LINGUIST List 4.690

Sun 12 Sep 1993

Confs: Robustness Conference

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  1. Onderzoeks Instituut Taal en Spraak, Robustness Conference

Message 1: Robustness Conference

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1993 15:20:21 Robustness Conference
From: Onderzoeks Instituut Taal en Spraak <otslet.ruu.nl>
Subject: Robustness Conference

 PRELIMINARY PROGRAMME, September 1993
***************************************************************
 THE ROBUSTNESS OF THE LANGUAGE FACULTY:
 COPING WITH INCOMPLETE INFORMATION

Organized by the Research Institute for Language and Speech (OTS)
 on the occasion of its 5th anniversary
 28-30 October 1993

Theme Description

The human language faculty shows a remarkable robustness with respect
to incomplete information. Many possible features are not realized in the
signal of a normal linguistic utterance; and on the meaning side too, the
interpretation is highly underdetermined by the expression itself. Yet, in
the normal case, understanding is not in any way hampered by this. It
may well be that the availability of knowledge from other cognitive
domains contributes to the overall success, or perhaps this robustness is
caused by the modular structure of the linguistic system itself. Information
that disappears from one module would be compensated for via another
module. The central question of this conference will be how this
robustness of the language system can be explained, focusing in particular
on the role of non-linguistic information and higher order redundancy.

Preliminary programme
 Thursday, October 28 1993

10.00 Welcome, S. Nooteboom (director OTS, Utrecht)

10.15-11.30 Theme: Language Acquisition
 How is it that the child is able to extract the
 necessary information from an incomplete
 analysis of language data to proceed successfully
 in the acquisition process?
 Speaker: K. Wexler (MIT)
 Comments: J. Weissenborn (MPI, Nijmegen)

11.30-12.00 Coffee

12.00-13.15 Theme: Aphasia
 Aphasia can be characterized by the existence of
 blockades in the transmittance of information
 between various cognitive domains. What kind of
 strategies are used to avoid these blockades?
 What role does the modular structure of the
 language faculty play here?
 Speaker: G. Dogil (Stuttgart)
 Comments: L. Blomert (MPI, Nijmegen)

13.15-14.30 Lunch

14.30-15.45 Theme: Language Processing
 Various cognitive domains, partly linguistic,
 partly also extra-linguistic, are involved in the
 interpretation of language utterances. It is often
 assumed that these various processes operate in
 parallel fashion. With such a parallel form of
 processing interpretation can be the result of
 different independently operating subprocesses;
 that is to say, information within one module is
 not accessible to the other module. This
 presupposes that processes act as filters on each
 other's output. A feasible alternative is that
 modules are not informationally encapsulated and
 that processes do affect the operation of one
 another. The discussion will address the question
 in how far models of human language processing
 shed light on the optimalisation of processing
 modals of machine languages.
 Speaker: M. Tanenhaus (Rochester)
 Comments: L. des Tombe & S. Krauwer (Utrecht)

15.45-16.15 Tea

16.15-17.30 Theme: Sign Language
 The development and acquisition of sign
 language is a typical example of the robustness
 of human linguistic competence. The canonical
 medium is not available and its role is taken over
 by another medium with principally other
 constraints. This also means that the language
 faculty is not bothered by such constraints in its
 operation. The obvious question is what
 compensatory mechanisms are at work, and how
 the activities of the various modules are
 influenced by the alternative medium.
 Speaker: D. Perlmutter (San Diego, UCSD)
 Comments: A. Mills (Amsterdam)

18.00- Reception

 Friday October 29 1993

Session: Computational Linguistics and Logic Session

Theme: Partial information
 In computational studies of linguistic competence the notion of
 "information" is an important one, in particular partialness of
 linguistic information, and the dynamics of reasoning with respect
 to this partial information. In feature grammars unification is the
 central operation for combining partially specified linguistic
 descriptions. In categorial frameworks unification is enriched by a
 dimension of type inference. The general research goal in these
 computational models of linguistic competence is the
 characterization of what one might call "linguistic inference": a
 theory of reasoning by means of linguistic objects. It has proven
 fruitful not to separate linguistic inference from other modes of
 inference which play a role in broader cognitive frameworks.
 Linguistic inference is sensitive to the structure of linguistic
 constructs in the form and meaning dimensions. Current
 developments in logic offer an excellent starting-point for the
 systematic study of such a structure-sensitive inference.

9.00-12.30 Invited speakers are: I. Sag (Stanford), R. Kempson (SOAS,
 London), H. Verkuyl (Utrecht), J. van Benthem (Amsterdam)

12.30-14.00 Lunch

Session: Phonology

Theme: Overdetermination and underspecification in phonology
 In phonology the problem of robustness takes the form of
 constraints on the distance between lexical and phonetic
 representations. Such constraints can be sought in lexical
 representations (the theory of underspecification), or in rule
 application (theory of lexical phonology). In addition, the
 robustness of lexical representation can perhaps also be explained
 by means of overdetermination in prosodic structure (syllable
 structure, metrical structure). Central research questions associated
 with robustness are the following. Are lexical phonological
 representations maximally underspecified, or only partially? What
 is the role of prosodic structure in the characterization of lexical
 representation? Which constraints are the null positions in
 phonological representation (empty syllables, onsets) subject to?

14.00-17.30 Invited speakers are: P. Kiparsky (Stanford), R. Kager
 (Utrecht), K.P. Mohanan (Singapore), S. Anderson (Johns
 Hopkins)

Evening lecture

20.00-21.00 D. Lightfoot (Maryland)

21.00- Drinks

 Saturday, October 30

Session: Phonetics

Theme: Phonetic Underspecification
 In natural speech many features of speech sounds are not always
 realized. In producing artificial speech it can be observed that
 realization of all features leads to an unnatural result. It seems
 that the human perceptual mechanism is so specifically designed
 for under-information that is caused by natural sloppiness that
 complete information is perceived as over-information. In light of
 this fact the question arises what the rules are for realizing the
 features of speech sounds. What are the thresholds of tolerance,
 and what are these determined by? What is acceptable sloppiness?
 To what extent are these determined by the nature of the
 production and perception processes, and to what extent by formal
 and substantive properties of the utterance itself? Are there
 parallels to be drawn with demands for underspecification in
 syntax?

9.00-12.30 Invited speakers are: B. Lindblom (Austin), C. Darwin
 (Sussex), L. Pols (Amsterdam), S. Anderson (Johns Hopkins)

12.30-14.00 Lunch

Session: Syntax and Semantics

Theme: Contextual vs Grammatical Conditions on Interpretation
 In addition to elements which can independently have a referential
 function (such as common nouns and pronominals) the language
 system also has elements which do not have such a function.
 Anaphors form a large group of the latter class, their
 interpretation being dependent on other elements. In principle,
 anaphors are underspecified for one or more grammatical
 properties. A fundamental question in this regard is what is the
 connection between the syntactic/lexical property of the absence of
 features, and the semantic property that independent interpretation
 is impossible. Under strict conditions on the non- linguistic
 context, however, certain types of anaphors can get an
 interpretation without having a linguistic antecedent. These then
 occur as logophors. This leads to two fundamental questions: 1.
 What intrinsic properties of anaphors determine their ability to
 show up as logophors? 2. How can contextual information show
 interaction with strictly grammatical conditions on interpretation?

14.00-17.30 Invited speakers are: T. Reinhart (Tel Aviv/Utrecht), M.
 Diesing (Cornell), J. Huang (Irvine), D. Delfitto (Utrecht)

Organization
Peter Coopmans Research Institute for Language & Speech
Martin Everaert Utrecht University
Eric Reuland Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht
Wim Zonneveld tel:+31-30-536006, fax:+31-30-536000, e-mail:otslet.ruu.nl

***************************************************************
Conference sites:

- Academy Building
 Domplein, Utrecht
- CSB Building
 Kromme Nieuwe Gracht 39, Utrecht

***************************************************************

Accommodation:

The organisation will not take care of hotel accommodation. Please
contact the VVV Tourist Information Office:

Utrecht VVV Tourist Information Office
address: VVV Utrecht
 Vredenburg 90
 Postbus 19107
 3501 DC Utrecht
 Holland
tel.: +31-6-34034085
fax: +31-30-331417

***************************************************************
Registration

Fee for registration before October 1 / after October 1
Employed: Dfl 60 Dfl 90
Unemployed/student: Dfl 40 Dfl 60

Payment: All payments must be made in Dutch guilders.
***************************************************************

- You can transfer the appropriate amount to our bank account:
 Coopmans en/of Buenen, Inz.Congres
 Account no 40.84.68.939
 ABN-AMRO Bank
 Postbus 362
 3500 AJ Utrecht
 Reference : OTS-Robustness registration fee

 A copy of the bank transfer should be sent to us together with
 your registration form. Make sure you add transfer charges.

- You can use MasterCard/Eurocard and VISA credit cards.

***********************cut here********************************

Registration Form

Mr/Ms ............................................................
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First Name ............................................................
Affiliation ............................................................
Address ............................................................
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Conference rate:..............

Enclose a copy of the bank transfer, or fill in and sign below if you
pay by credit card.

Please charge [ ] Mastercard/Eurocard [ ] VISA
Card number: ..........................................................
Expiration date: ..........................................................
Amount: ..........................................................
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Send this form, with full payment, before 1 October 1993 to:

Robustness Organizing Committee
OTS
Trans 10
NL-3512 JK Utrecht
The Netherlands.
Tel: +31-30-536006
Fax: +31-30-536000
Email: OTSlet.ruu.nl
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