Tandem Workshop on Optimality in Language and Geometric Approaches to
Workshop Berlin, December 11-13, 2010. Schützenstraße 18, 10117 Berlin (Mitte), ZAS.
Organizers: Anton Benz (ZAS, Berlin), Reinhard Blutner (ILLC, Amsterdam), Manfred Krifka (ZAS/HU Berlin), Peter beim Graben (HU Berlin), Nicolas Stindt (HU, DAAD).
Sponsored by ZAS (Berlin), and the NWO projects "asymmetry in grammar" (Petra Hendriks), "weak referentiality" (Henriette de Swart), "conflicts in interpretation" (Helen de Hoop)
Together with the Department of German Language and Linguistics at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and with the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin is going to organize a three-day 'Tandem Workshop on Optimality in Language and Geometric Approaches to Cognition' to be held at the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS), December 11th - 13th, 2010. The aim of the workshop is to encompass symbolic Optimality Theory (OT) and geometric representations of cognitive states and processes at the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels. In particular, the workshop will focus on issues such as:
Gerlof Bouma (Potsdam, D)
Petra Hendriks (Groningen, NL)
Lotte Hogeweg (Nijmegen, NL)
Geraldine Legendre (Baltimore, USA)
Paul Smolensky (Baltimore, USA)
Henriette de Swart (Utrecht, NL)
Ruben van de Vijver (Potsdam, D)
Henk Zeevat (Amsterdam, NL)
Harald Atmanspacher (Freiburg, D)|
Stefan Evert (Osnabrueck, D)
Stefan Frank (London, UK)
Peter Gärdenfors (Lund, S)
Stefan Kiebel (Leipzig, D)
Eduardo Mizraji (Montevideo, Uruguay)
Sonja Smets (Groningen, NL)
Paul Smolensky (Baltimore, USA)
Pluralization in German: a challenge for frequency-based learning
Gerlof Bouma & Ruben van de Vijver
University of Potsdam.
German singular-plural pairs may involve two alternations: voicing alternation [wek]~[wege] and vowel alternation [hu:n]~[hy:ner]. Both alternations are approximately equally frequent in the lexicon: vowel and voicing alternation appear in about 1/4 of relevant lexemes.
In production experiments, children generalized the voicing alternation to nonce words more often than the vowel alternation. Adult speakers applied voicing alternation to nonces in the same proportion as in the lexicon. Vowel alternation, on the other hand, remained underrepresented in this group of speakers, too (Van de Vijver & Baer-Henney, submitted)
These discrepancies between the lexicon and the experimental data, but also within the experimental data itself, pose a problem for models of grammatical interaction that are primarily driven by frequency of occurrence, such as Stochastic OT with the Gradual Learning Algorithm.
In this talk, we investigate several approaches to solving these problems in a competition-based model of grammar.
Van de Vijver & Baer-Henney. Submitted. Acquisition of alternations: the role of substance, frequency and phonotactics.
Online processing of bidirectional optimization
Although bidirectional optimization has been applied fruitfully to natural language to explain several semantic and pragmatic patterns within and across languages, it has been argued to be untenable as an online mechanism of sentence processing (Beaver & Lee 2004; Blutner & Zeevat 2004; Zeevat 2000). However, recent evidence from psycholinguistic studies and computational cognitive modeling of the acquisition and use of pronouns (e.g., van Rij, van Rijn & Hendriks 2010; in prep) suggests that bidirectional optimization is a local and online process that is subject to cognitive restrictions. This talk explores the various restrictions that may limit the application of bidirectional optimization during online sentence processing.
Optimality Theoretic Lexical Semantics
Radboud University Nijmegen
Optimality Theory (OT) has been applied to lexical semantics in several studies (e.g. Zwarts 2004, 2008, Zeevat 2002, Fong 2005, Hogeweg 2009). The aim this talk is twofold. Firstly, I want to explore the consequences of an OT approach to lexical semantics in more detail. Secondly, since the works mentioned only addressed functional items like prepositions and discourse markers, I will investigate the applicability of OT for the analysis of content words.
An optimality-theoretic treatment of the hedonic implicatures of taste and smell
HU Berlin & ZAS
Modeling comprehension of personal pronouns:
Bidirectional vs. Unidirectional Optimization in adults & children
Géraldine Legendre & Paul Smolensky
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Young children do not seem to have a problem producing singular personal pronouns. However, two-and-a-half-year-old children have been experimentally shown to comprehend 1st and 2nd but not 3rd person pronouns in French (Legendre et al., 2010, GALANA). Unlike children, adults have no difficulty interpreting them, regardless of person. Building on Heim (1991) and Sauerland (2008)’s analysis of 3rd person pronouns as triggering an implicated presupposition, we argue that the difference has to do with adults’ ability to integrate both speaker’s and hearer’s perspectives modeled as bidirectional OT.
Embedding OT grammars in neural networks:
Discrete and gradient effects in production
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Telicity features of bare nominals
Henriëtte de Swart
Bare nominals (i.e. nominal structures without a determiner) have traditionally played an important role in aspectual theory. Since Verkuyl (1972), we know that the quantized/ cumulative nature of the nominal argument is responsible for the aspectual contrast between writing a letter in/*for an hour and writing letters for/*in an hour. However, in other languages bare plurals may also be compatible with a telic interpretation, e.g. Russian Petja pro-èitalperf stat’i, Peter perf-read-past articles, is generally translated as ‘Peter read the articles.’ Bare singulars are even more flexible, as they lead to telic interpretations (Slavic, Hebrew), atelic interpretations (Brazilian Portuguese) or both (Hindi). In Romance languages, bare singulars are restricted to weakly referential positions, which restricts their aspectual freedom. This paper focuses on number morphology, definiteness and discourse referentiality as relevant factors for telicity.
Languages vary in whether or not they have grammaticized singular/plural distinctions, definite/indefinite articles, and we can model the different classes in an OT typology (cf. de Swart and Zwarts 2009, 2010). These grammatical differences have implications for number neutrality and referentiality features of bare nominals, which determine the possibilities for bare nominals of getting quantized/cumulative interpretations and participate in telic/atelic event descriptions. I argue that bare nominals derive their interpretation from the competition with overtly marked nominals under bidirectional optimization, and show how this view accounts for their cross-linguistic variation in aspectual behavior.
Parity and Automatic Self-Monitoring
Universiteit van Amsterdam
The crucial question about any system of communication is parity: how and at what level do the sender and the receiver agree with each other in successful communication. For natural language, the factor that makes this question non-trivial is the underdetermination of form by meaning: there are many meanings that can be expressed by the same form. This underdetermination is the product of syntactic ambiguity, word sense ambiguity, various types of anaphoricity to be resolved, discourse relations, and other context integration possibilities (relevance). Grice's theory of non-natural meaning puts parity at the level of speaker intention. Linguistic theories do not have anything to say about how parity is reached and how it is reached so often and with so little effort and in so little time. This is because of the Aristotelian conception of grammar as a relation between forms and meanings: underdetermination then merely predicts that parity is a rare event. The proper strategy for the speaker is to monitor her utterance for having the intended reading as the most probable one and replace it by a better one if that is possible within syntactic and lexical means of expression. For the hearer the only rational option is to go for the most probable reading. The best way to estimate that most probable reading is by emulating Bayesian interpretation combining normal cue-driven perception with a simulation of the speaker's formulation process. The combination of these processes of self-monitored production and Bayesian interpretation is the only theory that can predict a high degree of parity for linguistic communication.
The paper will review a number of phenomena in syntax-semantics where automatised self-monitoring must be assumed for purely descriptive reasons. These include NP selection, word order freezing, optional case marking, and the optional marking of discourse relations. Automatic self-monitoring turns out to be a proper optimisation problem with different semantic features vying with each other for the scarce expressive means.
Conceptual spaces for matching and representing preferences
Anton Benz & Alexandra Strekalova
Geometrical models of meaning and compositionality
Universiteit van Amsterdam
I defend the view that comprehending language is as direct as the perception of visual scenery. In both cases, beliefs are formed in a rather direct and holistic way, apparently without reference to serial processes of inferential interpretation. This view contrasts sharply with neo-Gricean and post-Gricean proposals for mechanisms of inferential interpretation. According to theses views inferences to the best explanation are required in order to determine what is said (and what is implicated). These inferences can be seen as enriching or specifying an underlying underdetermined representation. You cannot believe something automatically if it is the result of a (conscious) inference. I will argue that the division of labor between an underspecified representation and an inferential enrichment process has its roots in Boolean semantics, i.e. the underlying system that forms propositions and properties is a Boolean algebra.
Geometric models of meaning, in contrast, are based on vector-algebras that form so-called orthoalgebras. They are much closer to neural network models that capture the subsymbolic nature of cognition. Gärdenfors (mental spaces), Lakoff (embodied cognition), and Fauconnier & Turner (conceptual blending) are typical representatives. Taking common examples from lexical pragmatics I will demonstrate that with the help of geometric (vector-based) models of pragmasemantics we are able to formulate non-inferential mechanisms of direct interpretation. I will explain how the proposed approach explicates pragmatic notions such as conceptual blending and modulation in a straightforward way.
Some Mathematical Insights Into Distributional Semantic Models
I will focus on the role of logical
dynamics, and in particular on the role of dynamic-epistemic notions of
"conditional", in understanding and modeling apparently very different
phenomena: (1) knowledge-updates due to inter-agent communication; (2)
belief-revising mechanisms used by agents to change their theories (or
beliefs) when faced with new information; (3) the qualitative behavior
of quantum systems when subjected to measurements by an observing agent.
A dynamic-modal approach is new in the context of quantum logic (being
first introduced in my joint work with A. Baltag on dynamic quantum
logic), but in the context of knowledge-update and belief-revision it
links closely to the work on Dynamic-Epistemic Logic.