We consider connections between number sense—the ability to judge number—and the interpretation of natural language quantifiers. In particular, we present empirical evidence concerning the neuroanatomical underpinnings of number sense and quantifier interpretation. We show, further, that impairment of number sense in patients can result in the impairment of the ability to interpret sentences containing quantifiers. This result demonstrates that number sense supports some aspects of the language faculty.
This paper examines the role that linguistic and cognitive prominence play in the resolution of anaphor–antecedent relationships. In two experiments, we found that pronouns are immediately sensitive to the cognitive prominence of potential antecedents when other antecedent selection cues are uninformative. In experiment 1, results suggest that despite their theoretical dissimilarities, topic and contrastive focus both serve to enhance cognitive prominence. Results from experiment 2 suggest that the contrastive prosody appropriate for focus constructions may also play an important role in (...) enhancing cognitive prominence. Thus different types of linguistic prominence (topic, contrastive focus) appear to have the common effect of increasing the cognitive prominence of the discourse referent. For pronouns with two possible antecedents, the cognitive prominence of an antecedent aids in anaphor resolution, immediately biasing selection towards the more prominent (and ultimately preferred) antecedent. (shrink)
We develop an analysis of discourse anaphora—the relationship between a pronoun and an antecedent earlier in the discourse —using games of partial information. The analysis is extended to include information from a variety of different sources, including lexical semantics, contrastive stress, grammatical relations, and decision theoretic aspects of the context.
Both language and genes evolve by transmission over generations with opportunity for differential replication of forms. The understanding that gene frequencies change at random by genetic drift, even in the absence of natural selection, was a seminal advance in evolutionary biology. Stochastic drift must also occur in language as a result of randomness in how linguistic forms are copied between speakers. Here we quantify the strength of selection relative to stochastic drift in language evolution. We use time series derived from (...) large corpora of annotated texts dating from the 12th to 21st centuries to analyse three well-known grammatical changes in English: the regularization of past-tense verbs, the introduction of the periphrastic ’do’, and variation in verbal negation. We reject stochastic drift in favour of selection in some cases but not in others. In particular, we infer selection towards the irregular forms of some past-tense verbs, which is likely driven by changing frequencies of rhyming patterns over time. We show that stochastic drift is stronger for rare words, which may explain why rare forms are more prone to replacement than common ones. This work provides a method for testing selective theories of language change against a null model and reveals an underappreciated role for stochasticity in language evolution. (shrink)
Social and physical coordination.Robin Clark - 2012 - Interaction Studies. Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies / Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies 13 (1):66-79.details
Generalized quantifiers are functions from pairs of properties to truth-values; these functions can be used to interpret natural language quantifiers. The space of such functions is vast and a great deal of research has sought to find natural constraints on the functions that interpret determiners and create quantifiers. These constraints have demonstrated that quantifiers rest on number and number sense. In the first part of the paper, we turn to developing this argument. In the remainder, we report on work in (...) neurobiology that test the empirical claims of the theory. In particular, we look at fMRI experiments and behavioral experiments with various patient populations that support the intimate connection between natural language quantification and number sense. (shrink)