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Language & Speech

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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.

In this delightful, accessible book, psycholinguist Bénédicte de Boysson-Bardies presents a broad picture of language development, from fetal development to the toddler years, and examines a wide range of puzzling questions: How do newborns recognize elements of speech? How do they distinguish them from nonspeech sounds? How do they organize and analyze them? How do they ultimately come to understand and reproduce these sounds? Finally, how does the ability to communicate through language emerge in children? Boysson-Bardies also addresses questions of particular interest to parents, such as whether one should speak to children in a special way to facilitate language learning and whether there is cause to worry when a twenty-month-old child does not yet speak. Although the author provides a clear summary of the current state of language acquisition theory, the special appeal of the book lies in her research and "dialogue" with her many young subjects.

An Introduction to Minimalist Syntax

This unusual book takes the form of a dialogue between a linguist and another scientist. The dialogue takes place over six days, with each day devoted to a particular topic—and the ensuing digressions. The role of the linguist is to present the fundamentals of the minimalist program of contemporary generative grammar. Although the linguist serves essentially as a voice for Noam Chomsky's ideas, he is not intended to be a portrait of Chomsky himself. The other scientist functions as a kind of devil's advocate, making the arguments that linguists tend to face from those in the "harder" sciences.

The author does far more than simply present the minimalist program. He conducts a running argument over the status of theoretical linguistics as a natural science. He raises the general issues of how we conceive words, phrases, and transformations, and what these processes tell us about the human mind. He also attempts to reconcile generative grammar with the punctuated equilibrium version of evolutionary theory.

In his foreword, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini says, "The vast number of readers who have been enthralled by Goedel, Escher, Bach may well like also this syntactic companion, a sort of 'Chomsky, Fibonacci, Bach.'".

The Discovery of Spoken Language marks one of the first efforts to integrate the field of infant speech perception research into the general study of language acquisition. It fills in a key part of the acquisition story by providing an extensive review of research on the acquisition of language during the first year of life, focusing primarily on how normally developing infants learn the organization of native language sound patterns.

Peter Jusczyk examines the initial capacities that infants possess for discriminating and categorizing speech sounds and how these capacities evolve as infants gain experience with native language input. Jusczyk also looks at how infants' growing knowledge of native language sound patterns may facilitate the acquisition of other aspects of language organization and discusses the relationship between the learner's developing capacities for perceiving and producing speech.

Essays in Honor of Henry and Lila Gleitman

These original empirical research essays in the psychology of perception, cognition, and language were written in honor of Henry and Lila Gleitman, two of the most prominent psychologists of our time. The essays range across fields foundational to cognitive science, including perception, attention, memory, and language, using formal, experimental, and neuroscientific approaches to issues of representation and learning. An introduction provides a historical perspective on the development of the field from the 1960s onward. The contributors have all been colleagues and students of the Gleitmans, and the collection celebrates their influence on the field of cognitive science.

Cynthia Fisher, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Katherine Hirsh-Pasek, John Jonides, Phillip Kellman, Michael Kelly, Donald S. Lamm, Barbara Landau, Jack Nachmias, Letitia Naigles, Elissa Newport, W. Gerrod Parrott, Daniel Reisberg, Robert A. Rescorla, Paul Rozin, John Sabini, Elizabeth Shipley, Thomas F. Shipley, John C. Trueswell.

The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature

When we speak, we mean more than we say. In this book Stephen C. Levinson explains some general processes that underlie presumptions in communication. This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades. Levinson outlines a theory of presumptive meanings, or preferred interpretations, governing the use of language, building on the idea of implicature developed by the philosopher H. P. Grice. Some of the indirect information carried by speech is presumed by default because it is carried by general principles, rather than inferred from specific assumptions about intention and context. Levinson examines this class of general pragmatic inferences in detail, showing how they apply to a wide range of linguistic constructions. This approach has radical consequences for how we think about language and communication.

Embodied conversational agents are computer-generated cartoon-like characters that demonstrate many of the same properties as humans in face-to-face conversation, including the ability to produce and respond to verbal and nonverbal communication. They constitute a type of (a) multimodal interface where the modalities are those natural to human conversation: speech, facial displays, hand gestures, and body stance; (b) software agent, insofar as they represent the computer in an interaction with a human or represent their human users in a computational environment (as avatars, for example); and (c) dialogue system where both verbal and nonverbal devices advance and regulate the dialogue between the user and the computer. With an embodied conversational agent, the visual dimension of interacting with an animated character on a screen plays an intrinsic role. Not just pretty pictures, the graphics display visual features of conversation in the same way that the face and hands do in face-to-face conversation among humans.

This book describes research in all aspects of the design, implementation, and evaluation of embodied conversational agents as well as details of specific working systems. Many of the chapters are written by multidisciplinary teams of psychologists, linguists, computer scientists, artists, and researchers in interface design. The authors include Elisabeth Andre, Norm Badler, Gene Ball, Justine Cassell, Elizabeth Churchill, James Lester, Dominic Massaro, Cliff Nass, Sharon Oviatt, Isabella Poggi, Jeff Rickel, and Greg Sanders.

Approximately five percent of all children are born with the disorder known as specific language impairment (SLI). These children show a significant deficit in spoken language ability with no obvious accompanying condition such as mental retardation, neurological damage, or hearing impairment. Children with Specific Language Impairment covers all aspects of SLI, including its history, possible genetic and neurobiological origins, and clinical and educational practice. The book highlights important research strategies in the quest to find the cause of SLI and to develop methods of prevention and treatment. It also explores how knowledge of SLI may add to our understanding of language organization and development in general.

Proceedings of the 1999 International Conference on Logic Programming

The International Conference on Logic Programming, sponsored by the Association for Logic Programming, includes tutorials, lectures, and refereed papers on all aspects of logic programming, including theoretical foundations, constraints, concurrency and parallelism, deductive databases, language design and implementation, nonmonotonic reasoning, and logic programming and the Internet.

In the information age, reading is one of the most important cognitive skills an individual acquires. A scientific understanding of this skill is important to help optimize its acquisition and performance. This book offers an interdisciplinary look at the acquisition, loss, and remediation of normal reading processes. Its two main goals are to illustrate, through state-of-the-art examples, various approaches used by scientists to understand the complex skill of reading and its breakdown, and to stimulate innovative research strategies that combine these methods. The book is divided into five sections: normal adult reading and its development, developmental dyslexia, varieties of brain- damaged reading, neuroimaging, and computational modeling.Contributors : Marlene Behrmann, Derek Besner, Lori Buchanan, Thomas H. Carr, John C. DeFries, Jonathan B. Demb, Martha J. Farah, Helen Forsberg, John Gabrieli, Javier Gayan, Usha Goswami, Nancy Hilderbrandt, Betty Ann Levy, Maureen W. Lovett, G. E. MacKinnon, Michael E. J. Masson, Bruce D. McCandliss, Richard K. Olson, David C. Plaut, Russell A. Poldrack, Michael L. Posner, Keith Rayner.

In this introductory-level linguistics text, Steven E. Weisler and Slavko Milekic develop a theoretically motivated analysis of language with an emphasis on grammar construction and argumentation. They introduce the theory of language, sounds, words, sentences, and meaning, as well as language and the brain.The text is available either in hard-copy form or as a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM presents the text in a dynamic digital learning environment, engaging the user in simulations, demonstrations, hypothesis testing, and theory construction while providing a systematic introduction to linguistic theory. The electronic edition also incorporates the Tree Builder tool for construction and evaluation of phonological, metrical, and syntactic analysis of trees, as well as a word processor, various annotation mechanisms (for example, the ability to create and exchange voice and text memos), import/export capabilities that allow the exchange of different types of information, and an extensive series of interviews with such prominent figures as David Caplan, Noam Chomsky, Lyn Frazier, John Rickford, Tom Roeper, Ivan Sag, and Tom Wasow.

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