Kristine Yu of UMass Linguistics will present “Linguistic tone and the input to computational models of sentence comprehension” in the Computational Social Science Institute seminar, Friday, November 13, 2015, 12:30-2:00 p.m., in the Integrated Learning Center 231. Lunch will be provided, beginning at 12:15. An abstract follows.
Abstract: Consider a sentence like “I met the daughter of the colonel who was on the balcony.” When you hear this sentence, there are two possible interpretations: (1) the daughter was the one who was on the balcony or (2) the colonel was the one was on the balcony. These two different interpretations correspond to different syntactic structures of the sentence: that is, the same string of words has two different interpretations because the way the parts of the sentence are related to one another is different in those two interpretations. It has long been known that aspects of how the sentence is spoken, e.g., where the speaker pauses, how the pitch of the speaker’s voice goes up and down, might offer clues to disambiguation in sentence comprehension in a sentence like the example sentence given above. However, the standard approach in computational models of sentence comprehension is to start with an input of a string of words, and to have thrown away the information about how the sentence was uttered. In this talk, I offer perspectives on (1) why clues from the way a sentence was spoken has not been incorporated into computational models of sentence comprehension and (2) why information from the way a sentence was spoken should be incorporated into these computational models, and how we might start tackling this project.