candidates, in a pattern consistent with a facilitatory rather than an inhibitory mechanism for contextual constraint. This suggests that the constraint operates analogously to and cannot override bottom-up auditory input.
|118.||Lara Ehrenhofer; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips : A possible cure for "N400 blindness" to role reversal anomalies in sentence comprehension. In: Forthcoming, (Submitted to Neuropsychologia). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Human comprehenders rapidly and incrementally integrate linguistic information into
predictions about upcoming sentence material. Though rare, cases where information does not
immediately impact predictions provide important insights into predictive mechanisms. One
wellstudied case is argument role information, which many studies have shown not to
immediately impact the N400, an ERP index of prediction, when argument roles on nouns are
reversed from their canonical order. In the current study, our aim was to determine whether verbs
are necessary for argument role information to rapidly impact prediction. Instead, we
serendipitously discovered a set of rolereversal materials that yield the immediate effects of
argument roles on predictions that have so far been largely absent in the literature. In a followup
experiment, we confirmed our results, again demonstrating an immediate effect of argument role
reversal on the N400 in our materials, as well as replicating the absence of N400 effects with the
original materials from one of the prior studies. Our results and analyses suggest a new avenue of
research into rolereversal anomalies, exploring finegrained nuance in the contextual properties
that determine whether argument position has an immediate impact on prediction.
|117.||Hanna Muller; Colin Phillips: Negative polarity illusions. In: Viviane Deprez, Maria Teresa Espinal (Ed.): vol. Oxford Handbook of Negation, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming. (Type: Book Chapter | | | )|
Although decades of research have illuminated the licensing requirements, both syntactic and semantic, of negative polarity items, the matter of how these licensing requirements are satisfied in real time, as a sentence is being processed, remains an ill-understood problem. Grammatical illusions - cases where native speakers, as they comprehend an ungrammatical sentence, experience a fleeting perception of acceptability - offer a window into online computations like NPI licensing. This chapter reviews the findings on negative polarity illusions, their parallels (and, in some cases, the lack of parallels) with other grammaticality illusions, and the implications of this line of research for understanding the incremental processing of negative sentences as well as negative polarity phenomena more broadly.
|116.||Allyson Ettinger; Ahmed Elgohary; Colin Phillips; Philip Resnik: Assessing composition in sentence vector representations. In: Proceedings of COLING 2018, 2018. (Type: Inproceedings | | | )|
An important component of achieving language understanding is mastering the composition of sentence meaning, but an immediate challenge to solving this problem is the opacity of sentence vector representations produced by current neural sentence composition models. We present a method to address this challenge, developing tasks that directly target compositional meaning information in sentence vector representations with a high degree of precision and control. To enable the creation of these controlled tasks, we introduce a specialized sentence generation system that produces large, annotated sentence sets meeting specified syntactic, semantic and lexical constraints. We describe the details of the method and generation system, and then present results of experiments applying our method to probe for compositional information in embeddings from a number of existing sentence composition models. We find that the method is able to extract useful information about the differing capacities of these models, and we discuss the implications of our results with respect to these systems’ capturing of sentence information. We make available for public use the datasets used for these experiments, as well as the generation system.
|115.||Alexis Wellwood; Roumyana Pancheva; Valentine Hacquard; Colin Phillips: The anatomy of a comparative illusion. In: Journal of Semantics, 2018, (in press). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Comparative constructions like "More people have been to Russia than I have" are generally perceived as acceptable and meaningful by native speakers of English; yet, upon closer reflection, they are judged to be incoherent. This mismatch between initial perception and more considered judgment challenges the idea that we perceive sentences veridically, and interpret them fully; it is thus potentially revealing about the relationship between grammar and language processing. This paper presents the first detailed investigation of these so-called ‘comparative illusions’. We test four hypotheses about their source: a shallow syntactic parser, some type of repair by ellipsis, an incorrectly-resolved lexical ambiguity, or a persistent event comparison interpretation. Two formal acceptability studies show that speakers are most prone to the illusion when the comparative supports an event comparison reading. A verbatim recall task tests and finds evidence for such construals in speakers’ recollections of the sentences. We suggest that this reflects speakers’ entertaining an interpretation that is initially consistent with the sentence, but failing to notice when this interpretation becomes unavailable at the than-clause. In particular, semantic knowledge blinds people to an illicit operator-variable configuration in the syntax. Rather than illustrating processing in the absence of grammatical analysis, comparative illusions thus underscore the importance of syntactic and semantic rules in sentence processing.
|114.||Wing Yee Chow; Ellen Lau; Suiping Wang; Colin Phillips: Wait a second! Delayed impact of argument roles on on-line verb prediction. In: Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 2018. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Comprehenders can use rich contextual information to anticipate upcoming input on the fly, but recent findings suggest that salient information about argument roles may not impact verb prediction. We took advantage of the word order properties of Mandarin Chinese to examine the time course with which argument role information impacts verb prediction. We isolated the contribution of argument role information by manipulating the order of pre-verbal noun phrase arguments while holding lexical information constant, and we examined its effects on accessing the verb in long-term semantic memory by measuring the amplitude of the N400 component. Experiment 1 showed when the verb appeared immediately after its arguments, even strongly constraining argument role information failed to modulate the N400 response to the verb. An N400 effect emerged in Experiment 2 when the verb appeared at a greater delay. Experiment 3 corroborated the contrast between the first two experiments through a within-participants manipulation of the time interval between the arguments and the verb, by varying the position of an adverbial phrase. These results suggest time is a key factor governing how diverse contextual information contributes to predictions. Here argument role information is shown to impact verb prediction, but its effect is not immediate.
|113.||Shota Momma; L. Robert Slevc; Colin Phillips: Unaccusativity in sentence production. In: Linguistic Inquiry, vol. 49, pp. 181-194, 2018. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|112.||Shota Momma; Colin Phillips: The relationship between parsing and generation. In: Annual Review of Linguistics, vol. 4, pp. 233-254, Forthcoming. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Humans use their linguistic knowledge in at least two ways. On one hand, they use their linguistic knowledge to convey what they mean to others or to themselves. On the other hand, they use their linguistic knowledge to understand what others say or they themselves say. In either case, they must assemble the syntactic structures of sentences in a systematic fashion, in accordance with the grammar of their language. In this article, we advance the view that a single mechanism for building sentence structure may be sufficient for structure building in comprehension and production. We argue that differing behaviors reduce to differences in the available information in either task. This view has broad implications for the architecture of the human language system, and provides a useful framework for integrating largely independent research programs on comprehension and production by both constraining the models and uncovering new questions that can drive further research.
|111.||Dave Kush, Jeffrey Lidz, Colin Phillips: Looking forwards and backwards: the real-time processing of Strong and Weak Crossover. In: Glossa: A journal of general linguistics, vol. 2, no. 70, 2017, (29pp). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
We investigated the processing of pronouns in Strong and Weak Crossover constructions as a means of probing the extent to which the incremental parser can use syntactic information to guide antecedent retrieval. In Experiment 1 we show that the parser accesses a displaced wh-phrase as an antecedent for a pronoun when no grammatical constraints prohibit binding, but the parser ignores the same wh-phrase when it stands in a Strong Crossover relation to the pronoun. These results are consistent with two possibilities. First, the parser could apply Principle C at antecedent retrieval to exclude the wh-phrase on the basis of the c-command relation between its gap and the pronoun. Alternatively, retrieval might ignore any phrases that do not occupy an Argument position. Experiment 2 distinguished between these two possibilities by testing antecedent retrieval under Weak Crossover. In Weak Crossover binding of the pronoun is ruled out by the argument condition, but not Principle C. The results of Experiment 2 indicate that antecedent retrieval accesses matching wh-phrases in Weak Crossover configurations. On the basis of these findings we conclude that the parser can make rapid use of Principle C and c-command information to constrain retrieval. We discuss how our results support a view of antecedent retrieval that integrates inferences made over unseen syntactic structure into constraints on backward-looking processes like memory retrieval.
|110.||Emily Atkinson; Matthew W. Wagers; Jeffrey Lidz; Colin Phillips; Akira Omaki: Developing incrementality in filler-gap dependency processing. In: Cognition, 2017, (revised version to appear). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Much work has demonstrated that children are able to use bottom-up linguistic cues to incrementally interpret sentences, but there is little understanding of the extent to which children’s comprehension mechanisms are guided by top-down linguistic information that can be learned from distributional regularities in the input. Using a visual world eye tracking experiment and a corpus analysis, the current study investigates whether 5- and 6-year-old children incrementally assign interpretations to temporarily ambiguous wh-questions like What was Emily eating the cake with __?. In the visual world eye-tracking experiment, 6-year-old children showed an adult-like bias to incrementally complete the filler-gap dependency at the earliest position in the sentence (i.e., verb), while no evidence for this bias was found in 5-year-olds. These results suggest that adult-like incrementality in filler-gap dependency processing begins to emerge around age 6. The corpus analysis of filler-gap dependency structures in adult corpora and child corpora demonstrate that the distributional regularities in either corpora are equally in favor of early, incremental completion of filler-gap dependencies, suggesting that the distributional information in the input is either not relevant to this incremental bias, or that 5-year-old children are somehow unable to recruit this information in real-time comprehension. Taken together, these findings shed light on the origin of incremental processing bias in filler-gap dependency processing, as well as on the role of language experience in the development of incremental sentence processing mechanisms.
|109.||Phoebe Gaston, Nick Huang, Colin Phillips: The logic of syntactic priming and acceptability judgments. In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Forthcoming, (commentary on target article by Branigan and Pickering). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A critical flaw in Branigan and Pickering’s advocacy of structural priming is the absence of a theory of priming. This undermines their claims about the value of priming as a methodology. In contrast, acceptability judgments enable clearer inferences about structure. It is important to engage thoroughly with the logic behind different structural diagnostics.
|108.||Claudia Felser, Colin Phillips, Matthew Wagers: Editorial: Encoding and navigating linguistic representations in memory. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 8, pp. 164, 2017. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
|107.||Dan Parker; Colin Phillips: Reflexive attraction in comprehension is selective. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 94, pp. 272-290, 2017. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Many studies have shown that attraction effects are consistently found for linguistic dependencies like subject-verb agreement, e.g., *The key to the cabinets are on the table. However, not all dependencies are equally susceptible to attraction. A parade case involves reflexive-antecedent dependencies, which rarely show attraction effects. The contrast between agreement and reflexives with respect to attraction has motivated various proposals regarding the memory architecture for the parser, including the use of qualitatively different access mechanisms or the selective use of morphological features as retrieval cues for different dependencies. In this paper, we show how to systematically induce attraction effects for reflexives in three eye-tracking experiments. Furthermore, we show based on computational simulations that it is possible to derive both the presence and absence of reflexive attraction from the same retrieval mechanism, based on the ACT-R architecture. We then propose an account of why agreement and reflexives are differentially susceptible to attraction, based on the predictability of the dependency.
|106.||Sol Lago; Shayne Sloggett; Zoe Schlueter; Wing Yee Chow; Alexander Williams; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: Coreference and antecedent representation across languages. In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2017. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Previous studies have shown that speakers of languages such as German, Spanish and French reactivate the syntactic gender of the antecedent of a pronoun in order to license gender agreement. As syntactic gender information is assumed to be stored in the lexicon, this has motivated the claim that pronouns in these languages reactivate the lexical entry of their antecedent noun. In contrast, in languages without syntactic gender such as English, lexical retrieval might be unnecessary. Using eye-tracking while reading, we examined whether antecedent retrieval involves rapid semantic and phonological reactivation. We compared German and English. In German, we found early sensitivity to the semantic, but not to the phonological features of the pronoun’s antecedent. In English, readers did not immediately show either semantic or phonological effects specific to coreference. We propose that early semantic facilitation arises due to syntactic gender reactivation, and that antecedent retrieval may vary cross-linguistically depending on the type of information relevant to the grammar of each language.
|105.||Dan Parker; Colin Phillips: Negative polarity illusions and the format of hierarchical encodings in memory. In: Cognition, vol. 157, pp. 321-339, 2016. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Linguistic illusions have provided valuable insights into how we mentally navigate complex representations in memory during language comprehension. Two notable cases involve illusory licensing of agreement and negative polarity items (NPIs), where comprehenders fleetingly accept sentences with unlicensed agreement or an unlicensed NPI, but judge those same sentences as unacceptable after more reflection. Existing accounts have argued that illusions are a consequence of faulty memory access processes, and make the additional assumption that the encoding of the sentence remains fixed over time. This paper challenges the predictions made by these accounts, which assume that illusions should generalize to a broader set of structural environments and a wider range of syntactic and semantic phenomena. We show across seven reading-time and acceptability judgment experiments that NPI illusions can be reliably switched “on” and “off”, depending on the amount of time from when the potential licensor is processed until the NPI is encountered. But we also find that the same profile does not extend to agreement illusions. This contrast suggests that the mechanisms responsible for switching the NPI illusion on and off are not shared across all illusions. We argue that the contrast reflects changes over time in the encoding of the semantic/pragmatic representations that can license NPIs. Just as optical illusions have been informative about the visual system, selective linguistic illusions are informative not only about the nature of the access mechanisms, but also about the nature of the encoding mechanisms.
|104.||Dustin Alfonso Chacón; Mashrur Imtiaz; Shirsho Dasgupta; Sikder Monoare Murshed; Mina Dan; Colin Phillips: Locality and word order in active dependency formation in Bangla. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 7, pp. 1235, 2016. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Research on filler-gap dependencies has revealed that there are constraints on both possible and grammatical gap sites, and that real-time sentence processing is sensitive to these constraints. Additionally, much of the evidence used to establish the real-time construction of filler-gap dependencies relies on indirect cues, such as measuring sensitivity to a disrupted resolution site. However, neither the mechanisms that select preferred gap sites nor the mechanisms used to detect whether these preferences are met are well understood. In this paper, we report on three experiments in Bangla, a language in which gaps may occur in either a preverbal embedded clause or a postverbal embedded clause. This word order variation allows us to manipulate whether the first gap linearly available is contained in the same clause as the filler, which allows us to dissociate structural locality from linear locality. In Experiment 1, an untimed ambiguity resolution task, we show that there is a global bias to resolve a filler-gap dependency with the first gap linearly available, regardless of structural hierarchy. In Experiments 2 and 3, which use the filled-gap paradigm, we find sensitivity to disruption only when the blocked gap site is both structurally and linearly local, i.e., the filler and the gap site are contained in the same clause. This suggests that the comprehender may not show sensitivity to the disruption of all preferred gap resolutions.
|103.||Anton Malko; Lara Ehrenhofer; Colin Phillips: Theories and frameworks in second language processing. In: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2016, (in press; brief commentary on target article by Ian Cunnings: "Parsing and working memory in bilingual sentence processing"). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Analyzing L2 sentence processing in terms of cue-based memory retrieval is promising. But this useful general framework has yet to become a specific theory of L1-L2 differences.
|102.||Shota Momma; L. Robert Slevc; Colin Phillips: The timing of verb selection in Japanese sentence production. In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 42, pp. 813-824, 2016. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Many influential models of sentence production (e.g., Bock & Levelt, 1994; Kempen & Hoenkamp, 1987; Levelt, 1989) emphasize the central role of verbs in structural encoding, and thus predict that verbs should be selected early in sentence formulation, possibly even before the phonological encoding of the first constituent (Ferreira, 2000). However, the most direct experimental test of this hypothesis (Schriefers, Teruel & Meinhausen, 1998) found no evidence for advance verb selection in verb-final (SV and SOV) utterances in German. The current report, based on a multi-word picture-word interference task (Meyer, 1996; Schriefers et al., 1998) demonstrates that in Japanese, a strongly verb-final language, verbs are indeed planned in advance, but selectively before object noun articulation and not before subject noun articulation. This contrasting pattern of advance verb selection may reconcile the motivation for advance verb selection in structural encoding while explaining the previous failures to demonstrate it. Potential mechanisms that might underlie this contrasting pattern of advance verb selection are discussed.
|101.||Wing Yee Chow; Shota Momma; Cybelle Smith; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: Prediction as memory retrieval: timing and mechanisms. In: Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 2016, (in press). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
In our target article (Chow, Smith, Lau, & Phillips, 2015) we investigated the predictions that comprehenders initially make about an upcoming verb as they read. We studied the impacts of the lexical meaning and structural roles of preverbal arguments on comprehenders’ verb predictions by examining their effects on the N400 ERP response at the verb. We provided evidence that comprehenders’ initial verb predictions are sensitive to the arguments’ lexical meaning but not their structural roles. This is compatible with a number of other recent findings using electrophysiology and other time-sensitive measures of prediction. The commentaries offered alternative accounts of our findings (Kim, Oines, & Sikos, 2015; Kuperberg, 2016). In this article we synthesize findings from our target article with other studies that show that verb predictions are sensitive to the arguments’ structural roles if more time is available for prediction. Our first main contention is that prediction involves computations that may require differing amounts of time. Our second main contention is that prediction can be usefully framed as a memory retrieval problem, linking prediction to independently well understood memory mechanisms in language processing. We suggest that the delayed impact of argument roles on verb predictions may reflect a mismatch between the format of linguistic cues and target event memories. We clarify points of agreement and disagreement with the commentaries, and give reasons why memory access mechanisms are better able to explain the time course of prediction.
|100.||Allyson Ettinger, Naomi H. Feldman, Philip Resnik, Colin Phillips: Modeling N400 amplitude using vector space models of word representation. Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society, 2016, (submitted). (Type: Conference | | | )|
We use a vector space model (VSM) to simulate semantic relatedness effects in sentence processing, and use this connection to predict N400 amplitude in an ERP study by Federmeier and Kutas (1999). We find that the VSM-based model is able to capture key elements of the authors’ manipulations and results, accounting for aspects of the results that are unexplained by cloze probability. This demonstration provides a proof of concept for use of VSMs in modeling the particular context representations and corresponding facilitation processes that seem to influence non-cloze-like behavior in the N400.
|99.||Colin Phillips; Lara Ehrenhofer: The role of language processing in language acquisition. In: Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 409-453, 2015, (target article with 17 commentaries & response). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Language processing research is changing in two ways that should make it more relevant to the study of grammatical learning. First, grammatical phenomena are re-entering the psycholinguistic fray, and we have learned a lot in recent years about the real-time deployment of grammatical knowledge. Second, psycholinguistics is reaching more diverse populations, leading to much research on language processing in child and adult learners. We discuss three ways that language processing can be used to understand language acquisition. Level 1 approaches (“Processing in learners”) explore well-known phenomena from the adult psycholinguistic literature and document how they play out in learner populations (child learners, adult learners, bilinguals). Level 2 approaches (“Learning effects as processing effects”) use insights from adult psycholinguistics to understand the language proficiency of learners. We argue that a rich body of findings that have been attributed to the grammatical development of anaphora should instead be attributed to limitations in the learner’s language processing system. Level 3 approaches (“Explaining learning via processing”) use language processing to understand what it takes to successfully master the grammar of a language, and why different learner groups are more or less successful. We examine whether language processing may explain why some grammatical phenomena are mastered late in children but not in adult learners. We discuss the idea that children’s language learning prowess is directly caused by their processing limitations (“less is more”: Newport, 1990). We conclude that the idea is unlikely to be correct in its original form, but that a variant of the idea has some promise (“less is eventually more”). We lay out key research questions that need to be addressed in order to resolve the issues addressed in the paper.
|98.||Colin Phillips; Lara Ehrenhofer: Learning obscure and obvious properties of languages. In: Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 545-555, 2015, (response to 17 commentaries on target article "The role of language processing in language acquisition"). (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|97.||Wing Yee Chow; Cybelle Smith; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: A 'bag-of-arguments' mechanism for initial verb predictions. In: Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 2015. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Previous studies have shown that comprehenders use rich contextual information to anticipate upcoming input on the fly, but less is known about how comprehenders integrate different sources of information to generate predictions in real time. The current study examines the time course with which the lexical meaning and structural roles of preverbal arguments impact comprehenders’ verb predictions in two event-related potential (ERP) experiments that use the N400 amplitude as a measure of online predictability. Experiment 1 showed that the N400 was sensitive to the cloze probability of a verb when one of the arguments was substituted (e.g., “The superintendent overheard which tenant/realtor the landlord had evicted...”), but not when the roles of the arguments were simply swapped (e.g., “The restaurant owner forgot which customer/waitress the waitress/customer had served ...”). Experiment 2 showed that argument substitution elicited an N400 effect even when the original argument appeared elsewhere in the sentence, indicating that verb predictions are specifically driven by the arguments in the same clause as the verb, rather than by a simple ‘bag-of-words’ mechanism. We propose that initial verb predictions rely on a ‘bag-of- arguments’ mechanism, which specifically relies on the lexical meaning, but not the structural roles, of the arguments in a clause.
|96.||Dan Parker; Sol Lago; Colin Phillips: Interference in the processing of adjunct control. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6, no. 1346, pp. 1-13, 2015. (Type: Journal Article | | | | )|
Recent research on the memory operations used in language comprehension has revealed a selective profile of interference effects during memory retrieval. Dependencies such as subject-verb agreement show strong facilitatory interference effects from structurally inappropriate but feature-matching distractors, leading to illusions of grammaticality (Dillon, Mishler, Sloggett, & Phillips, 2013; Gillespie & Pearlmutter, 2011; Pearlmutter, Garnsey, & Bock, 1999). In contrast, dependencies involving reflexive anaphors are generally immune to interference effects (Dillon et al., 2013; Sturt, 2003; Xiang, Dillon, & Phillips, 2009). This contrast has led to the proposal that all anaphors that are subject to structural constraints are immune to facilitatory interference. Here we use an animacy manipulation to examine whether adjunct control dependencies, which involve an interpreted anaphoric relation between a null subject and its licensor, are also immune to facilitatory interference effects. Our results show reliable facilitatory interference in the processing of adjunct control dependencies, which challenges the generalization that anaphoric dependencies as a class are immune to such effects. To account for the contrast between adjunct control and reflexive dependencies, we suggest that variability within anaphora could reflect either an inherent primacy of animacy cues in retrieval processes, or differential degrees of match between potential licensors and the retrieval probe.
|95.||Dustin Alfonso Chacón; Shota Momma; Colin Phillips: Linguistic representations and memory architectures: The devil is in the details. In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2015, (in press, commentary on target article by Christiansen & Chater). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Attempts to explain linguistic phenomena as consequences of memory constraints require detailed specification of linguistic representations and memory architectures alike. We discuss examples of supposed locality biases in language comprehension and production, and their link to memory constraints. Findings do not generally favor Christiansen and Chater’s approach. We discuss connections to debates that stretch back to the 19th century.
|94.||Akira Omaki; Ellen Lau; Imogen Davidson White; Myles Dakan; Aaron Apple; Colin Phillips: Hyper-active gap filling. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6:384, 2015, (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00384). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Much work has demonstrated that speakers of verb-final languages are able to construct rich syntactic representations in advance of verb information. This may reflect general architectural properties of the language processor, or it may only reflect a language-specific adaptation to the demands of verb-finality. The present study addresses this issue by examining whether speakers of a verb-medial language (English) wait to consult verb transitivity information before constructing filler-gap dependencies, where internal arguments are fronted and hence precede the verb. This configuration makes it possible to investigate whether the parser actively makes representational commitments on the gap position before verb transitivity information becomes available. A key prediction of the view that rich pre-verbal structure-building is a general architectural property is that speakers of verb-medial languages should predictively construct dependencies in advance of verb transitivity information, and therefore that disruption should be observed when the verb has intransitive subcategorization frames that are incompatible with the predicted structure. In three reading experiments (self-paced and eye-tracking) that manipulated verb transitivity, we found evidence for reading disruption when the verb was intransitive, although no such reading difficulty was observed when the critical verb was embedded inside a syntactic island structure, which blocks filler-gap dependency completion. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that in English, as in verb-final languages, information from preverbal NPs is sufficient to trigger active dependency completion without having access to verb transitivity information.
|93.||Dave Kush; Jeffrey Lidz; Colin Phillips: Relation-sensitive retrieval: evidence from bound variable pronouns. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 82, pp. 18-40, 2015. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Formal grammatical theories make extensive use of syntactic relations (e.g. c-command, Reinhart, 1983) in the description of constraints on antecedent-anaphor dependencies. Recent research has motivated a model of processing that exploits a cue-based retrieval mechanism in content-addressable memory (e.g. Lewis, Vasishth, & Van Dyke, 2006) in which item-to-item syntactic relations such as c-command are difficult to use as retrieval cues. As such, the c-command constraints of formal grammars are predicted to be poorly implemented by the retrieval mechanism. We tested whether memory access mechanisms are able to exploit relational information by investigating the processing of bound variable pronouns, a form of anaphoric dependency that imposes a c-command restriction on antecedent-pronoun relations. A quantificational NP (QP, e.g., no janitor) must c-command a pronoun in order to bind it. We contrasted the retrieval of QPs with the retrieval of referential NPs (e.g. the janitor), which can co-refer with a pronoun in the absence of c-command. In three off-line judgment studies and two eye-tracking studies, we show that referential NPs are easily accessed as antecedents, irrespective of whether they c-command the pronoun, but that quantificational NPs are accessed as antecedents only when they c-command the pronoun. These results are unexpected under theories that hold that retrieval exclusively uses a limited set of content features as retrieval cues. Our results suggest either that memory access mechanisms can make use of relational information as a guide for retrieval, or that the set of features that is used to encode syntactic relations in memory must be enriched.
|92.||Sol Lago; Diego Shalom; Mariano Sigman; Ellen Lau; Colin Phillips: Agreement processes in Spanish comprehension. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 82, pp. 133-149, 2015. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Previous studies have found that English speakers experience attraction effects when comprehending subject-verb agreement, showing eased processing of ungrammatical sentences that contain a syntactically unlicensed but number-matching attractor noun. In three self-paced reading experiments we examine whether attraction effects also occur in Spanish, a language where agreement morphology is richer and functionally more significant. We find that despite having a richer morphology, Spanish speakers show reliable attraction effects in comprehension, and that the magnitude and distributional profile of these effects are strikingly similar to those previously found in English. Further, we use distributional analyses to argue that cue-based memory retrieval is used as an error-driven mechanism in comprehension. We suggest the cross-linguistic similarities in agreement attraction result from speakers deploying repair or error-driven mechanisms uniformly across languages.
|91.||Shevaun Lewis; Colin Phillips: Aligning grammatical theories and language processing models. In: Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 27-46, 2015. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
We address two important questions about the relationship between theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics. First, do grammatical theories and language processing models describe separate cognitive systems, or are they accounts of different aspects of the same system? We argue that most evidence is consistent with the one-system view. Second, how should we relate grammatical theories and language processing models to each other?
|90.||Barbara Zurer Pearson; Jeffrey Lidz; Cecile McKee; Elizabeth A. McCullough; Leslie C. Moore; Colin Phillips; Shari R. Speer; Laura Wagner; Elly Zimmer: Linguistics for everyone: Engaging a broader public for the scientific study of language. In: Proceedings of the 39th Boston University Conference on Language Development, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 2015. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|89.||Colin Phillips; Dan Parker: The psycholinguistics of ellipsis. In: Lingua, vol. 151, pp. 78-95, 2014, (published online Nov 27, 2013). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article reviews studies that have used experimental methods from psycholinguistics to address questions about the representa- tion of sentences involving ellipsis. Accounts of the structure of ellipsis can be classified based on three choice points in a decision tree. First: does the identity constraint between antecedents and ellipsis sites apply to syntactic or semantic representations? Second: does the ellipsis site contain a phonologically null copy of the structure of the antecedent, or does it contain a pronoun or pointer that lacks internal structure? Third: if there is unpronounced structure at the ellipsis site, does that structure participate in all syntactic processes, or does it behave as if it is genuinely absent at some levels of syntactic representation? Experimental studies on ellipsis have begun to address the first two of these questions, but they are unlikely to provide insights on the third question, since the theoretical contrasts do not clearly map onto timing predictions. Some of the findings that are emerging in studies on ellipsis resemble findings from earlier studies on other syntactic dependencies involving wh-movement or anaphora. Care should be taken to avoid drawing conclusions from experiments about ellipsis that are known to be unwarranted in experiments about these other dependencies.
|88.||Dave Kush; Colin Phillips: Local anaphor licensing in an SOV language: implications for retrieval strategies. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1252, 2014. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Because morphological and syntactic constraints govern the distribution of potential antecedents for local anaphors, local antecedent retrieval might be expected to make equal use of both syntactic and morphological cues. However, previous research (e.g., Dillon et al., 2013) has shown that local antecedent retrieval is not susceptible to the same morphological interference effects observed during the resolution of morphologically-driven grammatical dependencies, such as subject-verb agreement checking (e.g., Pearlmutter, Garnsey and Bock, 1999). Although this lack of interference has been taken as evidence that syntactic cues are given priority over morphological cues in local antecedent retrieval, the absence of interference could also be the result of a confound in the materials used: the post-verbal position of local anaphors in prior studies may obscure morphological interference that would otherwise be visible if the critical anaphor were in a different position. We investigated the licensing of local anaphors (reciprocals) in Hindi, an SOV language, in order to determine whether pre-verbal anaphors are subject to morphological interference from feature-matching distractors in a way that post-verbal anaphors are not. Computational simulations using a version of the ACT-R parser (Lewis and Vasishth, 2005) predicted that a feature-matching distractor should facilitate the processing of an unlicensed reciprocal if morphological cues are used in antecedent retrieval. In a self-paced reading study we found no evidence that distractors eased processing of an unlicensed reciprocal. However, the presence of a distractor increased difficulty of processing following the reciprocal. We discuss the significance of these results for theories of cue selection in retrieval.
|87.||Brian Dillon; Wing Yee Chow; Matthew Wagers; Taomei Guo; Fengqin Liu; Colin Phillips: The structure-sensitivity of memory access: evidence from Mandarin Chinese. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, no. 1025, 2014, (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01025). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The present study examined the processing of the Mandarin Chinese long- distance reflexive ziji to evaluate the role that syntactic structure plays in the memory retrieval operations that support sentence comprehension. Using the multiple-response speed-accuracy tradeoff (MR-SAT) paradigm, we measured the speed with which comprehenders retrieve an antecedent for ziji. Our experimental materials contrasted sentences where ziji’s antecedent was in the local clause with sentences where ziji’s antecedent was in a distant clause. Time course results from MR-SAT suggest that ziji dependencies with syntactically distant antecedents are slower to process than syntactically local dependencies. To aid in interpreting the SAT data, we present a formal model of the antecedent retrieval process, and derive quantitative predictions about the time course of antecedent retrieval. The modeling results support the Local Search hypothesis: during syntactic retrieval, comprehenders initially limit memory search to the local syntactic domain. We argue that Local Search hypothesis has important implications for theories of locality effects in sentence comprehension. In particular, our results suggest that not all locality effects may be reduced to the effects of temporal decay and retrieval interference.
|86.||Shota Momma; Robert Slevc; Colin Phillips: The timing of verb selection in English active and passive sentences. In: Proceedings of MAPLL: Mental Architecture for Processing and Learning of Language, 2014. (Type: Inproceedings | | | )|
The current study reports the results from an extended picture-word interference task that examines the timing of verb planning in English active and passive utterances. The pattern of semantic interference on verbs suggests that advance planning of verbs occurs selectively before the onset of passive sentences. This pattern of advance verb planning cannot be explained by other factors including the linear position of verbs or limitations in cognitive resources. It is argued that the abstract linguistic relationships between words in a sentence guide the timing of lexical planning above and beyond these factors. This challenges an important premise of strongly incremental models of sentence production: that the production of a word in a sentence needs no advance planning of later coming words.
|85.||Wing Yee Chow; Shevaun Lewis; Colin Phillips: Immediate sensitivity to structural constraints in pronoun resolution. In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, no. 630, 2014. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Real-time interpretation of pronouns is sometimes sensitive to the presence of grammatically-illicit antecedents and sometimes not. This occasional sensitivity has been taken as evidence that structural constraints do not immediately impact the initial antecedent retrieval for pronoun interpretation. We argue that it is important to separate effects that reflect the initial antecedent retrieval process from those that reflect later processes. We present results from five reading comprehension experiments. Both the current results and previous evidence support the hypothesis that agreement features and structural constraints immediately constrain the antecedent retrieval process for pronoun interpretation. Occasional sensitivity to grammatically-illicit antecedents may be due to repair processes triggered when the initial retrieval fails to return a grammatical antecedent.
|84.||Akira Omaki; Imogen Davidson White; Takuya Goro; Jeffrey Lidz; Colin Phillips: No fear of commitment: children's incremental interpretation in English and Japanese wh-questions. In: Language Learning and Development, vol. 10, pp. 206-233, 2014. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Much work on child sentence processing has demonstrated that children are able to use various linguistic cues to incrementally resolve temporary syntactic ambiguities, but they fail to use syn- tactic or interpretability cues that arrive later in the sentence. The present study explores whether children incrementally resolve filler-gap dependencies, using Japanese and English ambiguous wh-questions of the form Where did Lizzie tell someone that she was gonna catch butterflies?, in which one could answer either the telling location (main clause interpretation) or the butterfly– catching location (embedded clause interpretation). Three story-based experiments demonstrate two novel findings on children’s incremental interpretation of filler-gap dependencies. First, we observe that English-speaking adults and children generally prefer the main clause interpretation, whereas Japanese adults and children both prefer the embedded clause interpretation. As the linear order of main clause and embedded clause predicates differs between English (main first, embedded second) and Japanese (embedded first, main second), the results indicate that adults and children actively asso- ciate the wh-phrase with the first predicate in the sentence. Second, Japanese children were unable to inhibit their embedded clause interpretation bias when the sentence was manipulated to syntactically block such analyses. The failure to inhibit the preferred interpretation suggests that the wh-phrase was incrementally associated with the embedded clause. On the other hand, when the sentence was manipulated to semantically block a plausible interpretation for the embedded clause wh-association, children were able to overcome their strong embedded clause interpretation bias and favored the main clause interpretation. These findings suggest that syntactic and interpretability cues may have distinct impacts on children’s sentence comprehension processes.
|83.||Matthew W Wagers; Colin Phillips: Going the distance: memory and control processes in active dependency construction. In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 167, no. 7, pp. 1274-1304, 2014. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Filler–gap dependencies make strong demands on working memory in language comprehension because they cannot always be immediately resolved. In a series of three reading-time studies, we test the idea that these demands can be decomposed into active maintenance processes and retrieval events. Results indicate that the fact that a displaced phrase exists and the identity of its basic syntactic category both immediately impact comprehension at potential gap sites. In contrast, specific lexical details of the displaced phrase show an immediate effect only for short dependencies and a much later effect for longer dependencies. We argue that coarse-grained information about the filler is actively maintained and is used to make phrase structure parsing decisions, whereas finer grained information is more quickly released from active maintenance and consequently has to be retrieved at the gap site.
|82.||Brian Dillon; Alan Mishler; Shayne Sloggett; Colin Phillips: Contrasting intrusion profiles for agreement and anaphora: experimental and modeling evidence. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 69, pp. 85-103, 2013. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
We investigated the relationship between linguistic representation and memory access by comparing the processing of two linguistic dependencies that require comprehenders to check that the subject of the current clause has the correct morphological features: sub- ject–verb agreement and reflexive anaphors in English. In two eye-tracking experiments we examined the impact of structurally illicit noun phrases on the computation of reflexive and subject–verb agreement. Experiment 1 directly compared the two dependencies within participants. Results show a clear difference in the intrusion profile associated with each dependency: agreement resolution displays clear intrusion effects in comprehension (as found by Pearlmutter, Garnsey, & Bock, 1999; Wagers, Lau, & Phillips, 2009), but reflexi- ves show no such intrusion effect from illicit antecedents (Sturt, 2003; Xiang, Dillon, & Phillips, 2009). Experiment 2 replicated the lack of intrusion for reflexives, confirming the reliability of the pattern and examining a wider range of feature combinations. In addition, we present modeling evidence that suggests that the reflexive results are best captured by a memory retrieval mechanism that uses primarily syntactic information to guide retrievals for the anaphor’s antecedent, in contrast to the mixed morphological and syntactic cues used resolve subject–verb agreement dependencies. Despite the fact that agreement and reflexive dependencies are subject to a similar morphological agree- ment constraint, in online processing comprehenders appear to implement this constraint in distinct ways for the two dependencies.
|81.||Wing Yee Chow; Colin Phillips: No semantic illusion in the 'semantic P600' phenomenon: ERP evidence from Mandarin Chinese. In: Brain Research, vol. 1506, pp. 76-93, 2013. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Recent observations of unexpected ERP responses to grammatically well-formed role-reversed sentences (the ‘‘Semantic P600’’ phenomenon) have been taken to bear directly on questions about the architecture of the language processing system. This paper evaluates two central pieces of evidence for accounts that propose a syntax-independent semantic composition mechanism, namely the presence of P600 effects and the absence of N400 effects in role-reversed sentences. Experiment 1 examined the relative contribution of the presence of an animacy violation and the semantic relations between words (‘combinability’) to the ERP responses to role-reversed sentences. Experiment 2 examined the ERP responses to role-reversed sentences that are fully animacy-congruous. Results from the two experiments showed that animacy-violated sentences with no plausible non-surface interpretation elicited the same P600 effect as both types of role- reversed sentences; additionally, semantically anomalous target words elicited no N400 effects when they were strongly semantically related to the preceding words, regardless of the presence of animacy violations. Taken together, these findings suggest that the presence of P600s to role- reversed sentences can be attributed to the implausibility of the sentence meaning, and the absence of N400 effects is due to a combination of weak contextual constraints and strong lexical association. The presence of a plausible non-surface interpretation and animacy violations made no unique contribution to the ERP response profiles. Hence, existing ERP findings are compatible with the long-held assumption that online semantic composition is dependent on surface syntax and do not constitute evidence for a syntax-independent semantic composition mechanism.
|80.||Colin Phillips; Shevaun Lewis: Derivational order in syntax: evidence and architectural consequences. In: Studies in Linguistics, vol. 6, pp. 11-47, 2013. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Most formal syntactic theories propose either that syntactic representations are the product of a derivation that assembles words and phrases in a bottom-to-top and typically right-to-left fashion, or that they are not constructed in an ordered fashion. Both of these views contrast with the (roughly) left-to-right order of structure assembly in language use, and with some recent claims that syntactic derivations and real-time structure-building are essentially the same. In this article we discuss the mentalistic commitments of standard syntactic theories, distinguishing literalist, formalist, and extensionalist views of syntactic derivations. We argue that existing evidence favors the view that human grammatical representations are the product of an implementation dependent system, i.e., syntactic representations are assembled in a consistent order, as claimed by grammatical models that are closely aligned with real-time processes. We discuss the evidence for left- to-right syntactic derivations, and respond to critiques of a proposal that the conflicts between the results of constituency diagnostics can be explained in terms of timing.
|79.||Colin Phillips: Some arguments and non-arguments for reductionist accounts of syntactic phenomena. In: Language and Cognitive Processes, vol. 28, pp. 156-187, 2013. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Many syntactic phenomena have received competing accounts, either in terms of formal grammatical mechanisms, or in terms of independently motivated properties of language processing mechanisms (‘‘reductionist’’ accounts). A variety of different types of argument have been put forward in efforts to distinguish these competing accounts. This article critically examines a number of arguments that have been offered as evidence in favour of formal or reductionist analyses, and concludes that some types of argument are more decisive than others. It argues that evidence from graded acceptability effects and from isomorphism between acceptability judgements and on-line compre- hension profiles are less decisive. In contrast, clearer conclusions can be drawn from cases of overgeneration, where there is a discrepancy between accept- ability judgements and the representations that are briefly constructed on-line, and from tests involving individual differences in cognitive capacity. Based on these arguments, the article concludes that a formal grammatical account is better supported in some domains, and that a reductionist account fares better in other domains. Phenomena discussed include island constraints, agreement attraction, constraints on anaphora, and comparatives.
|78.||Colin Phillips: On the nature of island constraints. II: Language learning and innateness. In: Sprouse, Jon; Hornstein, Norbert (Ed.): Experimental syntax and island effects, pp. 132-157, Cambridge University Press, 2013. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|77.||Colin Phillips: On the nature of island constraints. I: Language processing and reductionist accounts. In: Sprouse, Jon; Hornstein, Norbert (Ed.): Experimental syntax and island effects, pp. 64-108, Cambridge University Press, 2013. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|76.||Colin Phillips: Parser-grammar relations: We don’t understand everything twice. In: Sanz, Montserrat; Laka, Itziar; Tanenhaus, Michael (Ed.): Language down the garden path: the cognitive basis for linguistic structure, pp. 294–315, Oxford University Press, 2013. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|75.||Jon Sprouse; Matt Wagers; Colin Phillips: Deriving competing predictions from grammatical approaches and reductionist approaches to island effects. In: Sprouse, Jon; Hornstein, Norbert (Ed.): Experimental syntax and island effects, pp. 21–41, Cambridge University Press, 2013. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|74.||Jon Sprouse; Matt Wagers; Colin Phillips: Working memory capacity and island effects: A reminder of the issues and of the facts. In: Language, vol. 88, pp. 401-407, 2012. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article responds to a critique by Hofmeister et al. (2012).
|73.||Brian Dillon; Andrew Nevins; Alison C. Austin; Colin Phillips: Syntactic and semantic predictors of tense in Hindi: An ERP investigation. In: Language and Cognitive Processes, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 313-344, 2012. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Although there is broad agreement that error signals generated during an unexpected linguistic event are reflected in ERP components, there are least two distinct aspects of the process that the ERP signals may reflect. The first is the content of an error, which is the local discrepancy between an observed form and any expectations about upcoming forms, without any reference to why those expectations were held. The second aspect is the cause of an error, which is a context-aware analysis of why the error arose. The current study examines the processes involved in prediction of morphological marking on verbal forms in Hindi, a split ergative language. This is a case where an error with the same local characteristics (illicit morphology) can arise from very different cues: one syntactic in origin (ergative case marking), and the other semantic in origin (a past tense adverbial). Results suggest that the parser indeed tracks the cause in addition to the content of errors. Despite the fact that the critical manipulation of verb marking was identical across cue types, the nature of the cue led to distinct patterns of ERPs in response to anomalous verbal morphology. When verbal morphology was predicted based upon semantic cues, an incorrect future tense form elicited an early negativity in the 200-400 ms interval with a posterior distribution along with a marginally significant P600 effect. In contrast, when verbal morphology was predicted based upon morphosyntactic cues, an incorrect future tense form elicited a right-lateralized anterior negativity (RAN) during the 300-500 ms interval, as well as a P600 response with a broad distribution.
|72.||Clare Stroud; Colin Phillips: Examining the evidence for an independent semantic analyzer: An ERP study in Spanish. In: Brain and Language, vol. 120, pp. 107-126, 2012. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Recent ERP findings challenge the widespread assumption that syntactic and semantic processes are tightly coupled. Syntactically well-formed sentences that are semantically anomalous due to thematic mismatches elicit a P600, the component standardly associated with syntactic anomaly. This ‘thematic P600’ effect has been attributed to detection of semantically plausible thematic relations that conflict with the surface syntactic structure of the sentence, implying a processing architecture with an independent semantic analyzer. A key finding is that the P600 is selectively sensitive to the presence of plausible verb-argument relations, and that otherwise an N400 is elicited (The hearty meal was devouring ... vs. The dusty tabletop was devouring ...: Kim & Osterhout, 2005). The current study investigates in Spanish whether the evidence for an independent semantic analyzer is better explained by a standard architecture that rapidly integrates multiple sources of lexical, syntactic, and semantic information. The study manipulated the presence of plausible thematic relations, and varied the choice of auxiliary between passive-biased fue and active-progressive biased estaba. Results show a late positivity that appeared as soon as comprehenders detected an improbable combination of subject animacy, auxiliary bias, or verb voice morphology. This effect appeared at the lexical verb in the fue conditions and at the auxiliary in the estaba conditions. The late positivity elicited by surface thematic anomalies was the same, regardless of the presence of a plausible non-surface interpretation, and no N400 effects were elicited. These findings do not implicate an independent semantic analyzer, and are compatible with standard language processing architectures.
|71.||Jon Sprouse; Matt Wagers; Colin Phillips: A test of the relation between working memory capacity and syntactic island effects. In: Language, vol. 88, pp. 82-123, 2012. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The source of syntactic island effects has been a topic of considerable debate within linguistics and psycholinguistics. Explanations fall into three basic categories: grammatical theories, which posit specific grammatical constraints that exclude extraction from islands; grounded theories, which posit grammaticized constraints that have arisen to adapt to constraints on learning or pars- ing; and reductionist theories, which analyze island effects as emergent consequences of non- grammatical constraints on the sentence parser, such as limited processing resources. In this article we present two studies designed to test a fundamental prediction of one of the most prominent re- ductionist theories: that the strength of island effects should vary across speakers as a function of individual differences in processing resources. We tested over three hundred native speakers of English on four different island-effect types (whether, complex NP, subject, and adjunct islands) using two different acceptability rating tasks (seven-point scale and magnitude estimation) and two different measures of working-memory capacity (serial recall and n-back). We find no evi- dence of a relationship between working-memory capacity and island effects using a variety of statistical analysis techniques, including resampling simulations. These results suggest that island effects are more likely to be due to grammatical constraints or grounded grammaticized con- straints than to limited processing resources.
|70.||Colin Phillips: Individual variation and constraints on language learning. In: Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 281-286, 2012. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|69.||Pedro Alcocer; Colin Phillips: Using relational syntactic constraints in content-addressable memory architectures for sentence parsing. 2012. (Type: Unpublished | | | )|
How linguistic representations in memory are searched and retrieved during sentence processing is an active question in psycholinguistics. Much work has independently suggested that retrieval operations require constant-time computations, are susceptible to interference, and operate under the constraint of a severely limited focus of attention. These features suggest a model for sentence processing that uses a content-addressable memory (CAM) architecture that accesses items in parallel while relying on only a limited amount of privileged, fast storage. A challenge for a CAM architecture comes from the potentially unbounded configurational relation c-command (equivalent to logical scope) that plays a pervasive role in linguistic phenomena. CAM is well-suited to retrieval of elements based on inherent properties of memory chunks, but relational notions such as c-command involve the properties of pairs of nodes in a structure, rather than inherent properties of individual chunks. To explore this problem, in this paper we adopt an explicit CAM-based model of sentence processing in the context of the ACT-R computational architecture (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005, Cognitive Science, 29, 375-419). We discuss why c-command is a challenge for CAM and explore algorithms for exploiting or approximating c-command online, and discuss their consequences for the model. We identify computational problems that any attention-limited, CAM-based model would have to address.
|68.||Colin Phillips; Matthew W Wagers; Ellen F Lau: Grammatical Illusions and Selective Fallibility in Real-Time Language Comprehension. In: Runner, Jeffrey (Ed.): Experiments at the Interfaces. Syntax & Semantics, vol. 37, pp. 147–180, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011. (Type: Incollection | | | )|
Grammatical constraints impose diverse requirements on the relations between words and phrases in a sentence. Research on the online implementation of grammatical constraints reveals a strikingly uneven profile. The parser shows impressive accuracy in the application of some rather complex constraints, but makes many errors in the implementation of some relatively simple constraints. Just as the study of optical illusions has played an important role in the study of visual perception, the parser’s highly selective vulnerability to interference and ‘‘grammatical illusions’’ provides a valuable tool for understanding how speakers encode and navigate complex linguistic representations in real time.
|67.||Colin Phillips: Syntax at age two: cross-linguistic differences. In: Language Acquisition, vol. 17, pp. 70-120, 2010, (This is a republication of an article that first appeared in 1995 in MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The 1990s witnessed a major expansion in research on children’s morphosyntactic development, due largely to the availability of computer-searchable corpora of spontaneous speech in the CHILDES database. This led to a rapid emergence of parallel findings in different languages, with much attention devoted to the widely attested difficulties in inflectional morphology in the speech of two- year-olds. First written in 1995, and framed within the terms of contemporary syntactic theories, this article argues that cross-linguistic differences in the distribution of children’s morphosyntactic errors provide important clues to the source of the errors, in particular whether they are morphological or syntactic in origin. The article takes as its starting point some striking previous findings that children’s verb inflection errors are systematically correlated, on a sentence-by-sentence basis, with errors in the use of overt subjects, and with the use of syntactically complex constructions such as wh-questions. The article shows that these correlations are found in some languages but not in others, and argues that these differences are predictable, based on the verb movement and case licensing properties of individual languages. The article argues that children’s errors reflect a combination of grammatical and speech production deficits.
|66.||Colin Phillips: Should we impeach armchair linguists. In: Japanese/Korean Linguistics, vol. 17, pp. 49–64, 2010. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|65.||Ana C Gouvea; Colin Phillips; Nina Kazanina; David Poeppel: The linguistic processes underlying the P600. In: Language and Cognitive Processes, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 149–188, 2010. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The P600 is an event-related brain potential (ERP) typically associated with the processing of grammatical anomalies or incongruities. A similar response has also been observed in fully acceptable long-distance wh-dependencies. Such findings raise the question of whether these ERP responses reflect common underlying processes, and what might be the specific mechanisms that are shared between successful processing of well-formed sentences and the detection and repair of syntactic anomalies. The current study presents a comparison of the ERP responses elicited by syntactic violations, garden path sentences, and long-distance wh-dependencies, using maximally similar materials in a within-subjects design. Results showed that a P600 component was elicited by syntactic violations and garden path sentences, but was less robustly elicited in the long-distance wh-dependency condition. Differences in the scalp topography, onset and duration of the P600 effects are characterised in terms of the syntactic operations involved in building complex syntactic structures, with particular attention to retrieval processes, which control the latency of the P600, and structure building processes, which control its duration and amplitude.
|64.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips: Differential effects of constraints in the processing of Russian cataphora. In: The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 371–400, 2010. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Anaphoric relations between pronouns and their antecedents are subject to a number of different linguistic constraints, which exclude the possibility of coreference in specific syntactic or discourse con- texts. Constraints on anaphora may, in principle, impact online sentence processing in a couple of different ways. They may act as constraints on the generation of interpretations, preventing illicit ana- phoric relations from ever being considered. Alternatively, they may act as later filters on interpret- ations, rejecting candidate interpretations after initial consideration. A number of previous studies have sought to determine which of these mechanisms accurately describes the online impact of con- straints on anaphora. The current studies present evidence that there is no uniform answer to this question, and that the two mechanisms are both used, for different constraints. Evidence for this is drawn from studies on the processing of two constraints on backwards anaphora or cataphora in Russian that apply in superficially similar contexts but that differ in a number of respects. One self-paced reading study and two judgement studies are reported. The self-paced reading study manipulates the gender congruency between a pronoun and a following name in three pairs of con- ditions. In conditions where the pronoun–name configuration violates no constraints on anaphora a gender mismatch effect was observed following the name, as in previous studies, suggesting that comprehenders actively search for an antecedent following a cataphoric pronoun. In conditions where the pronoun–name configuration violates Principle C of the classical binding theory no effect of the gender manipulation was observed, suggesting that comprehenders do not even consider the possibility of interpretations that violate this constraint. In conditions where the pronoun–name configuration violates a Russian-specific constraint on cataphora a gender match effect was observed following the name, the reverse of the finding in the no-constraint conditions, suggesting that the constraint applies as a filter on candidate interpretations.
|63.||Anastasia Conroy; Eri Takahashi; Jeffrey Lidz; Colin Phillips: Equal treatment for all antecedents: how children succeed with Principle B. In: Linguistic Inquiry, vol. 45, pp. 446-486, 2009. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Children have repeatedly been found to exhibit Principle B violations, with some reports that these violations occur only with nonquantified antecedents. This quantificational asymmetry (QA) in the delay of Principle B effect (DPBE) has been taken as support for a theory that restricts the scope of binding theory to bound variable anaphora (Reinhart 1983). However, the QA has been challenged, on the basis of discrepant findings and methodological concerns (Elbourne 2005). Here, we resolve the status of the QA with 3 studies and a review of over 30 previous studies. Using improved experimental materials, we show that children disallow local pronoun binding with both referential and quantificational antecedents when Principle B is at issue (Experi- ment 1), but not when Principle B is neutralized (Experiment 2). When methodological flaws are reintroduced, we replicate the QA (Experiment 3). Drawing on evidence from adult language processing, we suggest that the role of Principle B as a filter on representations during sentence understanding, in concert with pragmatic infelicities in the tasks used, accounts for the wide variability in the DPBE in the litera- ture.
|62.||Matthew W Wagers; Ellen F Lau; Colin Phillips: Agreement attraction in comprehension: Representations and processes. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 206–237, 2009. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Much work has demonstrated so-called attraction errors in the production of subject–verb agreement (e.g., ‘The key to the cabinets are on the table’, [Bock, J. K., & Miller, C. A. (1991). Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 23, 45–93]), in which a verb erroneously agrees with an intervening noun. Six self-paced reading experiments examined the online mech- anisms underlying the analogous attraction effects that have been shown in comprehen- sion; namely reduced disruption for subject–verb agreement violations when these ‘attractor’ nouns intervene. One class of theories suggests that these effects are rooted in faulty representation of the number of the subject, while another class of theories suggests instead that such effects arise in the process of re-accessing subject number at the verb. Two main findings provide evidence against the first class of theories. First, attraction also occurs in relative clause configurations in which the attractor noun does not intervene between subject and verb and is not in a direct structural relationship with the subject head (e.g., ‘The drivers who the runner wave to each morning’). Second, we observe a ‘grammatical asymmetry’: attraction effects are limited to ungrammatical sentences, which would be unexpected if the representation of subject number were inherently prone to error. We argue that agreement attraction in comprehension instead reflects a cue-based retrieval mechanism that is subject to retrieval errors. The grammatical asymmetry can be accounted for under one implementation that we propose, or if the mechanism is only called upon when the predicted agreement features fail to be instantiated on the verb.
|61.||Ming Xiang; Brian Dillon; Colin Phillips: Illusory licensing effects across dependency types: ERP evidence. In: Brain and Language, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 40–55, 2009. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A number of recent studies have argued that grammatical illusions can arise in the process of completing linguistic dependencies, such that unlicensed material is temporarily treated as licensed, due to the presence of a potential licensor that is semantically appropriate but in a syntactically inappropriate position. A frequently studied case involves illusory licensing of negative polarity items (NPIs) like ever and any, which must appear in the scope (i.e., c command domain) of a negative or similar element. Speakers often show intrusive licensing effects in sentences where an NPI is preceded but not c commanded by a negative element, as in *The restaurants that no newspapers have recommended in their reviews have ever gone out of business. Existing accounts of intrusive licensing have focused on the role of general retrieval processes. In contrast, we propose that intrusive licensing of NPIs reflects semantic/pragmatic processes that are more specific to NPI licensing. As a test of this claim, we present results from an ERP study that presents a structurally matched comparison of intrusive licensing in two types of linguistic dependencies, namely NPI licensing and the binding of reflexive anaphors like himself, herself. In the absence of a potential licensor, both NPIs and reflexives elicit a P600 response, but whereas there is an immediate ERP analog of the intrusion effect for NPI licensing, no such effect is found for reflexive binding. This suggests that the NPI intrusion effect does not reflect general purpose retrieval mechanisms.
|60.||Sachiko Aoshima; Masaya Yoshida; Colin Phillips: Incremental processing of coreference and binding in Japanese. In: Syntax, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 93–134, 2009. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article presents two on-line self-paced reading studies and three off-line acceptability judgment studies on the processing of backward anaphoric dependencies in Japanese in which a pronoun precedes potential antecedent noun phrases. The studies investigate the real-time formation of coreference relations and operator- variable binding relations to determine whether speakers of head-final languages are able to construct grammatically accurate syntactic structures before they encounter a verb. The results of the acceptability rating studies confirm previous claims that backwards anaphoric dependencies in Japanese are more acceptable in configurations where a pronoun has been fronted via scrambling from a position where it would be c-commanded by its antecedent. The results of the on-line studies demonstrate that these acceptability contrasts have an immediate impact on parsing. Reading-time results showed immediate sensitivity to the semantic congruency between an NP and a preceding pronoun in noncanonical (‘‘scrambled’’) word orders, and no immediate effect of semantic congruency otherwise. This contrast was found both for coreference relations involving the personal pronouns kare/kanojo (experiment 1) and for operator- variable relations involving the demonstrative pronoun soko (experiment 3). These findings go beyond previous evidence for incremental parsing in head-final languages by showing that Japanese speakers build compositional structures (such as anaphoric relations) in a grammatically constrained fashion in advance of encountering a verb in the input.
|59.||Matthew W Wagers; Colin Phillips: Multiple dependencies and the role of the grammar in real-time comprehension. In: Journal of Linguistics, vol. 45, no. 02, pp. 395–433, 2009. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Wh-dependencies are known to be formed rapidly in real-time comprehension. The parser posits the location of gap sites in advance of the bottom-up evidence for missing constituents, and must therefore have a means of deciding when and where to project dependencies. Previous studies have observed that the parser avoids building ungrammatical wh-dependencies, for example, by restricting the search for gap sites from island domains. This paper tests the stronger claim that constraints are not merely respected, but that grammatical knowledge actively prompts the con- struction of some representations in advance of the input. Three self-paced reading experiments examined patterns of wh-dependency formation in multiple-dependency constructions: obligatory across-the-board (ATB) extraction from coordinated verb phrases, and from optional parasitic gaps in post-verbal adjunct clauses. The key finding is that comprehenders immediately enforce the requirement for extraction from coordinates, and hence actively search for multiple gap sites within a coordinate VP; but they do not search for post-verbal parasitic gaps. This difference cannot be attributed to relative differences in acceptability, as comprehenders rated both of these multiple-gap constructions equally highly, nor can it be explained by general parsing incentives to develop maximal incremental interpretations of partial strings. More plausibly, the difference reflects the deployment of detailed grammatical knowledge in a parser that is motivated to satisfy structural licensing requirements in real time.
|58.||Chun-chieh Natalie Hsu; Felicia Hurewitz; Colin Phillips: Context influences structure generation: evidence from Chinese. 2009, (submitted for publication). (Type: Unpublished | | | )|
This study reports three sets of experiments that investigate the impact of context on structure generation in on-line sentence processing. Unlike previous studies that have addressed the role of context in resolving ambiguities, the current study examined the role of context in helping the parser to identify unambiguous structures that it could not otherwise recognize. The first set of experiments shows that late disambiguation of Chinese head-final relative clauses (RCs) elicits mild garden-path effects, and that a direct cue from the particle suo can facilitate the processing of head-final RCs. The second set of experiments shows that, in contrast to the direct cue, the parser fails to use an indirect-but-unambiguous cue from a mismatching classifier-noun sequence to recognize an upcoming RC structure and to avoid a garden path at the end of the RC. The third set of experiments shows that, when a supporting context for an RC is provided, the parser becomes able to use the indirect cue of the mismatching classifier-noun sequence to recognize an upcoming relative clause. Taken together, the findings suggest that there is a limitation on the parser’s ability to act upon unambiguous-yet-indirect cues in incremental structure building. When such a situation occurs, contextual information becomes crucial and it actively contributes to the structure generation process to help the parser to recognize incoming structures. These findings suggest that structural and non-structural information can interact with each other in the structure generation process, providing a type of evidence for interactivity in structure generation that has proven elusive in previous studies.
|57.||Ellen F Lau; Colin Phillips; David Poeppel: A cortical network for semantics:(de) constructing the N400. In: Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 12, pp. 920–933, 2008. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Measuring event-related potentials (ERPs) has been fundamental to our understanding of how language is encoded in the brain. One particular ERP response, the N400 response, has been especially influential as an index of lexical and semantic processing. However, there remains a lack of consensus on the interpretation of this component. Resolving this issue has important consequences for neural models of language comprehension. Here we show that evidence bearing on where the N400 response is generated provides key insights into what it reflects. A neuroanatomical model of semantic processing is used as a guide to interpret the pattern of activated regions in functional MRI, magnetoencephalography and intracranial recordings that are associated with contextual semantic manipulations that lead to N400 effects.
|56.||Ellen F Lau; Katya Rozanova; Colin Phillips: Syntactic prediction and lexical surface frequency effects in sentence processing. In: University of Maryland Working Papers in Linguistics, vol. 16, pp. 163–200, 2008. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This paper presents three experiments which examine the effect of lexical surface frequency on sentence processing and the interaction between surface frequency and syntactic prediction. The first two experiments make use of the self-paced reading paradigm to show that processing time differences due to surface frequency (e.g., the frequency of cats not including occurrences of cat), which have previously been demonstrated in isolated word tasks like lexical decision, also give rise to reaction time differences in sentence processing tasks, in this case for singular and plural English nouns. The second experiment investigates whether a prediction for the number morpheme triggered by the number-marked determiners this and these might counter the surface frequency effect; however, the small size of the surface frequency effect and baseline differences in reaction times to this and these made the results unclear. Results from a third experiment using lexical decision suggest that the difference in the size of the surface frequency effects between the lexical decision experiments and the self- paced-reading experiments are likely due to differences in task demands. Our results have methodological implications for psycholinguistic experiments that manipulate morphology as a means of examining other questions of interest.
|55.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips: A developmental perspective on the imperfective paradox. In: Cognition, vol. 105, pp. 65-102, 2007. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Imperfective or progressive verb morphology makes it possible to use the name of a whole event to refer to an activity that is clearly not a complete instance of that event, leading to what is known as the Imperfective Paradox. For example, a sentence like ‘John was building a house’ does not entail that a house ever got built. The Imperfective Paradox has received a number of diVerent treatments in the philosophical and linguistic literature, but has received less attention from the perspective of language acquisition. This article presents developmental evidence on the nature of the Imperfective Paradox, based on a series of four experiments con- ducted with Russian-speaking 3 to 6 year olds. Despite the fact that Russian is a language in which the morphological form of imperfectives is highly salient and used appropriately at a very young age, younger children show a clearly non-adultlike pattern of comprehension in our experiments. The results from Experiments 1 and 2 suggest that Russian-speaking children incorrectly ascribe completion entailments to imperfectives. However, Experiments 3 and 4 indicate that the children recognize that imperfectives can describe incomplete events, and that their problem instead concerns their inability to Wnd a suitable temporal interval against which to evaluate imperfective statements. SpeciWcally, children are only willing to accept an imper- fective predicate as a description of a past incomplete event when the sentence contains an explicit temporal modiWer that highlights a time interval that ends before the failure point of the event. These Wndings are taken as support for an account of the imperfective that makes use of temporal perspectives in solving the Imperfective Paradox.
|54.||Nina Kazanina; Ellen F Lau; Moti Lieberman; Masaya Yoshida; Colin Phillips: The effect of syntactic constraints on the processing of backwards anaphora. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 384–409, 2007. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article presents three studies that investigate when syntactic constraints become available during the processing of long-distance backwards pronominal dependencies (backwards anaphora or cataphora). Earlier work demonstrated that in such structures the parser initiates an active search for an antecedent for a pronoun, leading to gender mismatch effects in cases where a noun phrase in a potential antecedent position mismatches the gender of the pronoun [Van Gompel, R. P. G. & Liversedge, S. P. (2003). The influence of morphological information on cataphoric pronoun assignment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 128–139]. Results from three self-paced reading studies suggest that structural constraints on coreference, in particular Principle C of the Binding Theory [Chomsky, N. (1981). Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht, Foris], exert an influence at an early stage of this search process, such that gender mismatch effects are elicited at grammatically licit antecedent positions, but not at grammatically illicit antecedent positions. The results also show that the distribution of gender mismatch effects is unlikely to be due to differences in the predictability of different potential antecedents. These findings suggest that back- wards anaphora dependencies are processed with a grammatically constrained active search mechanism, similar to the mechanism used to process another type of long-distance dependency, the wh dependency (e.g., [Stowe, L. (1986). Evi- dence for online gap creation. Language and Cognitive Processes, 1, 227–245; Traxler, M. J., & Pickering, M. J. (1996). Plausibility and the processing of unbounded dependencies: an eye-tracking study. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 454–475.]). We suggest that the temporal priority for syntactic information observed here reflects the predictability of structural information, rather than the need for an architectural constraint that delays the use of non-syntactic information.
|53.||Colin Phillips; Matthew Wagers: Relating structure and time in linguistics and psycholinguistics. In: Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics, pp. 739–756, Oxford University Press, 2007. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|52.||Andrew Nevins; Brian Dillon; Shiti Malhotra; Colin Phillips: The role of feature-number and feature-type in processing Hindi verb agreement violations. In: Brain Research, vol. 1164, pp. 81–94, 2007. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article presents studies of Hindi that investigate whether responses to syntactic agreement violations vary as a function of the type and number of incorrect agreement features, using both electrophysiological (ERP) and behavioral measures. Hindi is well suited to investigation of this issue, since verbs in Hindi mark agreement with the person, number, and gender features of the nominative subject noun phrase. In an ERP study evoked responses were recorded for visually presented verbs appearing at the end of a sentence- initial adverbial clause, comparing responses in a grammatically correct condition with four grammatically incorrect conditions that mismatched the correct agreement on different dimensions (Gender, Number, Gender/Number, Person/Gender). A P600 response was elicited in all grammatically incorrect conditions. No amplitude differences were found among the Gender, Number, and combined Gender/Number violations. This suggests that the feature distance between observed and expected word forms at the morphosyntactic level does not impact ERP responses, contrasting with findings on semantic and auditory processing, and suggests that the P600 response to agreement violations is not additive based on the number of mismatching features and does not reflect top-down, predictive mechanisms. A significantly larger P600 response was elicited by the combined Person/ Gender violation, and two different violations involving the Person feature were judged as more severe and recognized more quickly in the behavioral studies. This effect is attributed to the greater salience of the Person feature at multiple levels of representation.
|51.||Moti Lieberman; Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips: Nativelike biases in generation of wh-questions by nonnative speakers of Japanese. In: Studies in Second Language Acquisition, vol. 28, pp. 423-448, 2006. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A number of studies of second language (L2) sentence processing have investigated whether ambiguity resolution biases in the native language (L1) transfer to superficially similar cognate structures in the L2. When transfer effects are found in such cases, it is difficult to determine whether they reflect surface parallels between the languages or the operation of more abstract processing mechanisms. Wh-questions in English and Japanese present a valuable test case for investigating the relation between L1 and L2 sentence processing. Native speakers (NSs) of English and Japanese both show strong locality biases in processing wh-questions, but these locality biases are realized in rather different ways in the two languages, due to differences in word order and scope marking. Results from a sen- tence generation study with NSs of Japanese and advanced English-speaking L2 learners of Japanese show that the L2 learners show a strongly nativelike locality bias in the resolution of scope ambiguities for in situ wh-phrases, despite the fact that the closest analogue of such an interpretation is impossible in English. This indicates that L2 learners are guided by abstract processing mechanisms and not just by superficial transfer from the L1.
|50.||Colin Phillips: Three benchmarks for distributional approaches to natural language syntax. In: Zanuttini, Raffaella; Campos, Hector; Herburger, Elena; Portner, Paul (Ed.): Negation, Tense, and Clausal Architecture: Cross-linguistic Investigations, Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2006. (Type: Inproceedings | | | )|
Human language abilities are far richer than what is represented in the kinds of monolingual corpora that are standardly used to evaluate statistical models of language learning. This article summarizes a series of findings from language acquisition, cross- language typology, and language processing, that illustrate the challenges that any serious model of natural language syntax must meet. Even a putative ideal statistical learner of cooccurrences in corpora will struggle to meet the challenges of complexity, cross- language consistency, and causality, unless it is able to take advantage of the rich representational primitives motivated by linguistics and psycholinguistics.
|49.||Ellen Lau; Clare Stroud; Silke Plesch; Colin Phillips: The role of structural prediction in rapid syntactic analysis. In: Brain and Language, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 74–88, 2006. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A number of recent electrophysiological studies of sentence processing have shown that a subclass of syntactic violations elicits very rapid ERP responses, occurring within around 200 ms of the onset of the violation. Such findings raise the question of how it is possible to diagnose violations so quickly. This paper suggests that very rapid diagnosis of errors is possible specifically in situations where the diagnosis problem is tightly constrained by specific expectations generated before the critical word is presented. In an event-related potentials (ERP) study of visual sentence reading participants encountered violations of a word order constraint (. . .Max’s of. . .) that has elicited early ERP responses in previous studies. Across conditions the illicit sequence was held constant, while sentence context was used to manipulate the expectation for a noun following the possessor Max’s, by manipulating the possibility of ellipsis of the head noun. Results showed that the anterior negativity elicited by the word category violation was attenuated when the availability of ellipsis reduced the expectation for a noun in the position of the offending preposition of, with divergence between conditions starting around 200 ms after the onset of the violation. This suggests a role for structural expectations in accounting for very fast syntactic diagnosis processes.
|48.||Colin Phillips: The real-time status of island phenomena. In: Language, pp. 795–823, 2006. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
In parasitic-gap constructions an illicit gap inside a syntactic island becomes acceptable in combination with an additional licit gap, a result that has interesting implications for theories of grammar. Such constructions hold even greater interest for the question of the relation between grammatical knowledge and real-time language processing. This article presents results from two experiments on parasitic-gap constructions in English in which the parasitic gap appears inside a subject island,before the licensing gap. An offline study confirms that parasitic gaps are acceptable when they occur inside the infinitival complement of a subject NP, but not when they occur inside a finite relative clause. An on-line self-paced reading study using a plausibility manipulation technique shows that incremental positing of gaps inside islands occurs in just those environments where parasitic gaps are acceptable. The fact that parasitic gaps are constructed incrementally in language processing presents a challenge for attempts to explain subject islands as epiphenomena of constraints on language processing and also helps to resolve apparent conflicts in previous studies of the role of island constraints in parsing.
|47.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips; William Idsardi: The influence of meaning on the perception of speech sounds. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 103, no. 30, pp. 11381–11386, 2006. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
As part of knowledge of language, an adult speaker possesses information on which sounds are used in the language and on the distribution of these sounds in a multidimensional acoustic space. However, a speaker must know not only the sound categories of his language but also the functional significance of these catego- ries, in particular, which sound contrasts are relevant for storing words in memory and which sound contrasts are not. Using magnetoencephalographic brain recordings with speakers of Rus- sian and Korean, we demonstrate that a speaker’s perceptual space, as reflected in early auditory brain responses, is shaped not only by bottom-up analysis of the distribution of sounds in his language but also by more abstract analysis of the functional significance of those sounds.
|46.||Hajime Ono; Masaya Yoshida; Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips: Real-time computation of Japanese exclamatives and the strength of locality biases in sentence comprehension. In: Cognitive Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, 2006. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This paper investigates mechanisms of long-distance dependency formation in language comprehension, using experimental data on the processing of Japanese interrogatives and exclamatives to explore the nature of locality biases in parsing. Findings on the processing of exclamative wh-phrases are compared to previous results involving the processing of interrogative wh-phrases, revealing both similarities and differences. Experiment 1 uses a sentence fragment completion task with in-situ and fronted exclamative and interrogative wh-phrases. Both types of in-situ wh-phrase show a strong bias for local generation of licensing particles. Conditions with fronted wh-phrases show a contrast between interrogative and exclamative wh-phrases: interrogatives show a bias for interpretation in an embedded clause, replicating previous evidence for a long-distance scrambling bias in Japanese (Aoshima, Phillips, & Weinberg, 2004); in contrast, the long-distance scrambling bias is weaker for fronted exclamative wh-phrases. Experiment 2 uses an on-line self-paced reading task to investigate the processing consequences of expectations for a local licensor for in-situ exclamative wh-phrases. Results indicate processing disruption when readers fail to encounter a licensor for an exclamative wh-phrase at the first possible verb position, although the disruption is weaker than the Typing Mismatch Effect shown for interrogatives in previous studies by Miyamoto and Takahashi (2002). Different possible accounts of the parallels and contrasts between processing of interrogatives and exclamatives are discussed.
|45.||Colin Phillips; Matthew Wagers: Constituent structure and the binding problem. In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 29, no. 01, pp. 81–82, 2006, (Commentary). (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Van der Velde & de Kamps’ model encodes complex word-to-word relations in sentences, but does not encode the hierarchical constituent structure of sentences, a fundamental property of most accounts of sentence structure. We summarize what is at stake, and suggest two ways of incorporating constituency into the model.
|44.||Colin Phillips; Nina Kazanina; Shani H Abada: ERP effects of the processing of syntactic long-distance dependencies. In: Cognitive Brain Research, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 407–428, 2005. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
In behavioral studies on sentence comprehension, much evidence indicates that shorter dependencies are preferred over longer dependencies, and that longer dependencies incur a greater processing cost. However, it remains uncertain which of the various steps involved in the processing of long-distance dependencies is responsible for the increased cost of longer dependencies. Previous sentence comprehension studies using event-related potentials (ERPs) have revealed response components that reflect the construction [J. King, M. Kutas, Who did what and when? Using word- and clause-level ERPs to monitor working memory usage in reading. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 7, (1995) 376–395.] and completion [E. Kaan, A. Harris, E. Gibson, P. Holcomb, The P600 as an index of syntactic integration difficulty. Language and Cognitive Processes, 5, (2000) 159–201.] of long-distance wh-dependencies. This article reports one off-line rating study and one ERP study that manipulated both the presence of wh-dependencies and the length of the dependencies (one clause vs. two clauses), with the aim of clarifying the locus of length-sensitivity and the functional role of associated ERP components. Results of the off- line study confirm that longer wh-dependencies incur greater processing cost. Results of the ERP study indicate that both a sustained anterior negativity that follows the initiation of the wh-dependency and also a late posterior positivity (P600) that marks the completion of the dependency are sensitive to the presence of a wh-dependency, but do not show amplitude variations reflecting the length of the dependency. However, the P600 is delayed when it marks the completion of a longer wh-dependency. This suggests that both the sustained negativity and the P600 reflect length-insensitive aspects of the construction of syntactic dependencies. In addition, an N400 component is elicited in the middle of the two clause wh-dependency, upon encountering a verb with an argument structure that prevents completion of the dependency.
|43.||Colin Phillips: Electrophysiology in the study of developmental language impairments: Prospects and challenges for a top-down approach. In: Applied Psycholinguistics, vol. 26, no. 01, pp. 79–96, 2005. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
There is a good deal of interest in the application of neurocognitive techniques to investigate the underpinnings of developmental language impairments (DLIs). Electrophysiological techniques such as electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography offer the promise of the ability to track brain activity with precision in time and space. This article describes a number of findings from studies of normal adults and children that are relevant to neurocognitive studies of developmental language impairments and outlines a series of challenges that should be met in order for electrophysiological measures to realize their promise.
|42.||Colin Phillips; Kuniyoshi L Sakai: Language and the brain. In: The McGraw-Hill handbook of science and technology, McGraw-Hill, 2005. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|41.||Colin Phillips: Linguistics and linking problems. In: Rice, Mabel; Warren, Steven (Ed.): Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies, pp. 241-287, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, 2004. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|40.||Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips; Amy Weinberg: Processing filler-gap dependencies in a head-final language. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 23–54, 2004. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This paper investigates the processing of long-distance filler-gap dependencies in Japanese, a strongly head-final language. Two self-paced reading experiments and one sentence completion study show that Japanese readers associate a fronted wh-phrase with the most deeply embedded clause of a multi-clause sentence. Experiment 1 demonstrates this using evidence that readers expect to encounter a scope-marking affix on the verb of an embedded clause in wh-fronting constructions. Experiment 2 shows that the wh-phrase is already associated with the embedded clause before the em- bedded verb is processed, based on a Japanese counterpart of the Filled Gap Effect (Stowe, 1986). Experiment 3 corroborates these findings in a sentence completion study. These findings clarify the factors responsible for Ôactive fillerÕ effects in processing long-distance dependencies (Crain & Fodor, 1985; Fodor, 1978; Frazier & Clifton, 1989; Stowe, 1986) in ways not possible in head-initial languages. The results provide evidence that the processing of filler-gap dependencies is driven by the need to satisfy thematic role requirements of the fronted phrase, rather than by the need to create a gap as soon as possible. The paper also discusses implications of these findings for theories of reanalysis.
|39.||Colin Phillips; Ellen Lau: Foundational issues. In: Journal of Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 03, pp. 571–591, 2004. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|38.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips: Temporal reference frames and the imperfective paradox. In: Garding, Gina; Tsujimura, Mimu (Ed.): WCCFL22: Proceedings of the 22nd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, pp. 287-300, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 2003. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|37.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips: Russian children's knowledge of aspectual distinctions. In: Beachley, Barbara; Brown, Amanda; Conlin, Frances (Ed.): BUCLD27: Proceedings of the 27th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 390-401, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 2003. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|36.||Colin Phillips: Linear order and constituency. In: Linguistic Inquiry, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 37–90, 2003. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This article presents a series of arguments that syntactic structures are built incrementally, in a strict left-to-right order. By assuming incremental structure building it becomes possible to explain the differ- ences in the range of constituents available to different diagnostics of constituency, including movement, ellipsis, coordination, scope, and binding. In an incremental derivation structure building creates new constituents, and in doing so it may destroy existing constituents. The article presents detailed evidence for the prediction of incremental grammar that a syntactic process may refer only to those constituents that are present at the point in the derivation when the process applies.
|35.||Colin Phillips; Howard Lasnik: Linguistics and empirical evidence: Reply to Edelman and Christiansen. In: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 61–62, 2003. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The main claims of Edelman and Christiansen’s (E&C’s) comment  on Lasnik’s article  are that generative grammar is built upon empirically weak (perhaps non- existent) foundations, and that generative grammar- ians aggressively resist experimental testing of their assumptions. Neither of these claims survives even brief scrutiny.
|34.||Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips; Amy Weinberg: Processing of Japanese wh-scrambling constructions. In: McClure, William (Ed.): Japanese/Korean Linguistics, pp. 179–191, CSLI Publications, Stanford, CA, 2003. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|33.||Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips; Amy Weinberg: Theoretical implications of the parsing of Japanese wh-scrambling constructions. In: Garding, Gina; Tsujimura, Mimu (Ed.): WCCFL22: Proceedings of the 22nd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, pp. 29-42, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 2003. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|32.||Colin Phillips: Parsing: Psycholinguistic aspects. In: International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford University Press, 2003. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|31.||Colin Phillips: Syntax. In: Nadel, Lyn (Ed.): vol. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, no. 4, pp. 319-329, MacMillan Reference, 2003. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|30.||Sachiko Aoshima; Colin Phillips; Amy Weinberg: Active filler effects and reanalysis: A study of Japanese Wh-scrambling constructions. In: vol. 12, pp. 1–24, 2002. (Type: Book Chapter | | | )|
This paper presents evidence for the Active Filler Effect (Frazier & Clifton 1989) in Japanese. The experimental results show that Japanese speakers preferentially associate a fronted wh-phrase with the first potential scope marker, even when that is contained in an embedded clause. This finding allows us to propose two refinements to the Active Filler Strategy's operation for all languages. We suggest that (i) the Active Filler Strategy results from the parser’s rapid attempt to associate an operator with a q-marked variable position, and that (ii) the parser is able to rescind existing commitments in order to satisfy other constraints. Results from a self-paced reading experiment indicate that a fronted wh-phrase is associated with the embedded verb, an association which we argue suggests reanalysis from an initial matrix clause association.
|29.||Colin Phillips: Constituency in deletion and movement. 2002, (Remarks on Lechner (2001)). (Type: Unpublished | | )|
|28.||Colin Phillips: Review of "A model-based psycholinguistic study of semantic contrast" (Sedivy 1997). In: Glot International, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 25-32, 2001. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|27.||Colin Phillips: Levels of representation in the electrophysiology of speech perception. In: Cognitive Science, vol. 25, pp. 711-731, 2001. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Mapping from acoustic signals to lexical representations is a complex process mediated by a number of different levels of representation. This paper reviews properties of the phonetic and phonological levels, and hypotheses about how category structure is represented at each of these levels, and evaluates these hypotheses in light of relevant electrophysiological studies of phonetics and phonology. The paper examines evidence for two alternative views of how infant phonetic represen- tations develop into adult representations, a structure-changing view and a structure-adding view, and suggests that each may be better suited to different kinds of phonetic categories. Electrophysiological results are beginning to provide information about phonological representations, but less is known about how the more abstract representations at this level could be coded in the brain.
|26.||Nina Kazanina; Colin Phillips: Coreference in child Russian: distinguishing syntactic and discourse constraints. In: Do, Anna; Domínguez, Laura; Johansen, Aimee (Ed.): BUCLD 25: Proceedings of the 25th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 413-424, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 2001. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|25.||David Schneider; Colin Phillips: Grammatical search and reanalysis. In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 308-336, 2001. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This paper investigates the extent to which existing structural commitments constrain the human parser’s search for grammatical analyses of incoming material, specifically whether a Reanalysis As a Last Resort (RALR) strategy applies to sentence parsing. Two self-paced reading experiments investigate this issue using a structural ambiguity in which a local, easy reanalysis is pitted against a nonlocal attachment requiring no re- analysis. This ambiguity is created by embedding classic noun phrase/sentential complement ambiguities inside a relative clause modifying a subject NP. The results of both experiments indicate that readers’ existing structural commitments do constrain their subsequent parsing decisions: nonlocal analyses which avoid reanalysis are con- sistently favored over local analyses which require an easy reanalysis. This conclusion is confirmed by the results of a subcategorization-bias manipulation in Experiment 2, which shows that readers show a consistent bias to avoid reanalysis, rather than a general bias for either local or matrix clause attachments.
|24.||Roberta Golinkoff; Colin Phillips: Surveying the field of language acquisition. In: Contemporary Psychology, vol. 45, pp. 607-609, 2000, ((Book review of Bhatia & Ritchie (1999), Handbook of Child Language Acquisition)). (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|23.||Colin Phillips; Thomas Pellathy; Alec Marantz; Elron Yellin; Kenneth Wexler; David Poeppel; Martha McGinnis; Timothy Roberts: Auditory cortex accesses phonological categories: an MEG mismatch study. In: Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 1038-1055, 2000. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The studies presented here use an adapted oddball paradigm to show evidence that representations of discrete phonological categories are available to the human auditory cortex. Brain activity was recorded using a 37-channel biomagnetometer while eight subjects listened passively to synthetic speech sounds. In the phonological condition, which contrasted stimuli from an acoustic /dñ/±/tñ/ continuum, a magnetic mismatch field (MMF) was elicited in a sequence of stimuli in which phonological categories occurred in a many- to-one ratio, but no acoustic many-to-one ratio was present. In order to isolate the contribution of phonological categories to the MMF responses, the acoustic parameter of voice onset time, which distinguished standard and deviant stimuli, was also varied within the standard and deviant categories. No MMF was elicited in the acoustic condition, in which the acoustic distribution of stimuli was identical to the first experiment, but the many-to-one distribution of phonological categories was removed. The design of these studies makes it possible to demonstrate the all-or-nothing property of phonological category membership. This approach contrasts with a number of previous studies of phonetic perception using the mismatch paradigm, which have demonstrated the graded property of enhanced acoustic discrimination at or near phonetic category boundaries.
|22.||Colin Phillips; Thomas Pellathy; Alec Marantz: Phonological feature representations in auditory cortex. 2000. (Type: Unpublished | | | )|
Although phonemes are the smallest linguistic units that speakers are usually aware of, a good deal of linguistic evidence indicates that sub-phonemic features are the smallest building blocks of language. We present evidence from biomagnetic studies that indicate that representations of discrete phonological feature categories are available to left-hemisphere auditory cortex. Sequences of voiced (/bæ, dæ, gæ/) and voiceless (/pæ, tæ, kæ/) consonants were contrasted in a modified auditory mismatch paradigm. Importantly, although sounds contrasted in a many-to-one ratio at the level of phonological features, the use of 12 acoustically diverse tokens of each category ensured that there was no many-to- one ratio at the acoustic level. Therefore, the fact that an auditory cortex mismatch response was elicited confirms that feature representations are available to this part of the brain. Strikingly, however, the ability of auditory cortex to form a feature-level category from groups of diverse sounds appears to be strongly left- lateralized.
|21.||Meesook Kim; Barbara Landau; Colin Phillips: Cross-linguistic differences in children's syntax for locative verbs. In: Greenhill, Annabel; Littlefield, Heather; Tano, Cheryl (Ed.): BUCLD23: Proceedings of the 23rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 337-348, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 1999. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|20.||Meesook Kim; Colin Phillips: Complex verb constructions in child Korean: overt markers of covert functional structure. In: Greenhill, Annabel; Hughes, Mary; Littlefield, Heather; Walsh, Hugh (Ed.): BUCLD22: Proceedings of the 22nd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 430-441, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 1998. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|19.||Colin Phillips: Disagreement between adults and children. In: Mendikoetxea, Amaya; Uribe-Etxebarria, Myriam (Ed.): Theoretical Issues on the Morphology-Syntax Interface, pp. 359–394, ASJU, San Sebastian, 1998. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|18.||Kensuke Sekihara; David Poeppel; Alec Marantz; Colin Phillips; Hideaki Koizumi; Yasushi Miyashita: MEG covariance difference analysis: a method to extract target source activities by using task and control measurements. In: IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 87–97, 1998. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
A method is proposed for extracting target dipole- source activities from two sets of evoked magnetoencephalo- graphic (MEG) data, one measured using task stimuli and the other using control stimuli. The difference matrix between the two covariance matrices obtained from these two measurements is calculated, and a procedure similar to the MEG-multiple signal classification (MUSIC) algorithm is applied to this difference matrix to extract the target dipole-source configuration. This configuration corresponds to the source-configuration difference between the two measurements. Computer simulation verified the validity of the proposed method. The method was applied to actual evoked-field data obtained from simulated task-and- control experiments. In these measurements, a combination of auditory and somatosensory stimuli was used as the task stimulus and the somatosensory stimulus alone was used as the control stimulus. The proposed covariance difference analysis success- fully extracted the target auditory source and eliminated the disturbance from the somatosensory sources.
|17.||Krishna K Govindarajan; Colin Phillips; David Poeppel; Timothy PL Roberts; Alec Marantz: Latency of MEG M100 response indexes first formant frequency. In: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 5, pp. 2982–2983, 1998. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
Magnetoencephalographic recordings from the auditory cortex of subjects show a close correlation between the timing of the evoked M100 response and the first formant frequency (F1) of vowels and vowel-like stimuli. These results are compatible with evoked magnetic field latencies elicited by tone stimuli, which show 100-300 Hz tones associated with latencies up to 30 ms longer than 500-3000 Hz tones. In Experiment 1, three- formant vowels /u,a,i/ were presented at two fundamental frequencies. The M100 latency was a function of the vowel identity and not F0: M100 was significantly shorter for /a/ than /u/. In Experiment 2, single-formant vowels were covaried with two F0 values. M100 latencies were shorter for /a/ (high F1) than for /u/ (low F1), at both F0 values. In Experiment 3, subjects listened to pure tone complexes with frequencies and amplitudes matching the F0 and F1 energy peaks of the stimuli in Experiment 2. M100 latencies showed the same pattern: latency covaried with the energy peak corresponding to F1, suggesting that the sensitivity to the energy in the F1 range is not specific just to speech stimuli.
|16.||Colin Phillips: Teaching syntax with Trees. In: Glot International, vol. 3, no. 7, 1998. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
|15.||David Poeppel; Colin Phillips; Elron Yellin; Howard A Rowley; Timothy PL Roberts; Alec Marantz: Processing of vowels in supratemporal auditory cortex. In: Neuroscience letters, vol. 221, no. 2, pp. 145–148, 1997. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The auditory evoked neuromagnetic fields elicited by synthesized vowels of two different fundamental frequencies F0 were recorded in six subjects over the left and right temporal cortices using a 37-channel biomagnetometer. Single equivalent current dipole modeling of the fields elicited by all vowel types localized activity to a well-circumscribed area in supratemporal auditory cortex in both hemispheres. There were hemisphere asymmetries in the amplitude and latency of the M100 response. We also observed changes in M100 latency related to vowel type, but not to F0. There was no clear effect of vowel type or F0 on dipole localization for the M100, but a possible vowel type by latency interaction. These M100 data provide further evidence that vowels are processed independently of their pitch.
|14.||Colin Phillips; Edward Gibson: On the strength of the local attachment preference. In: Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 323–346, 1997. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
This paper investigates the strength of the local attachment preference in syntactic am- biguity resolution, based on a study of a novel ambiguity for which the predictions of local attachment contrast with the predictions of a wide range of other ambiguityres- olution principles. In sentences of theform ''Because Rose praised the recipe I made ..." we show that the ambiguous clause "I made" is preferentially attached as a relative clause under some circumstances, as predicted by local attachment, and pref- erentially attached as a matrix clause under other circumstances. The implications for accounts of locality in parsing are discussed.
|13.||Colin Phillips: Merge right: An approach to constituency conflicts. In: WCCFL XV: Proceedings of the 15th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, pp. 381–395, CSLI Publications, Stanford, CA, 1997. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|12.||Colin Phillips: Root infinitives are finite. In: Stringfellow, Andy; Cahana-Amitay, Dalia; Hughes, Elizabeth; Zukowski, Andrea (Ed.): BUCLD 20: Proceedings of the 20th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, pp. 588-599, Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA, 1996. (Type: Inproceedings | | )|
|11.||Colin Phillips: Order and structure. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996. (Type: PhD Thesis | | | )|
The aim of this thesis is to argue for the following two main points. First, that grammars of natural language construct sentences in a strictly left-to-right fashion, i.e. starting at the beginning of the sentence and ending at the end. Second, that there is no distinction between the grammar and the parser. In the area of phrase structure, I show that the left-to-right derivations forced by the principle Merge Right can account for the apparent contradictions that different tests of constituency show, and that they also provide an explanation for why the different tests yield the results that they do. Phenomena discussed include coordination, movement, ellipsis, binding, right node raising and scope. I present a preliminary account of the interface of phonology and morphology with syntax based on left-to-right derivations. I show that this approach to morphosyntax allows for a uniform account of locality in head movement and clitic placement, explains certain directional asymmetries in phonology-syntax mismatches and head movement, and allows for a tighter connection between syntactic and phonological phrases than commonly assumed. In parsing I argue that a wide range of structural biases in ambiguity resolution can be accounted for by the single principle Branch Right, which favors building right-branching structures wherever possible. Evidence from novel and existing experimental work is presented which shows that Branch Right has broader empirical coverage than other proposed structural parsing principles. Moreover, Branch Right is not a parsing-specific principle: it is independently motivated as an economy principle of syntax in the chapters on syntax. The combination of these results from syntax and parsing makes it possible to claim that the parser and the grammar are identical. The possibility that the parser and the grammar are identical or extremely similar was explored in the early 1960s, but is widely considered to have been discredited by the end of that decade. I show that arguments against this model which were once valid no longer apply given left-to-right syntax and the view of the parser proposed here.
|10.||David Poeppel; Elron Yellin; Colin Phillips; Timothy Roberts; Howard Rowley; Kenneth Wexler; Alec Marantz: Task-induced asymmetry of the auditory evoked M100 neuromagnetic field elicited by speech sounds. In: Cognitive Brain Research, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 231–242, 1996. (Type: Journal Article | | | )|
The auditory evoked neuromagnetic fields elicited by synthesized speech sounds (consonant-vowel syllables) were recorded in six subjects over the left and right temporal cortices using a 37-channel SQUID-based magnetometer. The latencies and amplitudes of the peaks of the M100 evoked responses were bilaterally symmetric for passively presented stimuli. In contrast, when subjects were asked to discriminate among the same syllabic stimuli, the amplitude of the M100 increased in the left and decreased in the right temporal cortices. Single equivalent current dipole modeling of the activity elicited by all stimulus-types localized to a well-circumscribed area in supratemporal auditory cortex. The results suggest that attentional modulation affects the two supratemporal cortices in a differential manner. Task-conditioned attention to speech sounds is reflected in lateralized supratemporal cortical responses possibly concordant with hemispheric language dominance.
|9.||Colin Phillips: Ergative subjects. In: Gerdts, Donna; Dziwirek, Katarzyna; Burgess, Clifford (Ed.): Grammatical Relations, CSLI Publications, Stanford, CA, 1996. (Type: Incollection | | )|
|8.||Colin Phillips: Right association in parsing and grammar. In: Schütze, Carson; Ganger, Jennifer; Broihier, Keven (Ed.): vol. Papers on Language Acquisition and Proce, pp. 37–93, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, vol. 26, 1995. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|7.||Colin Phillips; Alec Marantz; Martha McGinnis; David Pesetsky; Kenneth Wexler; Elron Yellin; David Poeppel; Timothy Roberts; Howard Rowley: Brain mechanisms of speech perception: a preliminary report. In: Schütze, Carson; Ganger, Jennifer; Broihier, Kevin (Ed.): vol. Papers on Language Acquisition and Proce, pp. 125–163, vol. 26, 1995. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|6.||Colin Phillips: Are feature hierarchies autosegmental hierarchies. In: Carnie, Andrew; Harley, Heidi; Bures, Anton (Ed.): vol. Papers on Phonology and Morphology, pp. 173–226, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, vol. 21, 1994. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|5.||Colin Phillips; Heidi Harley (Ed.): The Morphology-syntax Connection: Proceedings of the January 1994 MIT Workshop. 1994. (Type: Collection | )|
|4.||Colin Phillips: Verbal case and the nature of polysynthetic inflection. In: Proceedings of CONSOLE 2, 1994. (Type: Inproceedings | | | )|
This paper tries to resolve a conflict in the literature on the connection between ‘rich’ agreement and argument-drop. Jelinek (1984) claims that inflectional affixes in polysynthetic languages are theta-role bearing arguments; Baker (1991) argues that such affixes are agreement, bearing Case but no theta-role. Evidence from Yimas shows that both of these views can be correct, within a single language. Explanation of what kind of inflection is used where also provides us with an account of the unusual split ergative agreement system of Yimas, and suggests a novel explanation for the ban on subject incorporation, and some exceptions to the ban.
|3.||Colin Phillips: Conditions on agreement in Yimas. In: Bobaljik, Jonathan; Phillips, Colin (Ed.): vol. Papers on Case and Agreement I, pp. 173–213, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, vol. 18, 1993. (Type: Book Chapter | | )|
|2.||Jonathan Bobaljik; Colin Phillips (Ed.): Papers on case and agreement. vol. 18, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 1993. (Type: Book | )|
|1.||Colin Phillips (Ed.): Papers on Case and Agreement II. vol. 19, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 1993. (Type: Book | )|