Janet Dean Fodor

Janet Dean Fodor
CUNY Graduate Center | CUNY · Program in Linguistics

About

101
Publications
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5,998
Citations
Citations since 2017
8 Research Items
1213 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250

Publications

Publications (101)
Article
It has been shown that speakers use prosodic cues to disambiguate the syntactic structure of a sentence and listeners are sensitive to such cues. But the distribution of prosodic boundaries has been reported to depend on the lengths of constituents as well as the syntactic structure of utterances. Hence, it is possible that listeners are sensitive...
Research
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Differences in sentence processing between English and German.
Chapter
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For gathering data on syntax-prosody relations, it has been unclear how to proceed experimentally. This is especially so for complex syntactic structures, such as the doubly center-embedded relative clause construction, which is syntactically well-formed but notoriously difficult to parse. These complex sentences can be especially revealing theoret...
Article
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It is known from previous studies that in many cases (though not all) the prosodic properties of a spoken utterance reflect aspects of its syntactic structure, and also that in many cases (though not all) listeners can benefit from these prosodic cues. A novel contribution to this literature is the Rational Speaker Hypothesis (RSH), proposed by Cli...
Chapter
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Doubly center-embedded relative clause constructions such as 'The rat that the cat that the dog chased killed ate the malt' are notoriously difficult to parse. Many explanations have been offered. In this paper we propose a novel one: an alignment problem at the syntax-prosody interface, consisting of a mismatch between the heavily nested syntactic...
Article
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An evaluation measure (EM) guides a learner’s choice of grammar when more than one is compatible with available input. EM must be universal, so children receiving comparable input acquire comparable grammars. It must favor the choices children actually make. The theoretical shift from rule-based grammars to principles-and-parameter-based grammars d...
Article
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We investigated the processing of ambiguous double-PP constructions in Hebrew. Selection restrictions forced the first prepositional phrase (PP1) to attach low, but PP2 could attach maximally high to VP or maximally low to the NP inside PP1. A length contrast in PP2 was also examined. This construction affords more potential locations for prosodic...
Chapter
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This chapter examines the prospects for n-gram-based learning of natural language syntax. It finds that low-level statistics over word strings might contribute to syntax learning but cannot substitute for syntactic knowledge. Such statistics cannot capture the generalization about auxiliary inversion. Theoretical differences aside, the only route t...
Article
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The types of learning algorithm that could match the achievements of child learners depend in large part on how much parametric ambiguity there is in their input. For practical reasons this cannot be established for the domain of all natural languages. Our tactic is to estimate the incidence of unambiguous triggers by examining a constructed domain...
Data
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Doubly Center-Embedded Relative Clauses (2CE-RC) show three peculiarities: I. Unusually difficult comprehension; II. Improved if NP3 is a pronoun = "the pronoun effect"´; III. Perceived (wrongly!) as more grammatical if VP2 is absent = "the missing-VP effect". Many explanations have been proposed for these phenomena. Without disproving the relevanc...
Chapter
Psycholinguistic research can benefit from variations in headedness that create novel types of ambiguity, raising processing issues not previously studied. Our experiments exploit the mixed headedness of Mandarin Chinese to explore the interplay between phrase structure assignment and empty category interpretation. An empty category (EC) may be int...
Article
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We present a novel method for establishing the preferred interpretation of ambiguities in spoken sentences. It makes use of the phoneme restoration effect (Warren, 1970): when noise replaces phoneme(s) in a word, listeners report that they perceive the word as intact and congruent with the context. If the word disambiguates a potentially ambiguous...
Article
Recent challenges to Chomsky's poverty of the stimulus thesis for language acquisition suggest that children's primary data may carry "indirect evidence" about linguistic constructions despite containing no instances of them. Indirect evidence is claimed to suffice for grammar acquisition, without need for innate knowledge. This article reports exp...
Chapter
Learnability ConcernsExponential Facts of LifeParametric AmbiguityParametric DecodingConsequences of AmbiguityConsequences of AmbiguityPatterns of Parametric Ambiguity in Natural Language
Article
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Language learners with insufficient access to negative evidence about what is not in their target language must rely on the Subset Principle (SP), or some other similar conservative learning strategy, in order to avoid overgeneration. Recent attempts to incorporate such a strategy into psychologically realistic models of syntax acquisition have rev...
Article
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Modest experimental findings support the general moral that this chapter is tempted to draw on the basis of informal judgments of written and spoken sentences. That is, acceptability judgments on written sentences are not purely syntax-driven; they are not free of prosody even though no prosody exists in the stimulus. This has a useful result for t...
Article
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Following Hale & Reiss' paper on the Subset Principle (SP) in phonology, we draw attention here to some unsolved problems in the application of SP to syntax acquisition. While noting connections to formal results in computational linguistics, our focus is on how SP could be implemented in a way that is both linguistically well-grounded and psycholo...
Article
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics. Thesis. 1970. Ph. D. Vita. Bibliography: leaves [359]-[360].
Article
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Reali & Christiansen (2003, 2004) have challenged Chomsky's most famous "poverty of stimulus" claim (Chomsky, 1980) by showing that a statistical learner which tracks transitional probabilities between adjacent words (bigrams) can correctly differentiate grammatical and ungrammatical auxiliary inversion in questions like (1) and (2): (1) Is the lit...
Article
Full-text available
Once, sentence processing research set aside prosody in order to focus on syntactic and semantic processing. Experimental sentences were mostly presented visually, often without prosodic markers such as commas. Now that we have made some progress by this `divide and conquer' approach, and now that the technology for working on speech has improved,...
Article
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We consider the process by which the syntactic parameters of human language are set. Previous work has shown that for natural languages there can be no instant "automatic" triggering of parameters because the trigger properties in natural languages are often deep properties, not recognizable without parsing the input sentence. There are parametric...
Article
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The argument from the poverty of the stimulus as Pullum and Scholz deÞne it (their APS) is undeniably true, given that all language learners acquire the ability to generate more sentences of the target language than they have heard. Uniformity across learners with respect to the additionalsentences they project suggests that grammar induction is gu...
Article
The argument from the poverty of stimulus as Pullum and Scholz define it (their APS) is undeniably true, given that all language learners acquire the ability to generate more sentences of the target language than they have heard. Uniformity across learners with respect to the additional sentences they project suggests that grammar induction is guid...
Article
Peter W. Culicover, Syntactic nuts: hard cases, syntactic theory, and language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Pp. viii + 244.
Chapter
Language Acquisition and Learnability is an accessible introduction to learnability theory and its interactions with linguistic theories. Working within the Principles and Parameters framework, the book surveys general concepts from formal learning theory and complexity theory, together with important findings from developmental psycholinguistics,...
Article
Meng and Bader (2000b) have shown that for garden-path repair in German, case is a more effective cue than number. They argue that sensitivity to the nature of the cue supports a diagnosis model of garden path repair such as we have proposed. However, in making this argument Meng and Bader introduced a new notion of diagnosis. Retaining the origina...
Article
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Syntactic parameter setting has proven extremely difficult to model. The original switch-setting' metaphor failed because parametrically relevant properties of a natural language sentence cannot be recognized withou t considerable structural analy sis.
Article
Meng and Bader have presented evidence that a Case conflict is a more effective cue for garden-path reanalysis than a number conflict is, for German wh-sentences with subject-object ambiguities. The preferred first-pass analysis has the wh-trace in subject position, although object position is correct. In a speeded grammaticality judgment task, per...
Chapter
The human sentence processing device sometimes makes errors, and when it does, it can sometimes correct them. This much is generally agreed, though opinions differ with respect to how and why the errors occur. In this paper we are concerned with the process of recovery from garden paths in sentence processing. A garden path occurs when the parser m...
Conference Paper
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language learnability - setting syntactic parameters
Article
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Triggers for parameter setting may be ambiguous. Strategies for dealing with ambiguity include guessing, parallel processing, and waiting for unambiguous input. The Trigger Learning Algorithm of Gibson and Wexler (1994) is a guessing system. Gibson and Wexler show that under some reasonable assumptions it may never attain the target grammar. I prop...
Article
The symptom of a garden path in sentence processing is an important anomaly in the input string. This anomaly signals to the parser that an error has occurred, and provides cues for how to repair it. Anomaly detection is thus an important aspect of sentence processing. In the present study, we investigated how the parser responds to unambiguous sen...
Article
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Learning a language by parameter setting is almost certainly less onerous than composing a grammar from scratch. But recent computational modeling of how parameters are set has shown that it is not at all the simple mechanical process sometimes imagined. Sentences must be parsed to discover the properties that select between parameter values. But t...
Article
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A strong claim about human sentence comprehension is that the processing mechanism is fully innate and applies differently to different languages only to the extent that their grammars differ. If so, there is hope for an explanatory project which attributes all parsing strategies to fundamental design characteristics of the parsing device. However,...
Article
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The diagnostic model of garden path recovery that we have advocated in previous work holds that no repair processes are intrinsically costly. Repair costs depend entirely on the difficulty of establishing what revisions to make. The diagnosis process does not require a special-purpose inference system as long as the parser abides by the Attach Anyw...
Article
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Three experiments were conducted to investigate the relative timing of syntactic and pragmatic anomaly detection during sentence processing. Experiment 1 was an eye movement study. Experiment 2 employed a dual-task paradigm with compressed speech input, to put the processing routines under time pressure. Experiment 3 used compressed speech input in...
Article
Janet Fodor, Ivan Sag : A traceless account of extraction phenomena Trace theory is an unquestioned part of transformational grammars and Governement and Binding theory. We show that theory external motivation for positing phonetically empty elements is in fact minimal, and no empirical evidence (syntactic, phonetic or psycholinguistic) can be foun...
Article
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Recent investigations of sentence processing have used the cross-modal lexical decision task to show that the antecedent of a phonologically empty noun phrase (specifically, WH-trace) is reactivated at the trace position. G. McKoon, R. Ratcliff, and G. Ward (1994) claimed that (a) a design feature concerning the choice of related and unrelated targ...
Article
We propose that, for the human parser, recovery from garden paths consists in repairing the structure built so far, rather than reparsing the input. The difficulty of a repair is attributable not to the cost of effecting the structural alterations but to the cost of deducing which alterations are needed. The parser must diagnose its error in order...
Chapter
Island constraints on extraction are not universal. In Slavic languages they are stronger than in English, and in Scandinavian languages they are weaker. At least this is so for extraction from clausal complements to verbs, which I will focus on in this paper. As a first approximation (inaccurate but adequate for purposes of this section): all comp...
Article
The success of the Government Binding (GB) theory framework for language description is due in large part, all details aside, to the fact that it is principle-based, and that its principles are parameterized. Principles capture generalizations that cut across particular constructions. Parameters isolate areas of variability across languages, and pe...
Article
We report an experiment designed to identify how contextual information can influence children's performance on an experimental task involving temporal terms. Grain (1982) reported improved performance on a comprehension task when subjects were provided with contextual information, and he suggested that the improvement was due to satisfaction of pr...
Article
An empty category is an inaudible/invisible constituent of a sentence, postulated by linguists to account for certain regularities of sentence structure. To identify an empty category and associate it with an antecedent that will determine its interpretation, a sentence processing device must apply considerable linguistic knowledge, both universal...
Chapter
This is a paper with no data, only morals. What I want to do is think about how we ought to think about core and periphery. That means rehearsing a lot of methodological precepts. I hope they will all appear perfectly obvious. My excuse for dwelling on them is, first, that they have not actually been gathered and set out together before; and, secon...
Article
Freedman and Forster (1985) claim that sentence matching times for ungrammatical sentences demonstrate the psychological reality of different types of ungrammaticality, and that this implies that sentences are mentally assigned multilevel syntactic derivations as characterized by Government Binding Theory. We question the notion of overgeneration w...
Chapter
The recent, and apparently growing, trend among linguists to ransack textbooks of logic might be merely an intellectual fashion, destined like all fashions to fade. But it would be foolish, if not insulting, simply to dismiss it in this way, especially as the interest has not been entirely one-sided. Philosophers, too, are becoming increasingly kee...
Chapter
This is a collection of new papers by leading researchers on natural language parsing. In the past, the problem of how people parse the sentences they hear - determine the identity of the words in these sentences and group these words into larger units - has been addressed in very different ways by experimental psychologists, by theoretical linguis...
Article
It has previously been claimed that a deterministic model of the human sentence parsing mechanism provides an explanation for the existence of, and some of the properties of, the subjacency constraint on natural languages. The present paper argues that the empirical arguments offered in support of these claims are flawed, and that in any case the e...
Article
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The formal semantics that we have proposed for definite and indefinite descriptions analyzes them both as variable-binding operators and as referring terms. It is the referential analysis which makes it possible to account for the facts outlined in Section 2, e.g. for the purely instrumental role of the descriptive content; for the appearance of un...
Article
The system of semantic representation for quantified sentences that I shall propose in this paper is an unconventional one and looks very naive in comparison with the elegant formalism of standard quantificational logics. My excuse for presuming to tamper with the standard formalism is that, though it may meet the needs of logicians,1 it by no mean...
Article
Are the peculiar design characteristics of human languages merely the result of evolutionary accidents that determined innate limitations on linguistic competence? Or do they stem from the fact that human languages are used for practical purposes, and that efficient use demands sentence structures that can readily be produced and parsed? The only w...
Article
Reviews the book, Explorations in the Biology of Language by Edward Walker (Ed.) (see record 1980-51386-000 ). This book can evaluated not only for the worth of its individual articles, but also for its effectiveness as a rallying cry to attract new talent and effort to the study of language as a biological phenomenon. By the first of these criteri...
Article
It is proposed that the human sentence parsing device assigns phrase structure to word strings in two steps. The first stage parser assigns lexical and phrasal nodes to substrings of roughly six words. The second stage parser then adds higher nodes to link these phrasal packages together into a complete phrase marker. This model of the parser is co...
Article
Perlmutter claimed (Perlmutter, 1968) that the like subject constraint in English is a deep structure constraint. Apart from being a contribution to a theory of filtering devices in natural languages, this claim is of interest because it is based on the assignment of abstract deep structures containing causal clauses which do not appear in surface...
Article
Recent challenges to Chomsky's poverty of the stimulus thesis for language acquisition suggest that children's primary data may carry 'indirect evi dence' about linguistic constructions despite containing no instances of them. Indirect evidence is claimed to suffice for grammar acquisition, without need for innate knowledge or specializ ed learning...
Article
Thesis--Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abstract. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [359]-[360]). Microfilm copy of typescript. [Cambridge : Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Libraries, 1970. -- 1 reel ; 35 mm.

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