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Language & Speech

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Edited by Raymond D. Kent

A massive reference work on the scale of MITECS (The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Sciences), The MIT Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders will become the standard reference in this field for both research and clinical use. It offers almost 200 detailed entries, covering the entire range of communication and speech disorders in children and adults, from basic science to clinical diagnosis.

The Diversity of Wh-Constructions

This book can be read on two levels: as a novel empirical study of wh- interrogatives and relative constructions in a variety of languages and as a theoretical investigation of chain formation in grammar.

This is a representative collection of the work of one of the world's leading scholars in the area of speech acoustics. It follows the development over the past 15 years of research presented in the author's previous publications on speech analysis, feature theory, and applications to language descriptions. Most of the articles have had very restricted distribution—many appearing only in the Quarterly Progress Reports issued by Dr. Fant's laboratory.

Edited by Brian Scholl

One of the most important and controversial topics in the field of visual attention is the nature of the units of attentional selection. Traditional models have characterized attention in spatial terms, as a "spotlight" that moves around the visual field, applying processing resources to whatever falls within that spatial region. Recent models of attention, in contrast, suggest that in some cases the underlying units of selection are discrete visual objects and that attention may be limited by the number of objects that can be simultaneously selected.

In Phrase Structure Composition and Syntactic Dependencies, Robert Frank explores an approach to syntactic theory that weds the Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG) formalism with the minimalist framework. TAG has been extensively studied both for its mathematical properties and for its usefulness in computational linguistics applications. Frank shows that incorporating TAG's formally restrictive operations for structure building considerably simplifies the model of grammatical competence, particularly in the components concerned with syntactic movement and locality.

How do children learn that the word "dog" refers not to all four-legged animals, and not just to Ralph, but to all members of a particular species? How do they learn the meanings of verbs like "think," adjectives like "good," and words for abstract entities such as "mortgage" and "story"? The acquisition of word meaning is one of the fundamental issues in the study of mind.

In this book Mark Steedman argues that the surface syntax of natural languages maps spoken and written forms directly to a compositional semantic representation that includes predicate-argument structure, quantification, and information structure, without constructing any intervening structural representation.

Recent work in theoretical syntax has revealed the strong explanatory power of the notions of economy, competition, and optimization. Building grammars entirely upon these elements, Optimality Theory syntax provides a theory of universal grammar with a formally precise and strongly restricted theory of universal typology: cross-linguistic variation arises exclusively from the conflict among universal principles.

The Integration of Habits and Rules

Using sentence comprehension as a case study for all of cognitive science, David Townsend and Thomas Bever offer an integration of two major approaches, the symbolic-computational and the associative-connectionist. The symbolic-computational approach emphasizes the formal manipulation of symbols that underlies creative aspects of language behavior. The associative-connectionist approach captures the intuition that most behaviors consist of accumulated habits.

From Birth to Two Years

That children learn to speak so skillfully at a young age has long fascinated adults. Most children virtually master their native tongue even before learning to tie their shoelaces. The ability to acquire language has historically been regarded as a "gift"—a view given scientific foundation only in the present century by Noam Chomsky's theory of "universal grammar," which posits an innate knowledge of the principles that structure all languages.

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