Jeffrey Lidz

Jeffrey Lidz
University of Maryland, College Park | UMD, UMCP, University of Maryland College Park · Department of Linguistics

About

159
Publications
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3,241
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2005 - present
University of Maryland, College Park
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (159)
Article
Full-text available
A sentence like every circle is blue might be understood in terms of individuals and their properties (e.g., for each thing that is a circle, it is blue) or in terms of a relation between groups (e.g., the blue things include the circles). Relatedly, theorists can specify the contents of universally quantified sentences in first-order or second-ord...
Article
As members of the editorial team at Language Acquisition, we read Kidd and Garcia’s target article with enthusiasm. In our commentary, we outline some specific ideas for how journals can help to alleviate the issues raised by Kidd and Garcia, some of which are in progress or in place at Language Acquisition, and some of which we hope to undertake a...
Article
We use children's noun learning as a probe into the nature of their syntactic prediction mechanism and the statistical knowledge on which that prediction mechanism is based. We focus on verb-based predictions, considering two possibilities: children's syntactic predictions might rely on distributional knowledge about specific verbs–i.e. they might...
Article
Learning in any domain depends on how the data for learning are represented. In the domain of language acquisition, children's representations of the speech they hear determine what generalizations they can draw about their target grammar. But these input representations change over development as a function of children's developing linguistic know...
Article
Attitude verbs, such as think, want, and know, describe internal mental states that leave few cues as to their meanings in the physical world. Consequently, their acquisition requires learners to draw from indirect evidence stemming from the linguistic and conversational contexts in which they occur. This provides us a unique opportunity to probe t...
Article
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Significance As mature speakers of a language, we are able to produce and understand an indefinite number of sentences. This ability comes from a powerful cognitive system—syntax—whose properties reveal the types of computations that human minds can engage in. One core property is the capacity to encode abstract grammatical dependencies that can ho...
Article
Attitude verbs like think and want describe mental states (belief and desire) that lack reliable physical correlates that could help children learn their meanings. Nevertheless, children succeed in doing so. For this reason, attitude verbs have been a parade case for syntactic bootstrapping. We assess a recent syntactic bootstrapping hypothesis, in...
Article
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Although the Japanese reflexive zibun can be bound both locally and across clause boundaries, the third-person pronoun kare cannot take a local antecedent. These are properties that children need to learn about their language, but we show that the direct evidence of the binding possibilities of zibun is sparse and the evidence of kare is absent in...
Article
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Natural languages like English connect pronunciations with meanings. Linguistic pronunciations can be described in ways that relate them to our motor system (e.g., to the movement of our lips and tongue). But how do linguistic meanings relate to our nonlinguistic cognitive systems? As a case study, we defend an explicit proposal about the meaning o...
Article
Jacques Mehler's earliest work concerned the independence of syntactic and semantic representations in adult sentence understanding, probing for independent contributions of sentence structure and sentence meaning in the psychological processes that underlie linguistic perception (e.g., Mehler, 1963; Mehler & Miller, 1964). The bulk of his career w...
Article
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Quantificational determiners have meanings that are "conservative" in the following sense: in sentences, repeating a determiner's internal argument within its external argument is logically insignificant. Using a verification task to probe which sets (or properties) of entities are represented when participants evaluate sentences, we test the predi...
Article
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Preschool children acquiring English and Brazilian Portuguese display a peculiar behavior when prompted to produce multi-clause wh-questions. In elicited production tasks, structures with an extra wh-element in medial position are sometimes produced. Such medial questions are impossible in the adult languages being acquired. Following a hypothesis...
Chapter
Studies under the heading of “syntactic bootstrapping” have demonstrated that syntax guides young children’s interpretations during verb learning. We evaluate two hypotheses concerning the origins of syntactic bootstrapping effects. The “universalist” view, holding that syntactic bootstrapping falls out from universal properties of the syntax-seman...
Chapter
This chapter traces the contribution of Lila R. Gleitman’s research over the course of 50 years. It situates her career relative to the structuralist and behaviorist paradigms of the 1950s and discusses how her work played a central role in replacing those paradigms with those of cognitive science and generative linguistics. It reviews her contribu...
Article
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Null object (NO) constructions in Korean and Japanese have received different accounts: as (a) argument ellipsis ( Oku 1998 , S. Kim 1999 , Saito 2007 , Sakamoto 2015 ), (b) VP-ellipsis after verb raising ( Otani and Whitman 1991 , Funakoshi 2016 ), or (c) instances of base-generated pro ( Park 1997 , Hoji 1998 , 2003 ). We report results from two...
Article
Full-text available
15-month-olds behave as if they comprehend filler-gap dependencies such as wh-questions and relative clauses. On one hypothesis, this success does not reflect adult-like representations but rather a “gap-driven” interpretation heuristic based on verb knowledge. Infants who know that feed is transitive may notice that a predicted direct object is mi...
Preprint
Previous research on 4-6-year olds' interpretations of adjunct control has observed non-adultlike behavior for sentences like "John called Mary before running to the store." Several studies have aimed to identify a grammatical source of children's errors. We show that children's difficulty with adjunct control derives from an interaction between fi...
Article
Lila Gleitman's body of work on word learning raises an apparent paradox. Whereas work on syntactic bootstrapping depends on learners retaining information about the set of distributional contexts that a word occurs in, work on identifying a word's referent suggests that learners do not retain information about the set of extralinguistic contexts t...
Article
Full-text available
Language acquisition presents a formidable task for infants, in which word learning is a crucial yet challenging step. Syntax (the rules for combining words into sentences) has been robustly shown to be a cue to word meaning. But how can infants access syntactic information when they are still acquiring the meanings of words? We investigate the con...
Chapter
Full-text available
In English, the distinction between belief verbs, such as think, and desire verbs, such as want, is tracked by tense found in the subordinate clauses of those verbs. This suggests that subordinate clause tense might be a useful cue for learning the meanings of these verbs via syntactic bootstrapping. However, the correlation between tense and the b...
Article
Much work has demonstrated that children are able to use bottom-up linguistic cues to incrementally interpret sentences, but there is little understanding of the extent to which children's comprehension mechanisms are guided by top-down linguistic information that can be learned from distributional regularities in the input. Using a visual world ey...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies on children’s interpretations of PRO in adjunct clauses have found that 4- to 6-year old children exhibit non-adultlike interpretations of adjunct PRO. For sentences with adjunct control, as in John bumped Mary after PRO tripping on the sidewalk, these studies have argued that children’s knowledge is not adultlike. In this paper, w...
Article
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How do children learn the meanings of propositional attitude verbs? We argue that children use information contained in both syntactic distribution and pragmatic function to zero in on the appropriate meanings. Specifically, we identify a potentially universal link between semantic subclasses of attitude verbs, their syntactic distribution and the...
Article
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Language is a sub-component of human cognition. One important, though often unattained goal for both cognitive scientists and linguists is to explicate how the meanings of words and sentences relate to the more general, non-linguistic, cognitive systems that are used to evaluate whether sentences are true or false. In the present paper, we explore...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reviews some developmental psycholinguistic literature on quantifier scope. I demonstrate how scope has been used as a valuable probe into children’s grammatical representations, the nature of children’s on-line understanding mechanisms, and the role that experience plays in language acquisition. First, children’s interpretations of cert...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we present two experiments with 3-year-olds, exploring their interpretation of sentences about desires. A mature concept of desire entails that desires may conflict with reality and that different people may have conflicting desires. While previous literature is suggestive, it remains unclear whether young children understand that (a...
Chapter
Full-text available
Language acquisition provides a new window into the rich structure of the human language faculty and explains how it develops in interaction with its environment and the rest of human cognition. This chapter discusses how children learn the phonology of their language and solve the problem of word segmentation. It explains how children learn the gr...
Article
We present an experiment which tests children’s comprehension of the requirementsof use of pronouns and definites. An adult-like use of definites and pronouns imposes differentbut related requirements. In the case of definites, a unique referent is required in the context,whereas in the case of a pronoun, the referent in the context has to be salie...
Article
Full-text available
How do children discover which linguistic expressions are associated with presuppositions? Do they take a direct strategy of tracking whether linguistic expressions are associated with particular speaker presuppositions? This strategy may fail children who are trying to learn about the presuppositions of so-called 'soft' presupposition triggers, wh...
Presentation
Full-text available
Attitude verbs (think, want...) describe abstract mental states that lack reliable correlates in the physical world. In many languages, these verbs can be divided into two semantic classes – belief (think) and desire (want) verbs – with distinct c-selection properties. This correlation is interesting not only for formal reasons, but also from an ac...
Presentation
Full-text available
How do children learn that ”think” and ”want” mean different things? These verbs describe mental states that are difficult to observe from the physical environment. We suggest that the semantic differences can be learned from observing syntactic properties of these verbs. We then argue that this proposal is feasible even in a language like Mandarin...
Poster
Recent findings using MEG suggest that the phase reset of neural oscillations encodes hierarchical linguistic structure in the brain [1]. In two experiments, we demonstrate this entrainment manifests regardless of stimulus presentation rate. Our data suggest that further work with EEG could provide insights into the mechanisms that give rise to the...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research on the acquisition of adjunct control has observed non-adultlike behavior for sentences like “John bumped Mary after tripping on the sidewalk.” While adults only allow a subject control interpretation for these sentences (that John tripped on the sidewalk), preschool-aged children have been reported to allow a much wider range of...
Article
Propositional attitude verbs, such as think and want, have long held interest for both theoretical linguists and language acquisitionists because their syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties display complex interactions that have proven difficult to fully capture from either perspective. This paper explores the granularity with which these v...
Article
In a series of three experiments, we use children's noun learning as a probe into their syntactic knowledge as well as their ability to deploy this knowledge, investigating how the predictions children make about upcoming syntactic structure change as their knowledge changes. In the first two experiments, we show that children display a development...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the processing of pronouns in Strong and Weak Crossover constructions as a means of probing the extent to which the incremental parser can use syntactic information to guide antecedent retrieval. In Experiment 1 we show that the parser accesses a displaced wh-phrase as an antecedent for a pronoun when no grammatical constraints proh...
Article
Full-text available
Kotek et al. (Nat Lang Semant 23: 119–156, 2015) argue on the basis of novel experimental evidence that sentences like ‘Most of the dots are blue’ are ambiguous, i.e. have two distinct truth conditions. Kotek et al. furthermore suggest that when their results are taken together with those of earlier work by Lidz et al. (Nat Lang Semant 19: 227–256,...
Article
Full-text available
Children under 4 years of age often evaluate belief reports based on reality instead of beliefs. They tend to reject sentences like, “John thinks that giraffes have stripes” on the grounds that giraffes do not have stripes. Previous accounts have proposed that such judgments reflect immature Theory of Mind or immature syntactic/semantic representat...
Article
Full-text available
The present study investigates English-learning infants’ early understanding of the link between the grammatical category verb and the conceptual category event, and their ability to recruit morphosyntactic information online to learn novel verb meanings. We report two experiments using an infant-controlled Habituation-Switch Paradigm. In Experimen...
Poster
Full-text available
Compared to other verbs, belief and desire verbs (e.g. “to think” and “to want”) express events (mental states) that lack reliable physical correlates. Thus, while children successfully come to acquire the meaning of these attitude verbs, it is highly unlikely that they do so using situational context alone (see Gleitman et al. 2005). One hypothesi...
Article
Full-text available
This study tested American preschoolers’ ability to use phrasal prosody to constrain their syntactic analysis of locally ambiguous sentences containing noun/verb homophones (e.g., [The baby flies] [hide in the shadows] vs. [The baby] [flies his kite], brackets indicate prosodic boundaries). The words following the homophone were masked, such that p...
Article
Children acquiring languages with noun classes (grammatical gender) have ample statistical information available that characterizes the distribution of nouns into these classes, but their use of this information to classify novel nouns differs from the predictions made by an optimal Bayesian classifier. We use rational analysis to investigate the h...
Article
Full-text available
Piantadosi and Kidd (1) raise three important issues concerning the mismatch between the grammars of children and their parents, and the role this mismatch plays in arguing for learner-internal factors shaping grammatical development. First, in other domains, a lack of correlation between children and adults would be taken as evidence for exogenous...
Article
This article presents a study of preschool-aged children’s knowledge of the semantics of the negative polarity item (NPI) any. NPIs like any differ in distribution from non-polarity-sensitive indefinites like a: Any is restricted to downward-entailing linguistic environments (Fauconnier 1975, 1979; Ladusaw 1979). But any also differs from plain ind...
Article
This article investigates infant comprehension of filler-gap dependencies. Three experiments probe 15- and 20-month-olds’ comprehension of two filler-gap dependencies: wh-questions and relative clauses. Experiment 1 shows that both age groups appear to comprehend wh-questions. Experiment 2 shows that only the younger infants appear to comprehend re...
Article
Full-text available
A fundamental question in the study of human language acquisition centers around apportioning explanatory force between the experience of the learner and the core knowledge that allows learners to represent that experience. We provide a previously unidentified kind of data identifying children's contribution to language acquisition. We identify one...
Article
Acquiring the correct meanings of words expressing quantities (seven, most) and qualities (red, spotty) present a challenge to learners. Understanding how children succeed at this requires understanding, not only of what kinds of data are available to them, but also the biases and expectations they bring to the learning task. The results of our wor...
Chapter
Full-text available
This study investigates three-year-olds’ representations of the verbs think and know, in attempt to assess their understanding of factivity. Know, being factive, is used in contexts where the complement is taken to be true. Think, although non-factive, is often used in contexts where the complement also is taken to be true. Despite this, can childr...
Article
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Traditionally, acquisition of syntactic knowledge and the development of sentence comprehension behaviors have been treated as separate disciplines. This article reviews a growing body of work on the development of incremental sentence comprehension mechanisms and discusses how a better understanding of the developing parser can shed light on two l...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence of children’s sensitivity to statistical features of their input in language acquisition is often used to argue against learning mechanisms driven by innate knowledge. At the same time, evidence of children acquiring knowledge that is richer than the input supports arguments in favor of such mechanisms. This tension can be resolved by sepa...
Article
Full-text available
Much work on child sentence processing has demonstrated that children are able to use various linguistic cues to incrementally resolve temporary syntactic ambiguities, but they fail to use syntactic or interpretability cues that arrive later in the sentence. The present study explores whether children incrementally resolve filler-gap dependencies,...
Article
Full-text available
In this study we investigate young children’s knowledge of syntactic constraints on Noun Phrase reference by testing 30-month-olds’ interpretation of two types of transitive sentences. In a preferential looking task, we find that children prefer different interpretations for transitive sentences whose object NP is a name (e.g., She’s patting Katie)...
Article
In 2007, we began an outreach program in Linguistics with psychology students in a local majority–minority high school. In the years since, the initial collaboration has grown to include other schools and nurtured a culture of community engagement in the language sciences at the University of Maryland. The program has led to a number of benefits fo...
Conference Paper
Background: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show abnormalities in real-world gaze monitoring, but often perform typically in laboratory-based paradigms examining gaze cueing. Two types of gaze cueing—both present from infancy in typical development—often appear intact in ASD: overt (i.e., looking in the direction of gaze) a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The reference of pronouns, unlike proper names, shifts in different contexts based on who the discourse participants are. Because of this, learning pronouns requires awareness of and attention to speakers and their intentions. Previous pronoun studies report that children first acquire pronouns when they are the referents (Charney 1980a), suggestin...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the acquisition of noun classes in Tsez, looking in particular at the role of noun-internal distributional cues to class. We present a new corpus of child-directed Tsez speech, analyzing it to determine the proportion of nouns that children hear with this predictive information and how often this is heard in conjunction with o...
Article
Full-text available
Children under 4 years have been claimed to lack adult-like semantic representations of belief verbs like 'think'. Based on two experiments involving a truth-value judgment task, we argue that 4-year olds' apparently deviant interpretations arise from pragmatic difficulty understanding the relevance of belief, rather than from conceptual or semanti...
Article
Children under 4 years have been claimed to lack adult-like semantic representations of belief verbs like ‘think’. Based on two experiments involving a truth-value judgment task, we argue that 4-year olds’ apparently deviant interpretations arise from pragmatic difficulty understanding the relevance of belief, rather than from conceptual or semanti...
Article
What, if any, are the rules governing how vision interfaces with distantly related cognitive systems? We investigated a possible relationship between visual grouping mechanisms and expectations for words like "more" and "most". We walked up to strangers on the street (N=100), gave them an iPad, and asked them to create a picture depicting an Englis...
Article
Full-text available
A striking cross-linguistic generalisation about the semantics of determiners is that they never express non-conservative relations. To account for this one might hypothesise that the mechanisms underlying human language acquisition are unsuited to non-conservative determiner meanings. We present experimental evidence that 4- and 5-year-olds fail t...