Research team

Centre for Computational Linguistics and Psycholinguistics (CLiPS)

Expertise

Talks on literacy development and spelling problems.

Errors outside the lab: the interaction of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic variables in the production of verb spelling errors in informal computer-mediated communication. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

We will investigate how social and mental processes interact in the production of spelling errors in informal computer-mediated communication (CMC). Unlike many CMC-studies, the research will not focus on prototypical CMC-features, but on unintentional spelling deviations on verb forms whose pronunciation corresponds to two spelling forms (homophones). We will study an extensive corpus of informal CMC produced by Flemish adolescents. The correct rendering of verb homophones presupposes the time-consuming application of grammatically informed spelling rules. Psycholinguistic findings show that, when working memory runs out of resources, the higherfrequency homophone can cause intrusion errors. While we expect social variables to affect (1) the NUMBER of spelling errors, we assume that they are less likely to affect (2) the PATTERN of these errors. Hypothesis (1) is inspired by sociolinguistic findings on gender and age differences with respect to norm sensitivity. Norm sensitivity should affect working-memory (conscious processing); hence, only error rates. We will also include the youngsters' educational track. Hypothesis (2) is related to the online writing process, which triggers speedy interaction. We will investigate whether the CMC-context leads to the same intrusion errors that writers find so hard to control under time-pressure. This interdisciplinary approach should lead to innovative contributions to psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and CMC-studies. -

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The role of semantics in modeling the bilingual mental lexicon. 01/10/2018 - 18/06/2020

Abstract

Bilinguals, people who simultaneously know and use two or more languages, are an interesting source of clues for discovering the internal make-up of our language system. Specifically, it is interesting how bilinguals are able to reliably access the right words in the right language without making mistakes, even though languages contain significant amounts of overlap in terms of semantics, orthography and phonology. In computational psycholinguistics, we model phenomena such as word retrieval via computer models. Despite the fact that we do not have access to the actual word store embedded in our mind, modeling can provide us with clues as to how it is organized, more particularly, by constructing models that can simulate key findings in psycholinguistic experiments. Having said that, current models for bilingual word reading can account for most of the facts, but largely underspecify a crucial component of our day-to-day word retrieval: meaning. Moreover, and related to this shortcoming, most models of word access have only modeled words in isolation. In reality, however, words are always embedded in sentences and larger linguistic and non-linguistic contexts, which also influence the way we access our words. By creating models of sentence processing, we can make sure that meaning has a more central role in our models, and thereby give new explanations for several phenomena in bilingual word processing.

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The role of semantics in modeling the bilingual mental lexicon. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Bilinguals, people who simultaneously know and use two or more languages, are an interesting source of clues for discovering the internal make-up of our language system. Specifically, it is interesting how bilinguals are able to reliably access the right words in the right language without making mistakes, even though languages contain significant amounts of overlap in terms of semantics, orthography and phonology. In computational psycholinguistics, we model phenomena such as word retrieval via computer models. Despite the fact that we do not have access to the actual word store embedded in our mind, modeling can provide us with clues as to how it is organized, more particularly, by constructing models that can simulate key findings in psycholinguistic experiments. Having said that, current models for bilingual word reading can account for most of the facts, but largely underspecify a crucial component of our day-to-day word retrieval: meaning. Moreover, and related to this shortcoming, most models of word access have only modeled words in isolation. In reality, however, words are always embedded in sentences and larger linguistic and non-linguistic contexts, which also influence the way we access our words. By creating models of sentence processing, we can make sure that meaning has a more central role in our models, and thereby give new explanations for several phenomena in bilingual word processing.

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Cognitive control in the lexical processing of interlingual and intralingual homographs. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

The research project has two major objectives: 1. An in-depth study of cognitive control in the process of visual word recognition 2. The integration of research on intralingual and interlingual lexical processing

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What masked words can do: Preactivation or Retrospective recruitment? 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

The purpose of the present research proposal is to find out whether Bodner & Masson's view can be upheld. The general rationale that will guide all experiments is the question whether masked priming effects activate episodic memory traces when access to lexical memory (the mental lexicon) is sufficient for performing the experimental task. This general question will be approached in two ways: (i) can masked primes access episodic traces that were created in a training phase prior to the experiment and (ii) do masked primes themselves leave episodic traces?

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Abstract rules or statistical learning? The impact of lexical and sublexical homophony in spelling and reading homophonous verb forms. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

Homophone intrusions in the spelling of regularly inflected Dutch verb forms are used to address a central question in psycholinguistics – and cognitive science in general: do people rely on symbolic mental rules or on a knowledge base that captures the co-occurrence probabilities in the learning domain (statistical learning)? Earlier findings in our research group indicated an effect of homophone dominance in the pattern of intrusion errors when spelling homophonic verb forms: such errors occur more often when the target is the lower-frequency homophone and the intruder the higher-frequency homophone. This is compatible with a statistical learning view but cannot reject a rule-based account enriched with a frequency-sensitive mechanism. To disentangle the two accounts we will compare error patterns in the lexical and sublexical domains. An effect of homophone dominance at the sublexical level cannot be explained by a rule model. Errors in the lexical and sublexical domains will be studied in spelling and reading tasks. Finally, we will attempt to simulate the experimental patterns with two types of computational models: a symbolic model, using morphemes and rules, and a memory-based model, storing whole word forms only and using a similarity metric that can 'discover' patterns in its memory store. Together, the experimental and simulation data should enable us to formulate an answer to the question about mental rules.

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What masked words can do: Preactivation or Retrospective recruitment? 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The purpose of the present research proposal is to find out whether Bodner & Masson's view can be upheld. The general rationale that will guide all experiments is the question whether masked priming effects activate episodic memory traces when access to lexical memory (the mental lexicon) is sufficient for performing the experimental task. This general question will be approached in two ways: (i) can masked primes access episodic traces that were created in a training phase prior to the experiment and (ii) do masked primes themselves leave episodic traces?

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The source of masked priming effects: lexical or episodic memory? 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

Masked priming is a technique in which a word is presented so briefly that it cannot be consciously perceived, while at the same time it has an effect on the processing speed of a subsequently presented word. For this reason the technique is often used to investigate the nature of memory structures and processes underlying word recognition. However, recently the lexical nature of these masked priming effects has been called into question by Bodner and Masson (2003, 2004, 2006). Do these effects reflect the structure of the mental lexicon or do they reflect residual activation in episodic memory, where personal experiences are stored? A series of experiments is planned to investigate whether a lexical interpretation of the effect can be defended. Given the popularity of the technique the results of this research can have far-reaching consequences with respect to the theory formation on the mental lexicon.

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What verbs want: an exemplar-based model of human sentence processing. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Conceptual viewpoints: Elements of a cognitive account of English tense. 01/10/2006 - 31/03/2008

Abstract

The main objective of this project is to provide an abstract and comprehensive account of English tense, on the basis of cognitive mechanisms which may be independently motivated. The empirical work on tense, aspect, and modal markers in English will serve to inform this account, which aims at a level of explicitness deemed necessary for the purpose of modeling a language's tense system.

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Literacy development in bilingual children: Evidence from French-English and French-Dutch Immersion programs. 01/06/2006 - 31/05/2008

Abstract

Literacy development in bilingual children: Evidence from French-English and French-Dutch Immersion programs.

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The link between implicit segmentation patterns and the development of explicit segmentation, reading, and writing skills. 01/10/2004 - 20/11/2007

Abstract

The longitudinal study examines how prereaders at an unconscious (implicit) and intentional (explicit) level and investigates whether individual differences in the early, implicit segmentation process are also reflected in the children's later development of explicit segmentation skills, early reading, and writing.

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Situational Factors in Producing Inflected wordforms: a Psycholinguistic and Computational Approach. 01/01/2004 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

The production of inflected word forms like plural of past tenses is traditionally assumed to be a process that relies primarily on morphological, phonological and syntactical characteristics of the base form. Although descriptive grammars also mention metalinguistic factors in this context, they receive no attention in recent influential models of language production such as Steven Pinker's 1999 Words and Rules theory. However, in a recent experiment, we demonstrated that Dutch speakers do rely on metalinguistic information when producing plurals for Dutch pseudowords. Not only do these results undermine Pinker's assumption that Dutch has two default plurals that are applied solely on the basis of phonological information, but they also question whether models that have a rule-bases component are essentially capable of capturing metalinguistic information.

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Time and subjectivity: a cognitive and comparative inquiry into the conceptual status of aspect and tense categories in grammar 01/10/2003 - 30/09/2006

Abstract

This study investigates the relation between categories of tense (and certain manifestations of grammatical aspect) on one hand, and differences in the degree of 'subjectification' marking their semantic pole on the other. Besides their grammatical status as grounding predications, these categories are subject to additional processes of subjectification, operating on the products of grammaticalization and thus transcending the transformation of a lexical into a grammatical predication. They give rise to the development of nonreferential meanings for items containing distinct elements of temporal reference in their prototypical uses. The present study therefore concentrates on usage types that are removed from the description of objective relations in time, moving towards the expression of subjective concerns. It is anticipated that (clausal) grounding predications demonstrate subtle internal as well as external distinctions in subjectivity, and thus in semantic status. Despite the clear focus on English in the case studies that are proposed, these remarks should be construed as holding universally.

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The relevance of an onset-rime structure in implicit and explicit phonological awareness: A cross-linguistic study with English and Dutch speaking preschoolers and beginning readers. 01/03/2003 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

This study examines whether onset and rime are units in the child's developing phonological awareness. The onset-rime hypothesis is widely accepted bu mainly based on English research. Recent experiments in Dutch failed to support this hypothesis. To find out whether language differences account for this dissociation, a systematic cross-linguistic comparison will be conducted with English and Dutch preschoolers and first-graders. Tasks tapping into implicit and explicit phonological awareness will be used (e.g., recall task versus segmentation task).

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Are morphological representations in the mental lexicon modality-specific or modality-independent? An approach through masked cross-modal priming. 01/01/2003 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The purpose of the current project proposal is to build on the existing knowledge from cross-modality effects in written and spoken word processing on the one hand and the priming literature on the other hand. There is a way to make one step forward if we can remove the shortcomings of intra-modal priming. Indeed, in the case of visual-visual-visual priming we cannot really address the issue of cross-modality integration as the phonological information is activated by the visually presented prime and not by an auditory stimulus presented to the participant. Using a different technique would allow us to better address the integration of information that is originally associated with different modalities (i.e., at stimulus input).

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The interaction between phonology and orthography in the process of visual word recognition: does dependency cause unity? 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

In most languages with an alphabetical writing system, the pronunciation of a word is not simply the sum of the pronunciations of all its letters. There are several cases where the pronunciation of one letter is determined by another letter. Compare, e.g. The Dutch words MOOT-MOET-MORT, in which the pronunciation of the letter O is determined by the following letter. Languages do differ in the extent that letters depend on each other for pronunciation. This research project is aimed to establish how such interdependencies between letters with respect to their pronunciation affect the processes in word-recognition. The innovating power of this approach is to place the dissociation of rime effects in English and Dutch in a broader perspective. If one letter's pronunciation is determined by another letter, how does this affect word-recognition? The onset-rime effects are only one specific manifestation of this more general question.

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Incremental semantic processing of sentences: how do we arrive at specific interpretations? 01/10/2001 - 30/09/2004

Abstract

The goal of this proposal is to link notions from my own psycholinguistic research in semantic processing with the most recent linguistic theories in generative semantics. Eye-tracking experiments will be conducted that investigate linguistic principles that have been proposed to describe how enriched semantic interpretations are generated. This way, the Underspecification Model that I proposed for the processing of figurative language can be extended and refined. The ultimate aim is to arrive at a more general model of the on-line, incremental semantic processing of written texts.

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Expertise facilitation for NT2 teachers in adult education. 01/04/2001 - 31/12/2002

Abstract

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    Psycholinguistics: processing and acquisition aspects of reading and spelling. 01/01/2001 - 31/12/2005

    Abstract

    The purpose of this scientific research network is to integrate the Flemish, Dutch, and international expertise in the study of (i) the acquisition of reading and spelling and (ii) the on-line processes in experienced readers and spellers. The central focus is the study of the reading and spelling of words (written word recognition and production), more particularly, the role of phonology and morphology and the importance of the way in which the spelling of the language represents these linguistic dimensions. Concrete goals are: the realisation of joint empirical work by several sub-teams of the research network (experiments, corpus analyses, simulation studies), more particularly within a cross-linguistic perspective, the exchange of expertise in the form of people and tools, and the organisation of workshops and one international conference.

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    Psycholinguistic processes in producing written language: verb spelling errors as a window on the mental lexicon and principles of syntactic processing. 01/01/2001 - 31/12/2002

    Abstract

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      Grounding: the epistemic footing of deixis and reference 01/10/2000 - 30/09/2003

      Abstract

      The project follows two lines of investigation. First, a theoretical frame is set which acknowledges the epistemic nature of grounding. This perspective considers the interpretive qualities that reside in referential functions of nominals and finite verb forms. The way in which grounding predications establish referential locations is not seen as stipulated by their semantics, but as following from general information types that such predications assign to referents, like their reality status or degree of givenness. Secondly, the project involves an empirical program that focuses on a methodological move away from the study of prototypical grounding functions to that peripheral ones, revealing the principles that motivate the referential force of grounding predications. For individual constructions, it is shown how usage types in modal, discursive, and affective contexts are essential to an understanding of their grounding behavior. The analytical apparatus deploys concepts taken from cognitive grammar.

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        Assessment of adult teaching programmes Dutch for non-natives 01/01/1999 - 31/12/2000

        Abstract

        The project attempts to offer an extensive overview of teaching programmes Dutch for non-natives in the province of Antwerp. We want to make an inventory of the official and non-official (voluntary) initiatives. General information is collected (coordinates, description of materals, teaching sites, etc.) as well as quantitativce data ( number of participants, levels of teaching, intensity, etc.) for the period 95-98. After the inventory phase we attempt to describe in a scientifcally valid way the pedagogical project and the organisational context of the official programmes (for the entire province of Antwerp). Finally, we investigate to what extent the programmes Dutch for non-natives mee the needs. With respect to this last issue we will restrict ourselves to a first approach.

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          The status of othographic and phonological units in the initial reading proces. Integration of task dependent and language specific factors. 01/10/1998 - 30/09/2002

          Abstract

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            Computational psycholinguistics : natural and artificial language acquisition and processing. 01/01/1998 - 31/12/2003

            Abstract

            The issue of abstract representations in the domains of language acquisition and adult language processing is addressed in this project. Is it possible to learn a subdomain of language without prior linguistic knowledge in this domein '? Can one achieve the final learning stage (adult performance) without developing abstract representations ? A new methodology will be used to study these questions. The research will explicitly combine the techniques that are used in three separate disciplines: language acquisition research, psycholinguistics, and artificial intelligence. Whereas the former two take the real language learner/user as their object of study, the latter one studies the artificial language learner/user. Thus far artificial learning models have always been used to simulate effects observed in actual language use. Whereas simulation reveals the computational power of the learning system and suggests interesting hypotheses on the real language learner/user, it does not falsify hypotheses generated in, for instance, psycholinguistic work. In our research we want to use artificial language learners/users in a radically different way. Apart from having them simulate effects from real language use we want to isolate factors that affect the models behaviour and then study the effects of these same factors in psycholinguistic experiments and in language acquisition data. In case of a different outcome, the effects observed in real language users can then be used to adept the architecture of the artificial learning model and see whether its performance can eventually be matched to that of the language user. This method of relating the results from acquisition and psycholinguistic research to computational work and vice versa is essentially a heuristic for discovering properties of the representational architecture for language in the real language learner/user. This basic issue, and the methodology to study it, will be approached in two linguistic domains: phonology and inflectional morphology. In phonology, the linguistic representation of stress patterns, phonotactic restrictions, and syllable structure will be studied. In morphology, irregularity effects in the past tense forrnation in Dutch will be used to study the issue of the single-route versus dual-route architecture (i.e., rules for regular forms' a lexicon for the irregular ones). A study of the factors causing interference errors in the spelling of (highly regular) past tense forms in Dutch (regular forms affecting other regulars) will shed light on the issue.

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            Experimental investigations into the processing of figurative language 01/01/1997 - 31/12/2000

            Abstract

            The project intends to find out what role is played by literal meaning during the processing of figurative language when reading. The traditional thesis says that the literal meaning has to be processed and rejected before the figurative meaning can be determined. Our investigations put this thesis to the test in pscholinguistic experiments in which subjects carry out simple linguistic tasks under pressure of time.

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              Cognitive linguistics 01/01/1996 - 31/12/2000

              Abstract

              The Research Network 'Cognitive Linguistics' brings together linguists working within a cognitive linguistic framework at different Belgian universities. Its activities will be devoted to the further elaboration of the research topics that the Belgian network of Cognitive Linguists has focussed on in the past few years: lexical-semantic variation; the psychological reality of prototypical polysemy; cognitive morphology; and the cognitive background of typological variation.

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                The role of polysemy in lexical acquisition and lexical storage. 01/01/1996 - 31/12/1997

                Abstract

                The major aim of this project is to investigate whether or not networks that have been introduced in cognitive linguistics are also built up by people who are learning a language. The fact that there exists a structure in the vocabulary of a language, does not automatically imply that this structure is used during the process of lexical acquisition or during memory storage. It is possible that the structure of a language offers only a description of the process of lexical extension (= language production), namely the suggestion that users of language pursue polysemy. The central question in this study is, whether the urge for polysemy also plays a role in the process of language acquisition (= language reception) and in the memory representations that are produced.

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                  Development of a registration document for inspectors of primary schools. 01/11/1994 - 31/12/1994

                  Abstract

                  The document offers a scheme - in the form of a standardized questionnaire - for inspectors of primary education, with the purpose of assessing school in an efficient way. A further goal of this regulation document is to have an instrument for collecting information that considerably facilitates the writing of uniform reports for the Education Department of the Flemish Community.

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                    How cognitive is cognitive linlinguistics? An experimental psycho- and neurolinguistic approach to lexico-semantic analyses. 01/10/1993 - 30/09/1997

                    Abstract

                    The purpose of the research is to study the way language users process and represent (in their mental lexicon) the meanings of polysemous and ambiguous words. Two research disciplines are related to each other in this line of research: cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics.Different experimental techniques 'especially eye movement registration and reaction time paradigms) are used to address the question whether polysemy and homonymy are mentally represented according to the same principles of representation.

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                      A study of the reading process, in particular the process of access to lexical representations from the written image. 01/02/1992 - 31/12/1994

                      Abstract

                      Experiments will be designed to study the role of the phonology (the sound) and morphology (the internal structure) of words in the reading process. The essential question is whether phonological and morphological information are necessary for the purpose of accessing the mental lexicon.

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