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Language & Speech

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Concepts embody our knowledge of the kinds of things there are in the world. Tying our past experiences to our present interactions with the environment, they enable us to recognize and understand new objects and events. Concepts are also relevant to understanding domains such as social situations, personality types, and even artistic styles. Yet like other phenomenologically simple cognitive processes such as walking or understanding speech, concept formation and use are maddeningly complex.

The studies in Weaving a Lexicon make a significant contribution to the growing field of lexical acquisition by considering the multidimensional way in which infants and children acquire the lexicon of their native language. They examine the many strands of knowledge and skill—including perceptual sensitivities, conceptual and semantic constraints, and communicative intent— that children must weave together in the process of word learning, and show the different mix of these factors used at different developmental points.

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.MITECD is divided into four sections that reflect the standard categories within the field (also known as speech-language pathology and audiology): Voice, Speech, Language, and Hearing.

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.

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.

Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Brain

A machine for language? Certainly, say the neurophysiologists, busy studying the language specializations of the human brain and trying to identify their evolutionary antecedents. Linguists such as Noam Chomsky talk about machinelike "modules" in the brain for syntax, arguing that language is more an instinct (a complex behavior triggered by simple environmental stimuli) than an acquired skill like riding a bicycle.

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.

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