To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
This chapter examines the reciprocal relation between intelligence and achievement, particularly within academic domains such as verbal ability and mathematical ability. In particular, the chapter examines the specific knowledge needed for successful performance on tests of verbal ability that focus on decoding or reading comprehension, and tests of mathematical ability that focus on solving arithmetic computation problems or arithmetic word problems.
We investigated whether Tagalog-speaking children incrementally interpret the first noun as the agent, even if verbal and nominal markers for assigning thematic roles are given early in Tagalog sentences. We asked five- and seven-year-old children and adult controls to select which of two pictures of reversible actions matched the sentence they heard, while their looks to the pictures were tracked. Accuracy and eye-tracking data showed that agent-initial sentences were easier to comprehend than patient-initial sentences, but the effect of word order was modulated by voice. Moreover, our eye-tracking data provided evidence that, by the first noun phrase, seven-year-old children looked more to the target in the agent-initial compared to the patient-initial conditions, but this word order advantage was no longer observed by the second noun phrase. The findings support language processing and acquisition models which emphasize the role of frequency in developing heuristic strategies (e.g., Chang, Dell, & Bock, 2006).
We tested whether the proportion of typical sentences in a series of auditory sentences would lead people to adjust the strength of activation of world knowledge (i.e., retrieval rules adaptation) during comprehension. This issue is important because it could help clarify how people efficiently integrate different memory information in cognitive processes. In two experiments, all task materials were presented to participants as a whole package, in which proportions of typical sentences, with typical final locations, varied under different conditions. In Experiment 1, the proportion of typical sentences was equal to the atypical ones (i.e., 50% typical vs. 50% atypical), whereas in Experiment 2, the proportion of typical sentences was not equal to the atypical ones (i.e., 75% typical vs. 25% atypical, and 25% typical vs. 75% atypical). Visual fixation on the critical area in a visual display before/while hearing the critical words was compared across conditions, and across-condition differences were used as an index of the adaptation of the retrieval rule in the activation of world knowledge. The findings indicated that the adaptation of retrieval rules occurs throughout the whole test package of sentence comprehension, and the strength of activation of world knowledge in sentence comprehension can be adjusted.
Subject–verb (SV) agreement helps listeners interpret the number condition of ambiguous nouns (The sheep is/are fat), yet it remains unclear whether young children use agreement to comprehend newly encountered nouns. Preschoolers and adults completed a forced choice task where sentences contained singular vs. plural copulas (Where is/are the [novel noun(s)]?). Novel nouns were either morphologically unambiguous (tup/tups) or ambiguous (/geks/ = singular: gex / plural: gecks). Preschoolers (and some adults) ignored the singular copula, interpreting /ks/-final words as plural, raising questions about the role of SV agreement in learners’ sentence comprehension and the status of is in Australian English.
People make comprehension easier by predicting upcoming language. We might therefore expect prediction to occur during the extremely difficult task of simultaneous interpreting. This paper examines the theoretical and empirical foundations of this premise. It reviews accounts of prediction during comprehension in both monolinguals and bilinguals, and discusses these theories in light of experimental data (e.g., using the visual-world paradigm). It considers how these accounts may be applied to the unique and ecologically valid context of simultaneous interpreting, when two languages are used concurrently, one overtly engaging the comprehension system, and the other overtly engaging the production system. It then posits a role for the production system in prediction during comprehension and develops a theoretical framework for prediction-by-production in simultaneous interpreting that has implications for our understanding of prediction during language comprehension.
The English dative alternation has received much attention in the literature on argument structure acquisition in children. However, the data on the acquisition of this alternation have consistently revealed a counter-intuitive pattern: children look more proficient with the lower frequency prepositional form of the dative than with the higher frequency double object form (Conwell & Demuth, 2007; Rowland & Noble, 2010). This may be because the DO dative typically occurs with pronominal argument types in first post-verbal position, which may result in an over-reliance on stereotyped forms (e.g., give + me) for early comprehension and production (Conwell, O'Donnell, & Snedeker, 2011). This paper presents three studies of the effects of the pronoun me on dative comprehension by three-year-olds. Children's comprehension of the DO dative improved significantly when the first post-verbal argument was pronominal; no other effects of pronoun use were significant. Children's experience affects their ability to use lexically general representations of syntactic structures.
The present study explores whether embodied meaning is activated in comprehension of action-related Mandarin counterfactual sentences. Participants listened to action-related Mandarin factual or counterfactual sentences describing transfer events (actions towards or away from the participant), and then performed verb-compatible or -incompatible motor action after a transfer verb (action towards or away from the participant) onset. The results demonstrated that motor simulation, specifically the interfering action-sentence compatibility effect (ACE), was obtained in both factual and counterfactual sentences. Additionally, the temporal course of motor resonance was slightly different between factual and counterfactual sentences. We concluded that embodied meaning was activated in action-related Chinese counterfactual sentences. The results supported a neural network model of Chersi, Thill, Ziemke, and Borghi (2010), proposed within the embodiment approach, which explains the interaction between processing action-related sentences and motor performance. Moreover, we speculated that the neural network model of Chersi et al. was also applicable to action-related Mandarin counterfactual comprehension.
Some pronouns can refer to entities that vary widely in scope. In some cases, the referent might be a noun phrase, and in other cases it might be a whole proposition. In the cases of pronouns with a noun phrase antecedent, an already existing referent is reactivated from the preceding context. In the case of pronouns with a propositional antecedent, the referent must be reformulated. The interpretation and use of such pronouns was investigated in 150 eight-year-old children in a reading comprehension task. Experiment 1 used a referent specification task and Experiment 2 used a completion task. It was more difficult for children to process a pronoun when its antecedent was a proposition compared to a noun phrase. These results are in line with the linguistic approaches (e.g., Gundel et al., 2005) according to which processing of pronouns with a propositional antecedent is more complex and requires greater cognitive effort.
Jary and Kissine examine the meaning of imperative sentences, taking the existing relevance-theoretic semantic analysis, in terms of the desirability and potentiality of the described state of affairs, as their point of departure. In their view, a complete account of the interpretation of imperatives has to explain how they can result in the addressee forming an intention to perform an action, and this requires the theory to make room for ‘action representations’ (in addition to factual representations, such as assumptions). They claim that the imperative form is uniquely specified to interface with such action representations.
Anne Bezuidenhout shows how the meaning of noun-noun compounds cannot be predicted by linguistic rules but must allow for a component of context-specific relevance-based inference. She reviews several approaches which attempt to provide semantic and/or statistical (bigram frequency-based) accounts of the meaning of compounds but finds none of these fully adequate. She concludes that such accounts inevitably have to be supplemented by local pragmatic processes of concept narrowing and broadening (ad hoc concept construction) such as those developed within the relevance-theoretic framework.
This chapter explores "comprehension asymmetries," which occur when speakers have a greater ability to understand or process information relative to their target audiences. By synthesizing work from economics, communications theory, and information theory, we offer a simple conceptual model for understanding and locating comprehension asymmetries in legal programs.
Nobel prize-winning economist Herbert Simon warned more than 70 years ago that if we did not find a way to manage the flood of information that threatens to overwhelm us, we would find ourselves unable to make sense of it. This short introductory chapter explores the various ways that legal architects have failed to heed Simon's warning in legal areas as diverse as consumer protection, financial regulation, patents, chemical control, and administrative and legislative process. A number of significant legal programs in the U.S. are designed to facilitate the sharing of complete information, yet these programs often neglect to ensure that the information is also comprehensible to the target audience.
Language development requires children to learn how to understand ambiguous pronouns, as in Panda Bear is having lunch with Puppy. He wants a pepperoni slice. Adults tend to link he with Puppy, the prior grammatical subject, but young children either fail to exhibit this bias (Arnold, Brown-Schmidt & Trueswell, 2007) or do so more slowly than adults (Hartshorne et al., 2015a; Song & Fisher, 2005). In the current study, we test whether language exposure affects this bias in elementary-school-age children. Children listened to stories like the one above, and answered questions like “Who wants a pepperoni slice?” which reveal their pronoun interpretation. Individual variation in the rate of selecting the subject character correlated with measures of print exposure, such that children who read more are more likely to follow the subject bias. This is the first study to establish that print exposure affects spoken pronoun comprehension in children.
Usage-based approaches to language acquisition posit that first (L1) and second language (L2) speakers should process more frequent compositional phrases, which have a meaning derivable from word parts, faster than less frequent ones (e.g., Bybee, 2010; Ellis, 2011). Although this prediction has received increasing empirical support, methodological limitations in previous relevant studies include a lack of control of frequencies of subparts of target phrases and scant attention to L2 production. Addressing these limitations, the current study tested phrase frequency effects in both language comprehension and production in two respective experiments, in which adult native English speakers (N = 51) and English L2 learners (N = 52) completed a timed phrasal decision task and an elicited oral production task. Experiment 1 revealed phrase frequency effects in both groups, lending support to usage-based researchers’ proposal that L1 and L2 speakers retain memory of word co-occurrences and that compositional phrase processing reflects an accumulation of statistics in previously encountered input. Experiment 2, however, provided weaker evidence for phrase frequency effects in these participant groups. Based on the results and previous empirical studies, methodological issues that may have impacted frequency effects and implications for future work in this area are discussed.
In the 1980s, John Reynolds postulated that a parametrically polymorphic function is an ad-hoc polymorphic function satisfying a uniformity principle. This allowed him to prove that his set-theoretic semantics has a relational lifting which satisfies the Identity Extension Lemma and the Abstraction Theorem. However, his definition (and subsequent variants) has only been given for specific models. In contrast, we give a model-independent axiomatic treatment by characterising Reynolds’ definition via a universal property, and show that the above results follow from this universal property in the axiomatic setting.
In two lexical-decision experiments, we investigated the processing of figurative and literal meaning in idioms. Dutch native and German–Dutch bilingual speakers responded to target words presented after a minimal context idiom prime (e.g., ‘He kicked the bucket’). Target words were related to the figurative meaning of the prime (‘die’), the literal word at the end of the idiom (‘water’), or unrelated to both (‘face’). We observed facilitation in RTs for figuratively and literally related targets relative to unrelated targets for both participant groups. A higher frequency idiom-final word caused inhibition in responses to the literally related target for native speakers, indicating competition between the idiom as a whole and its literal word constituents. Native speakers further showed sensitivity to transparency of the idiom's meaning and the plausibility of the idiom as a literally interpretable sentence. The results are interpreted in terms of available L1/L2 idiom comprehension models, and a more detailed processing account for literal and idiomatic sentence interpretation.
Objectives: This study examined the effects of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) on sentence and word comprehension in healthy adults. Methods: Healthy adult participants, aged between 19 and 30 years, received either a-tDCS over the left inferior frontal gyrus (n=18) or sham stimulation (n=18). Participants completed sentence comprehension and word comprehension tasks before and during stimulation. Accuracy and reaction times (RTs) were recorded as participants completed both tasks. Results: a-tDCS was found to significantly decrease RT on the sentence comprehension task compared to baseline. There was no change in RT following sham stimulation. a-tDCS was not found to have a significant effect on accuracy. Also, a-tDCS did not affect accuracy or RTs on the word comprehension task. Conclusions: The study provides evidence that non-invasive anodal electrical stimulation can modulate sentence comprehension in healthy adults, at least compared to their baseline performance. (JINS, 2019, 25, 331–335)
How do we communicate our pain to others? The challenge of conveying such a highly individual experience in words is faced daily by many sufferers of chronic pain and their doctors. Moreover, such linguistic strategies are especially relevant in situations where no obvious reference to physical injuries or tissue damage can be made. Neurolinguistically, this question is directly linked to understanding the brain mechanisms behind the encoding, storage, and comprehension of word meanings. An influential view posits that comprehension involves mentally simulating sensorimotor experiences which words refer to. Here, we test the hypothesis that both pain word comprehension and first-hand experiences of pain rely on a common neural substrate, leading to a prediction that word processing should modulate the perception of noxious stimuli. We used a priming task and asked neurotypical and chronic pain participants to read sentences containing literal or metaphoric pain descriptors, and then rate the intensity of thermal pain stimuli. We found that pain language comprehension modulated participants’ ratings of pain intensity. Furthermore, this effect depended on linguistic context as well as individual pain history. We discuss our findings within the larger theoretical debate on the nature of semantic representations, and point to their potential relevance for clinical practice.
Decoding and language comprehension skills have been found to be the core components of reading comprehension across many writing systems. The present study examined the contributions of vocabulary and some discourse-level skills to reading comprehension in Chinese in addition to that of decoding. One hundred and seventeen Chinese second and third graders in Hong Kong were tested on decoding, vocabulary, discourse-level skills, and verbal working memory. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that the discourse-level skills contributed an additional 5% of variance to reading comprehension over decoding, vocabulary, and other control variables, and all factors accounted for a total of 70% variance in reading comprehension. Further path analysis showed that all the direct paths of word reading, vocabulary, text-structure knowledge, and topic knowledge to reading comprehension were significant. Vocabulary also contributed to reading comprehension through indirect paths to discourse-level knowledge. The present findings support the simple view of reading with elaborations on the language comprehension component, namely, (a) vocabulary is a foundational language skill for text comprehension through its role on discourse-level knowledge, and (b) some discourse-level knowledge also plays an important role in passage comprehension.
Morphological awareness (MA) is an important predictor of reading outcomes in different languages. The consonantal root is a salient feature of Arabic lexical structure and critical to MA. The goals of this study were to (a) develop a measure of root awareness (RA) as one dimension of MA in Arabic, and (b) validate the RA measure by predicting reading outcomes in an Arabic population. A set of RA items was administered to 194 Arabic-speaking third-grade children. A one-factor model was specified using confirmatory factor analysis to examine the model fit of the RA measure. A structural equation model was then developed to examine the relation between the RA measure and important reading outcome measures including word reading, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. The results of these analyses indicated good model fit, and the RA measure accounted for a substantial portion of the variance in the outcomes. The establishment of the RA measure is an important preliminary step to efficiently assessing MA in Arabic and could serve as an integral tool for studying reading development.